US & Canada

Bodies of missing Ohio trio found in hollow tree

Matthew Hoffman, in a booking photo from the Knox County sheriff's office
Image caption Matthew Hoffman, 30, is being held on a kidnapping charge

The bodies of three people who vanished a week ago in the US state of Ohio have been found in rubbish bags stuffed in a hollow tree trunk, police said.

The only suspect in the killings is an unemployed tree surgeon and ex-convict, Matthew Hoffman.

He was arrested after the daughter of one of the victims was found bound and gagged in his basement, and he is now being held on kidnapping charges.

He gave information through his lawyers which led officers to the bodies.

Sarah Maynard, 13, was found in the basement of Mr Hoffman's house on Sunday.

She was reported missing on 10 November, along with her 32-year-old mother, Tina Herrmann, her 11-year-old brother, Kody Maynard, and a family friend, Stephanie Sprang, 41.

'Bravery'

The police were first called after Tina Herrmann failed to turn up at the ice-cream stand where she worked.

The next day they found what they described as an unusual amount of blood inside Herrmann's home, and her pick-up truck was discovered near the campus of Kenyon College in central Ohio.

Police questioned Mr Hoffman after they found him sitting in his car in the area where Ms Herrmann's vehicle was found.

They found the three bodies on 18 November, using information provided by Mr Hoffman.

The authorities said the victims had been killed at Ms Herrmann's home and that Sarah was there at the time, but they did not give more details.

"We're inspired by Sarah's bravery," said Knox County Sheriff David Barber.

"What she saw, I can't speak to that."

Mr Hoffman, who served time in prison in the state of Colorado for arson and other charges, has not yet entered a plea to the current kidnapping charge.