FREDERICKTOWN — Less than a quarter mile from the Kokosing Reservoir, off Yankee Street, neighbors watched from their windows and front porches as news helicopters circled overhead.
Some were hearing the disturbing news for the first time around 4 p.m. Thursday that the bodies of Kody Maynard, Tina Herrmann and Stephanie Sprang, missing for the past eight days, had been discovered near their homes.
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This is a peaceful area where you are as likely to see Amish buggies as cars moving down the roads in the area, and neighbors here enjoy the quiet and the scenery from the nearby Kokosing Reservoir, campgrounds, and the thick, stately woods that can be seen from nearly every yard.
It was in those woods investigators worked Thursday to recover the bodies of the missing three from where they had been hidden in a hollow tree.
“It really wasn’t affecting me,” said Kristine Phillips, who lives near Waterford and Pinkley roads, as she stood on her porch watching the news choppers circle the woods across from her home.
“I have been praying for them,” she said quietly. “But now it’s just terrifying that he was this close.”
A few houses down on Waterford Road, less than a quarter mile from the reservoir, homeowner Usher Levering shook his head in disbelief.
“I’m shocked” he said.
“They didn’t really give out a lot of information but they were pretty much keeping towards Gambier and Apple Valley I thought, so I’m really shocked,” he explained.
He said the situation does not frighten him, because he has always been concerned about safety.
“I’m not anymore concerned than usual,” Levering explained. “There’s all kinds of kooks out there.”
Debbie Shaw and Jeff Ray, who both live on Waterford Road, can see the reservoir and woods hundreds of yards in front of their house.
“I’ve been praying for the families,” Shaw said. “It’s really hard.”
Shaw and Ray both were surprised the missing three had been found in their area.
“I didn’t think they’d be out of Knox County,” Shaw said. “But I never thought they’d be up this far.”
Shaw said she lived near another area where a murder victim was found in Fairfield County years ago.
“She was found in the swamp near our home, and I thought that was scary,” she said. “Now this ....” she said.
Shaw said having such a discovery made near her home made her nervous, even though a suspect is in custody.
“It makes me sick,” she said. “I mean I have teenage kids and a grandson. It’s disgusting to think that somebody who has a record like that can live among the community.”
Hoffman had recently been released from parole after a 2000 arson conviction that caused $2 million in damages and forced people from 16 homes.
While the location was not in one of the areas of heavy search concentrations, Knox County Sheriff David Barber said the area had been searched at least once in some capacity since the four went missing last Wednesday. He did not provide any further details.
“My heart is just broken for those families,” said a Yankee Street resident who declined to give her name. “I just don’t understand who would do something like this to women, and a child.”