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Grim end to Ohio mystery: 3 bodies in hollow tree

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MOUNT VERNON, Ohio (AP) — An unemployed tree-trimmer arrested after a teenage girl was found bound and gagged in his basement pointed the way Thursday to the bodies of her brother, mother and another woman, stuffed into garbage bags and hidden in a hollow tree, authorities said.

The three victims and the rescued 13-year-old disappeared more than a week ago from a blood-spattered home. Authorities said all three were murdered there, though they did not say how, and that the tree-trimmer, Matthew Hoffman, gave investigators information through his attorneys that led them to the bodies in woods in central Ohio.

"The tragedy today is just devastating," said Knox County prosecutor John Thatcher. "The results aren't what we wanted them to be."

Knox County Sheriff David Barber said part of the tree had to be cut away to remove the remains.

"The tree was hollow to a point," the sheriff said, adding it would be speculation to understand how the remains were put into the tree.

Hoffman, an ex-convict who spent six years in a Colorado prison on arson and other charges, remained jailed on charges of kidnapping the girl, Sarah Maynard, and is the only suspect in the killings, Barber said. The 30-year-old has appeared in court but has not entered a plea.


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