house hunting trip

3

The Killer who Loved Trees

On November 11, 2010, police arrived to the house of Tina Herrmann (32), in Ohio, and found a horrible sight. There were drag marks on the floor and the bathroom was covered in blood, to the point one of the investigators compared it to a slaughterhouse. The gruesome crime scene had been first encountered by a coworker of Tina, who worried that she hadn’t showed up to work two days in a row, had gone to check up on her. Despite all the blood, there was no sign of Tina or her two kids, Sarah (13) and Kody (11). Also missing was Stephanie Sprang, a friend of Tina’s who’d on November 10 had gone with her on a house hunting trip. Stephanie’s car was found in Tina’s garage.

Crime scene analysts found human tissue in the bloody bathroom, and they theorized that someone had not only killed Tina and the rest, but also dismembered them. Desperate for clues, they found some supermarket bags in the garage that seemed recently purchased. After checking the surveillance camera of the closest store, they stumbled onto the video footage of a man called Matthew Hoffman buying those very same things on the day Tina and her people had disappeared.

Hoffman was a peculiar man, with an obsession with trees who ten years previous had burglarized and burned a condominium. When police arrived to his house to arrest him, they found the rooms covered in leaves. Even worse, in a locked basement they found a very alive Sarah, Tina’s daughter, who’d been abducted and raped, and kept in the darkness for days.

Hoffman eventually confessed he’d gone into Tina’s house to steal, after picking it up random. While inside, Tina had arrived with Stephanie, so he’d stabbed and killed both of them. He stayed for longer until the children arrived from school, and killed Kody and tied Sarah up. Before he left with the teenager, he dismembered his three murder victims and put them in trash bags he’d bought at that supermarket. Police found the bodies hidden inside a tree in the woods.

Hoffman was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Despite his claims that he just went to the house to steal, police believe his target was always Sarah, and the others were collateral damage.