Bizarre: The Crimes of Matthew Hoffman and His House of Leaves

Updated: Jan 4

Written by: Jenae


Trigger warning: murder, mental health, sexual assault of a minor, death of a child


Missing/Investigation:


On November 10th, 2010, supervisor of 32-year-old Tina Hermann entered her home after Tina hadn’t come to work that morning. When they walked in, they saw the home covered in empty beer cans and blood. Upon seeing this sight, the supervisor calls the police. At this point, Tina, her two children, 13-year-old Sarah and 11-year-old Kody, and her friend Stephanie (who’s car had been parked in the driveway) have vanished and aren’t inside the home. Because of this, investigators start a search immediately. The next day, Tina’s truck was found parked at a nearby college, abandoned.


As CSIs process the scene, they find empty Wal-Mart bags, one holding a receipt for a large tarp and trash bags. Police then head to the Wal-Mart to check the footage. On this footage, they see a young man buying these items, later identified as Matthew Hoffman. Police also see the car he left in on the tape and it was his own damn car, so they get DMV records. One officer remembers questioning the man when Tina’s truck was found at the college.


Four days later, police send a SWAT team to Matthew Hoffman’s home and what they find can only be described as bizarre. When they arrive, they find Matthew sleeping on the couch and the living room is filled with dried leaves. As they continue through the home, they enter the bathroom and find it covered with shopping bags that are also filled with leaves are covering the walls. The police enter the basement that had been locked or barricaded from the inside and they find the 13-year-old daughter alive, wearing only a plastic bag as pants and laying on a large pile of leaves that Hoffman had made into a bed. She is also bound and gagged. She has been sexually assaulted but is otherwise safe. At this point, police take Hoffman into custody, but Tina, Kody, and Stephanie are still missing.


Hoffman refuses to speak to police for hours. Eventually, Hoffman agrees to confess based on a dream he had. Hoffman tells police about the dream, that he was in a food processing plant, opened a trash bag and it was filled with human body parts. Hoffman says that after this dream, the events of the crime “came back to him”.


Murders:

Hoffman's Living Room

Hoffman begins to give investigators answers about what happened on 11/10/2010. He waited in a tree across the street from Tina’s home overnight, casing the home for a robbery. Once Tina leaves to drop off her children at school, he believes the home to be empty and sneaks in through a garage door that wasn’t completely closed. This is not the first time that he had committed robbery in this way, but last time, he didn’t kill anyone. He states that he didn’t plan to kill anyone but he brought a hunting knife and a tire iron with him. About an hour into Hoffman being in the home, Tina and her friend Stephanie return home. Hoffman stabs them both and then begins to dismember the bodies. While he’s doing this, Tina’s children arrive home from school. He stabs Tina’s son as he enters the home. He also kills the family dog. Tina’s daughter runs to her room where Hoffman captures her, ties her up with electric cords and blindfolds her. He then puts her and the dismembered into a vehicle and drives her to his home. He then returns to the home and locks her in the basement.


Hoffman's Bathroom

Then, he takes the remains to a wilderness area. He then uses a rope and pulley system to place the remains of Kody, Tina, and Stephanie into a hollow 60 foot tree. (The police had to cut a deal of no death penalty in order to get any information about where the bodies were. Originally, Hoffman had asked if he could give the location of the bodies in exchange for a fake escape attempt where the police would kill him. No surprise, investigators didn’t agree to this. Because of this, he was silent for two full days.) He planned to return to the home and burn it down, but those plans weren’t fulfilled. Instead, he returned to the home, picked up Tina’s truck, and drove it to the nearby college.



The basement the survivor was found in

As he was walking away, he was questioned by police and didn’t raise any red flags. He told police that he treated the 13-year-old girl well; feeding her, playing video games with her, and sleeping with his arm around her. He thought that if enough time passed, he could let her just leave and go back to her life.


Background:


Matthew Hoffman was born on November 1st, 1980. Although there’s not much known about his background, there was some sort of trauma in his childhood that many believe may have led to his decaying mental state. One of the only other things we know if that he worked as a tree trimmer. He was unemployed at the time of the murder and Hoffman’s home was in foreclosure.

Prior to this arrest for murder, Hoffman had served time in Steamboat Springs, CO for a crime committed in 2000. In CO, Hoffman had been arrested for a robbery and arson in Steamboat Springs and there was no one harmed. He claimed he lit the town home on fire to cover up the robbery. While no people were harmed, the fire spread to other townhouses near by and caused two million dollars worth of damage. He was found guilty of robbery and arson and was sentenced to an eight year sentence, but he was released from CO Department of Corrections in 2007. (I assume this was for good behavior, but I couldn’t find the answer anywhere.)



Murderer, Matthew Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman had many neighbors nearby his Ohio home that remembered seeing some interesting things, that show that he had quite a bit of issues. Neighbors say he was very interested in being in the wilderness. One neighbor stated that she didn’t allow her children outside because of Hoffman’s strange behavior. He’d spy on his neighbors from a hammock in the trees. He’d been known to kill and eat squirrels, something that he didn’t think was weird. He’d also start fires on his lawn.


In the home, police found that his freezer contained dead squirrels and popsicles. Though Hoffman has been described as a sociopath who experienced intense delusions and hallucinations, he was never treated for mental health issues before his arrest to our knowledge. Some believe that he had a mental breakdown that was caused by the difficult circumstances in his life at the time, but to me it seems like there’s more to be said for his mental health because he clearly wasn’t doing well before this either.


Trial:

Hoffman at the Hermann Trial

For the brutal murders of Kody Maynard, Tina Hermann, and Stephanie Sprang and the kidnapping and rape of Tina’s 13-year-old daughter, Hoffman plead guilty on June 6th, 2011. He charged with 10 charges including murder, rape, dismemberment, and kidnapping. He is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in Ohio.



Sources:

Murderpedia

Scare Street

My Favorite Murder

Hex Files Collective

Denver Post

Criminal Minds Wiki