MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — It is possible that three people still missing in central Ohio were killed, a sheriff conceded yesterday, a day after the 13-year-old girl who disappeared along with them was rescued from the home of a man later charged with kidnapping.
Authorities want to remain optimistic that 32-year-old Tina Herrmann, her 10-year-old son, Kody, and Herrmann’s friend, 41-year-old Stephanie Sprang, are alive, Knox County Sheriff David Barber said at a news conference.
Investigators searched a lake for signs of the three near a house where the girl, Sarah Maynard, was found in the basement and where Matthew J. Hoffman, 30, was arrested. Maynard has been released from a hospital and is staying with relatives, the sheriff said.
“She is a very brave little girl,’’ Barber said.
Unlike previous days, the sheriff declined to describe the investigation as a missing-persons case, referring to it as “an investigation into the recovery of three people.’’
The shift in tone was attributed to the amount of blood found at the home, the fact that only Maynard was found with the suspect, and because apparently no one has seen her mother, brother, and the other woman.
“We still would like to retain a hopeful attitude, but we have to be realistic,’’ Barber said.
Authorities arrested Hoffman Sunday at his house about 40 miles north of Columbus. Barber would not reveal what led investigators to the home.