MOUNT VERNON — Knox County Sheriff David Barber talked to the media Tuesday afternoon, filling in few additional details regarding the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Apple Valley residents Tina Herrmann, 32, Tina’s son, Kody Maynard, 11, her friend, Stephanie Sprang, 41, and the abduction of Tina’s daughter, 13-year-old Sarah Maynard, who was rescued by law enforcement Sunday morning at the Columbus Road home of Matthew Hoffman, 30.
Get audio from the press conferences, see images of the investigation and search, a map of key events and related stories.
Barber requested continued help from the community to fill in the timeline of the activities which unfolded Wednesday, Nov. 10, when the four vanished.
Describing the clothing two of the three missing people were last seen wearing, Barber asked anyone in the community who had contact with the three Wednesday, Nov. 10, or anyone who saw any of the four that day, to contact the sheriff’s office.
According to the sheriff, Herrmann was last seen wearing a white baseball cap, tan hoodie, dark-colored sweatpants and tennis shoes.
Kody was wearing jeans, a gray T-shirt, a blue hoodie and black shoes.
Sprang is reported to have been last seen early the afternoon of Nov. 10, but it is not clear what she was wearing.
Barber said the release of photos to the media of three vehicles associated with the case which belong to Sprang, Herrmann and Hoffman, have yielded new tips.
“We did get some responses to the vehicles being put out, which hopefully will add a little bit more detail to our timeline,” Barber said.
“Unfortunately, the reality that these folks may not be alive is becoming more and more prevalent, simply because there’s been no word from these folks,” the sheriff explained.
He said there has been no cell phone or credit card activity attributed to the three in the past week.
The sheriff said that both Maynard children were dropped off at their home from the school bus Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 10.
He said a deputy conducted a well-being check at the house after Herrmann failed to show up for work Wednesday evening, Nov. 10.
No one answered the door when the deputy rang the bell between 6 and 8 p.m. while the lights inside the house were on and Herrmann’s truck remained in the driveway.
The deputy noted nothing amiss according to Barber, and the deputy left. But the deputy returned Barber said, later in the evening, to try again. Barber also said the deputy did not make another trip because of any “bad feeling” he had at the house.
“He returned around 11, and saw nothing out of the ordinary,” Barber said. “In my opinion, he was very conscientious,” the sheriff commended.
The sheriff was asked about the confusion some wishing to assist with the search have expressed about where to go for information about becoming involved.
Barber said those interested in assisting with the ongoing search, should contact the Emergency Operations Center at the Knox County Emergency Management Agency.
Knox County EMA Director Brian Hess confirmed his agency will give callers necessary guidance. He said to call his office for information at 740-393-6772.
When asked about the toll the case may be taking on the investigators working around the clock on the investigation, Barber paused for a moment, and looked up with a more solemn expression.
“It’s been a challenge,” said Barber. “We have been blessed in this county that we have never, we’ve never had to respond to something this major and this involved.”
He then praised the “overwhelming support” from partner agencies, including investigators from federal, state, and surrounding counties, as well as fellow officers from around Knox County. Barber said he has never been territorial about this investigation due its size and complexity, and he welcomes the flood of help from fellow law enforcement officers from around the state.
He then spoke about the effect of the investigation on investigators and their families.
“It definitely has been a challenge for us, and our families,” Barber said.
The sheriff and Capt. David Shaffer of the sheriff’s office encouraged those interested in helping with the search to contact the Knox County Emergency Management Agency.
“We have been assisting with the search,” Hess explained.
Some searchers have told the News they would like to help with the search, but have been confused about who to contact to become involved with the comprehensive ongoing search through the many wooded areas and waterways in the county.
Hess said anyone wishing to help with a large-scale search of the county today was encouraged to meet at 10 a.m. in the Premiere Theatres parking lot at 11535 Upper Gilchrist Road. EMA and Red Cross officials were be on scene organizing the large-scale search.
Barber stressed the critical nature of some of the tips coming in to his office, and thanked the public for their continued vigilance looking for any indication of what happened to the three.
He said the tips have yielded “some information that’s helpful to the investigation,” and complimented the public’s diligence in reporting anything unusual they may have witnessed, and any sightings of the three vehicles, or the two missing women and little boy.
Evidence recovered Wednesday, and in previous days, is being processed by investigators to determine if it has any connection to the case.
A purple sweatshirt was located Wednesday afternoon and a blue sweatshirt was found late Wednesday by a group of volunteer searchers. Kody Maynard was last seen wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt. No information is currently available as to whether or not these two items are connected to the case.
Barber was asked about the activity witnessed Wednesday afternoon by News reporters at the King Beach Drive home from where the four are presumed to have been taken. The sheriff answered that he was not yet aware of what that activity was and whether or not the people at the house had been investigators or family members of the victims.
News reporters saw six to eight people leaving the Herrmann residence Wednesday afternoon with what appeared to be personal items including a teddy bear, a camouflage covered pillow and toys.
Pieces of evidence collected at the two crime scenes in Apple Valley and on Columbus Road are in the hands of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, and Barber said he has been assured by the agency that this case is a priority case.
When asked if investigators have been told by Sarah Maynard if she or the other victims had any previous relationship or contact with Hoffman, Barber said it would be inappropriate to comment on anything Sarah may have told investigators, as it is crucial to the investigation.
The sheriff was then asked if they knew how Hoffman may have chosen these four.
“We follow the investigation where it’s leading us, and that’s yet to be determined,” he replied.
The tipline for the Knox County Sheriff’s Office is 888-363-TIPS (8477). The detective division can be reached at 740-393-6800. The sheriff’s office general number is 740-397-3333.