- Associated Press - Sunday, November 14, 2010

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio | A 13-year-old girl missing for days was found bound and gagged but alive in a basement Sunday, and authorities hoped a man charged with kidnapping her might lead them to her mother, brother and another woman who disappeared with her.

Matthew J. Hoffman, 30, was arrested at his Mount Vernon home, where Sarah Maynard was found, Knox County Sheriff David Barber said. He said the girl was hospitalized in good condition but would give no details and did not say whether she had been sexually abused.

Sheriff Barber did not say what led to Mr. Hoffman’s home, which is about 10 miles from the home of Sarah’s family, but he said Mr. Hoffman’s mother and stepfather own a house within walking distance of Sarah’s, and that Mr. Hoffman listed it as a second address.

Sheriff Barber said authorities hoped Mr. Hoffman would give them information leading to Sarah’s mother Tina Herrmann, her 10-year-old brother Kody, and Ms. Herrmann’s 41-year-old friend Stephanie Sprang.

The four vanished Wednesday in a case that was all the more alarming because an unusual amount of blood was found at Ms. Herrmann’s home in Howard.

“We were hopeful that we would find more than one” of the missing people in Mr. Hoffman’s house, Sheriff Barber said. “Our information was definite that it was most likely that Sarah was going to be in that house.”

Authorities believe the girl had been “under the control” of Mr. Hoffman since Wednesday, when she and her brother last attended school, the sheriff said. He did not know whether Mr. Hoffman was connected to either of the two missing adult women, but said he is not a former boyfriend of either.

“At this time, whether he’s connected to the family or whether he connected himself to the family … a lot of that remains to be seen as the investigation continues,” Sheriff Barber said.

Authorities had talked to the girl but would not release any details because the investigation is ongoing, Sheriff Barber said.

Mr. Hoffman was charged with kidnapping, and Sheriff Barber said more charges are expected, though he denied rumors of dead bodies being found on Mr. Hoffman’s premises.

“We have no one that we’re aware of who is deceased,” Sheriff Barber said. “So we’re still treating this as a missing persons case.”

Authorities blocked off about a half block on either side of the home as they investigated early Sunday afternoon, keeping people from entering or leaving about a half-dozen homes. But by late afternoon, the only sign of investigative activity was red and white evidence tape sealing closed the front door of the home.

Mr. Hoffman was being held in the county jail, where personnel would not comment on whether he had an attorney. A bond hearing was expected to be held Monday.

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