US victims found in tree 'stabbed and dismembered'

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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

Three people whose bodies were found in a hollow tree trunk in the US state of Ohio were stabbed to death before they were dismembered, a coroner has said.

Tina Herrmann, son Kody Maynard and her friend Stephanie Sprang were stabbed several times in the back and chest.

The bodies were later cut up, placed inside rubbish bags and lowered into the hollow of a large tree in a wildlife reserve, the coroner said.

The only suspect in the killings is being held on a kidnapping charge.

He is Matthew Hoffman, an unemployed tree surgeon and ex-convict.

The victims died sometime on 11 November and there were no signs of sexual assault, the coroner added.

Mr Hoffman gave information through his lawyers which led officers to the bodies, which were found on 18 November.

He was arrested after Tina Herrmann's daughter, Sarah Maynard, 13, was found bound and gagged in his basement on Sunday, and he is now being held on kidnapping charges.

She was reported missing on 10 November, along with Tina Herrmann, 32, her brother, Kody Maynard, 11, and Stephanie Sprang, 41.

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 kidnapping charge.