MOUNT VERNON — According to the preliminary autopsy report released Saturday by Knox County Coroner Dr. Jennifer Ogle, the deaths of Stephanie Sprang, 41, Tina Herrmann, 32, and Kody Maynard, 11, were caused by multiple stab wounds to their chests and backs. Ogle reported the three were killed on Nov. 10. Knox County Sheriff David Barber said last week the three were killed at Herrmann’s Apple Valley home.
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The Knox County community joined local law enforcement, and investigators from throughout Ohio in the search for Sprang and Herrmann, and Herrmann’s two children, Kody and his 13-year-old sister Sarah.
Officers from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and the Mount Vernon Police Department rescued Sarah from the Columbus Road home of Matthew Hoffman, 30, in an early morning raid on Nov. 14. She was found in Hoffman’s basement, bound and gagged. She was briefly hospitalized, and released to be reunited with her father.
Following an eight-day search combing through woods and bodies of water throughout the county, investigators were led to the remains of the missing three on Thursday, by information provided by Hoffman, according to Knox County Sheriff David Barber. The remains of the three victims were discovered inside large garbage bags within a hollow tree at the Kokosing State Wildlife Area near Fredericktown.
Ogle said the remains were handled with meticulous care to protect the integrity of the investigation, as well as the dignity of the victims and their families.
Ogle said her priorities in this case were to ensure all forensic testing is done carefully and accurately, and that the families of the victims are provided with support during the investigation.
“The most challenging and heartbreaking thing I have had to do as coroner is discuss these findings with the families of the deceased victims,” Ogle stated in regard to the disturbing details of the autopsy findings.
Her report stated the victims were attacked with a knife, suffering fatal wounds on their torsos as well as smaller, non-fatal wounds elsewhere on their bodies.
“Pending further tests, there were no signs of sexual assault,” Ogle reported.
Ogle said Saturday after releasing the preliminary findings that the case had taken an emotional toll on all involved in the case, herself included.
She said final autopsy reports should be available in six to eight weeks, pending forensic testing including toxicology reports, which she said are always included in full forensic autopsies. Ogle said Dr. Jeff Lee of the Licking County Coroner’s Office would be completing the full forensic report.
Acknowledging the trauma inflicted on the entire Knox County community, Ogle praised law enforcement and the public for the community reaction to the stunning crimes.
“Our entire community has been wounded in this tragedy and words can’t describe the sorrow felt by all,” she stated. “However, I have seen this community rise up and challenge itself to greatness since the beginning of this ordeal.”
Calling Knox County “one of the warmest, kindest, and most beautiful communities” she has ever witnessed, Ogle challenged the community not to allow the horrific events of the past 10 days to detract from the community’s character.
“I firmly believe that no one person can ever steal that away from us,” she said.
Thanking law enforcement for their “incredible and heroic work,” Ogle said “the story of Sarah Maynard’s rescue will forever be remembered as an example of extraordinary detective work and bravery.”
She reassured the public and the grieving families of her continued commitment to the investigation.
“... the Knox County Coroner’s Office will be working diligently to ensure justice is served and the deceased are treated with dignity and respect,” Ogle stated.