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Bodies Lowered Into Hollow Tree by Harness

Aired November 19, 2010 - 20:00:00   ET


PAT LALAMA, GUEST HOST: Breaking news tonight out of the Ohio suburbs. A beautiful mother of two never makes it to work at the local Dairy Queen. Her two children also vanish after school. Their close neighbor disappears, as well. Now, in a stunning twist, one of the missing children, a 13-year-old girl, is rescued from the basement of a nearby home, where she`s found bound and gagged. But it`s a tragic ending for her mother, brother and family friend, the bodies of the two missing moms and the 11-year-old boy found stuffed in a hollow tree in dense woods.

Major developments tonight. Bone-chilling details describe a murder scene straight out of a horror movie, a convicted arsonist and tree trimmer who leads the police to the bodies, drags his victims, stuffed in trash bags, into the deep woods, then uses a harness to raise the bodies and drop them one by one into the bottom of the hollow tree. And to top off the twisted murder spree, the family dog also stuffed in the tree with the family.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the trail that Hoffman likely drove his vehicle down. Now, when you reach the end right here, it goes into an open field. And it`s at this point when he made the decision where to dump the bodies. According to investigators, it was right over there in that wooded area.

So we walked another hundred yards to find the spot. This is it, the entrance into the woods. Now, apparently, Hoffman told investigators that about 100 feet in, he took the bodies and dumped them in a hollow tree. Let me show you.

It`s dense woods and a vehicle could not drive in here, so investigators are certain he dragged the bodies to this tree. Now, I understand Hoffman was an experienced tree trimmer who had his own harnesses. So investigators believe he brought the bodies here, hauled them up to the very top. Inside, there`s a hollow hole. From there, he dropped them down to the base.


LALAMA: Good evening. I`m Pat Lalama, in for Nancy Grace. The bodies of two missing mothers and an 11-year-old boy found in dense woods, stuffed in a hollow tree. Tonight, bone chilling details describe a murder scene right out of a horror movie. Now, for the very latest let`s go straight out to Jean Casarez, legal correspondent, "In Session." Jean, extraordinary, and elaborate.

JEAN CASAREZ, "IN SESSION": It is unbelievable. There were three dead bodies, a mother, her son and her family friend. They were dragged through the woods, after they`d been killed, with a rope, hoisted up, and then they were hurled into a hollow tree one by one by one by one. And it`s not over yet. Then a family dog that had been killed was put in the same hollow tree.

LALAMA: Absolutely unbelievable. So many bells and whistles that this suspect used, an elaborate process. Matt Bruning, reporter, Newstalk 610 WTVN, I find it extraordinary that a person was able to act alone, but that`s what the cops believe, correct?

MATT BRUNING, NEWSTALK 610 WTVN (via telephone): That is correct, Pat, yes. They think that Matthew Hoffman did this all by himself. As you alluded to, he`s an experienced tree trimmer, so he obviously has some experience climbing these trees. But still, an amazing story, if it all pans out the way that they`re saying, that this guy drug these bodies up these trees and dropped them right in this hollow hole, along with the family dog.

LALAMA: Phil Trexler, reporter, "Akron Beacon Journal," where is Matthew Hoffman as we speak?

PHIL TREXLER, "AKRON BEACON JOURNAL": He`s currently being held in the county jail under a million dollars bond, currently, only charged with kidnapping of 13-year-old Sarah, and obviously, more charges are expected. He appears to be cooperating somewhat with authorities. The sheriff said this week that without Hoffman`s assistance, they would never have recovered the bodies because of the horrendous disposal method that he used.

LALAMA: Jean Casarez, legal correspondent, "In Session," it appears that the authorities want to go through the grand jury process on this. Explain why that`s significant.

CASAREZ: Well, it remains private that way because in most states, you can go via preliminary hearing, which is very public. There`s testimony. The public is in the courtroom. They can watch. Or grand jury, which is very secret and you don`t know anything until the grand jury returns, if they do, the indictment.

LALAMA: Paul Penzone, former sergeant, Phoenix PD, child advocate, isn`t it amazing that one person could do all this? We`re talking dragging bodies, dragging a dog, using a hoist, lifting bodies down a tree trunk. It`s extraordinary to me.

PAUL PENZONE, FORMER SGT., PHOENIX PD: You used the world earlier, you said, elaborate, and that`s exactly what it is. But it shows you a little insight into the mind of somebody that really is a pure killer. Every aspect of this was thought out and it was methodical. And that just tells you that the planning that went into it was solely for those purposes. And I`m not sure yet, but it appears as though, obviously, that young girl was where his passion lies for some reason.

LALAMA: Dr. Radha -- excuse me -- Mikkilineni of -- I`m so sorry for messing that up -- doctor of internal medicine. Explain for us this process of using a harness, what an autopsy might show us, how the harness was used. Give us -- paint a picture for us.

DR. RADHA MIKKILINENI, INTERNAL MEDICINE: OK. Well, this is clearly a very gruesome, gruesome crime. A harness would likely result in bruise marks and imprints that would match the configuration of the harness that was used. This could be determined on autopsy, and this is likely what could happen. Unfortunately, it will also depend upon the state, the condition of the decomposition at the time when the bodies were actually found.

LALAMA: Matt Bruning, when do we expect results of the autopsies, the oh so important autopsies?

BRUNING: Well, I understand the Knox County coroner did the autopsies today in neighboring Licking (ph) County. And we`ve been told this morning when we talked to the Knox County sheriff`s -- or the coroner`s office, rather, that we could get a press conference as early as tomorrow with the coroner and the sheriff to discuss the results of that autopsy.

LALAMA: Jean Casarez, Matthew Hoffman apparently led police to the scene, but as far as we know, hasn`t confessed. Is that a little bit contradictory?

CASAREZ: Right. It`s talking being cooperative at this point, and that came the attorney because, otherwise, how would they have even (INAUDIBLE) to find these bodies? But through his attorney, authorities were led to this tree, completely hollowed out, with bodies inside.

LALAMA: Kirby Clements, I`m guessing that leading police to this horrible scene is a way of getting himself out of a little bit of trouble, ultimately?

KIRBY CLEMENTS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, yes. Absolutely. I think that this was an effort to avoid the death penalty because a case as gruesome as this and as thought-out as this would mandate the death penalty. So I`m sure that was the bargain -- I`ll she you the bodies if you promise not to kill me.

LALAMA: Alan Ripka, he hasn`t been charged yet. And we`ve talked about the grand jury. What`s the -- what`s the -- why the delay? Why not just go right to it?

ALAN RIPKA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, when you have a case of this magnitude, you want to show that you do it right. And if he came to them and said, Listen, I know who killed them. It wasn`t me. And I know where they dumped the bodies, to try to be the savior, to help, they don`t want to do anything to hurt their case, so they`re taking their time.

LALAMA: Michelle Golland, psychologist and expert on, this gentleman -- well, let`s not call him a gentleman -- Matthew Hoffman apparently...


LALAMA: Yes -- told his mother, apparently, that he was relieved when cops raided his home because now the little girl could go home. Try to analyze that for me.

GOLLAND: You know, I`m not sure if I believe that at all. I mean, I think this individual is clearly a psychopath. And the evidence that I`ve seen shows someone who has an anti-social personality disorder and is psychopathic. And I think he was -- he`s most likely a sexual sadist, as well. And we will see. Hopefully, none of those things were perpetrated upon the little girl and she was saved prior to that.

LALAMA: Paul Penzone, that little girl is going to be key, is she not?

PENZONE: Oh, yes, she`s your key witness. Anything that she can testify as far as seeing him, if it wasn`t a situation where he was able to abduct her without her seeing him or what took place with the rest of her family, she`s your number one key witness.

And you know, I feel really bad because earlier, I said his passion -- it`s an obsession. For some reason, he had an obsession for her and that`s what probably led him to carry out these acts. But what he did, to pick up these bodies, to put them in that tree, which would have been extremely difficult for anyone to find without information -- you`re probably going to lose the scent. And it`s in a location that`s just undiscoverable. It`s just a horrendous, horrendous crime when you look at it from beginning to end.

LALAMA: Yes, it sure is. And you`re looking at the actual tree. I mean, I can`t even believe I`m looking at it and imagining what that scene must have been like.

Phil Treckler -- or Trexler -- excuse me -- reporter, "The Akron Beacon Journal," Hoffman`s being held on a million dollars bond, and the judge didn`t give him the 10 percent option, correct?

TREXLER: That`s right. It`s a million-dollar cash bond. Look, this guy is not going to go anywhere. They know where this case is going to lead to. And just because -- keep in mind, just because he`s helping them with the location of the body doesn`t necessarily mean that the death penalty`s going to be removed.

We had a case here that everyone remembers, Bobby Cutts, who killed Jessie Marie Davis (ph) a couple years back. He led them to her body. He still faced the death penalty at trial. So it`s not necessarily true that they will remove the death specs (ph) from this case, if it goes that far.

LALAMA: Alan Ripka, is it common for a judge to say, No, you don`t get the 10 percent, it`s all or nothing?

RIPKA: Well, it happens in serious cases like this, especially when you have someone who`s facing the death penalty and the judge doesn`t want them to get out. He sets the bail on those that can`t come up with it to ensure that they`re going to remain because at this point, they still haven`t charged him in the grand jury, or at least they`re doing it secretly, so he could take off in the meanwhile.

LALAMA: Matt Bruning, is Hoffman on suicide watch?

BRUNING: That`s what we`ve been told, that the jail has him on suicide watch. We`re not sure what has led to that, but one could imagine, obviously, with the nature of these crimes that that would be something they`d be concerned about. It may just be an extra precaution at this point.

LALAMA: Jean Casarez, do cops believe everyone died in the same location? And would that be in the home?

CASAREZ: Well, blood was found, a lot of blood was found in the home. So I think that`s a distinct possibility. You know what I think`s interesting, too, potential evidence, was tarp and black garbage bags that were found at the home, and a tarp was found in the woods. And you know what they do -- when you hunt, what you do is if you get your deer, you drag it on the tarp and it`s easier to drag that way. And we know that he dragged those bodies through the woods. So that tarp could be potential evidence.

LALAMA: And Phil Trexler, we know that there was a receipt that helped police determine what items he used, correct?

TREXLER: Yes. And apparently, that receipt is the key to the whole discovery of little Sarah in Hoffman`s house. The receipt was for garbage bags and a tarp. And they haven`t disclosed where they found that receipt, but it wouldn`t surprise us if that receipt may have been left at the murder scene, at the home of the family, and led them directly to it because it was just a whirlwind of events that happened over the weekend, with the discovery of the bodies and then the -- or I`m sorry, the discovery of the missing people and then the discovery of the little girl, and then four days later, the bodies recovered. So that receipt played a major role in the breakthrough in this case.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a hollow hole. From there, he dropped them down to the base. Here`s a better look at the hole. It`s wide enough to place a body down, but there were three bodies that ultimately lodged in the base. You can see here that investigators had to cut a hole at the bottom to get them out.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They had finally gotten the information from the suspect himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His name is Matthew Hoffman.

NANCY GRACE, HOST: Here`s a guy, an outdoorsman, trimmed trees, cut down trees. Everything points directly to him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How ironic that`s where they found these bodies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have discovered and recovered the remains of...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... an Ohio family reported missing more than a week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty-two-year-old Tina Herrmann, her 10-year-old son, Kody, and family friend, 41-year-old Stephany Sprang.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bodies were located in a wooded area inside of garbage bags in a hollow tree.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The sheriff says without him giving that information, they would have never found them.

GRACE: I don`t understand how three bodies could fit into a hollowed- out tree.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to, unfortunately, dismember every single body.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Each body was stuffed in a garbage bag, and those garbage bags were stuffed in a hollow tree.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That would be the only way.


LALAMA: I`m Pat Lalama, in for Nancy Grace. I want to go back to Matt Bruning for a minute. For people who might not be up to speed on this case, can you give us a little short tutorial how this all happened and put the pieces together for us?

BRUNING: Absolutely. These three -- or actually, there were four people that initially went missing. And what happened was Tina Herrmann works in a local Dairy Queen in Mount Vernon. Her co-workers noticed that didn`t come to work on Wednesday, then didn`t show up again on Thursday, thought that was very suspicious. They called police. When police arrived, they got to the house, they found a large amount of blood inside the house, immediately sealed it off and began the search. And then of course, we`ve gotten to the point where we are today here.

LALAMA: Unbelievable. And Phil Trexler, can you give us a little bit of a profile of Matthew Hoffman? I understand the guy likes to eat squirrels, for starters.

TREXLER: Yes, details about Matthew Hoffman are trickling out. We do know significantly that he did some prison time while living in Colorado, did some prison time for an arson. He has been described by associates or people who have come in contact with him as a little weird, off the wall, quiet. There have been reports that, you know, kids who went to school with him years ago don`t even recall him being in the same class with them, just kind of a guy who`s just odd and strange and not one of those guys that you hear about who people would say surprisingly committed such a crime. But just, you know, the description has generally been that he`s just a strange character.

LALAMA: Kirby Clements, defense attorney, what are you going to do with a guy like this if he were yours? Crazy? Insane?

CLEMENTS: Well, you know, I think that in light of these facts, that`s the first thing you have to go for. You do have to rule that out. Killing three people and a dog -- that`s what really just strikes you as just immediately strange. So you have to look at that angle. But the amount of planning that went into this and the amount of effort that went into doing this is probably going to make that a very -- you know, a tremendously uphill battle that you might not win. So you might just start talking about a deal.

LALAMA: Right. Jean Casarez, legal correspondent, "In Session," I`m still trying to figure out a link. I mean, who did he know? Where`s that -- you know, those two links that take him to the people?

CASAREZ: I was thinking the same thing. You`re talking about motive. What would be the motive here? Here`s what we know. A mother and daughter and family friend -- we know that the family friend, a young lady -- she was part of a cleaning service at a gymnasium. He had joined the gym and seemed to go there every night around closing time, when she was coming on to start to clean the place.

Well, they may have known each other, but as far as the other two, it could be as simple as elimination of witnesses.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the entrance to a long path where investigators believe Hoffman began. We walked down the long trail, deep into the woods, where Hoffman may have believed no one would find them.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a homicide investigation now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tina Herrmann, her son, Kody, and her friend, Stephanie Sprang.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a homicide of three -- three individuals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Investigators found blood in the women`s home.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was the first bad sign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bodies were located in a wooded area, inside of garbage bags in a hollow tree.

GRACE: He did tree trimming and was an outdoorsman?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never experienced a case this big, this serious and this tragic.


LALAMA: I`m Pat Lalama, in for Nancy Grace. Paul Penzone, former sergeant, Phoenix PD and child advocate -- blood in the house, beer cans, things askew but no sign of a struggle -- from the police mind, what does that tell you?

PENZONE: Well, you`re looking at victims here who are not going to be your typical (INAUDIBLE) You have a young boy and you have two ladies who are probably of smaller statue -- stature, and along with that young girl. So his ability to overpower, intimidate or actually manage that scene and those folks through fear was probably in his favor. And because of that, you may not see as much of a struggle.

But this crime scene, although this crime itself is very complex, you`re going to have a lot of things -- there`s what`s -- you know, exchange of evidence in any crime scene, him going to, from home into that wilderness. So pieces of him will be left along that trail and pieces of those victims, unfortunately -- (INAUDIBLE) talk about trace evidence, are going to be exchanged. So there`s going to be a considerable amount to tie him to this crime, I would imagine.

LALAMA: All right, let me try this name again. Dr. Radha Mikkilineni, doctor of internal medicine -- that evidence is so, so important. Describe for us what authorities or investigators need to find in this case.

MIKKILINENI: Well, they would essentially need to find trace evidence, including fibers, blood, hair, clothing articles that would be present along the path that he used to get to the tree where he dumped the bodies.

LALAMA: But if he`s got the bodies in a bag, Matt Bruning, it seems like he`s covered his tracks in more ways than one. This guy very clever.

BRUNING: Absolutely. I mean, just listening to all of the details -- the few details that the sheriff has released about what they think may have happened here, it`s obvious that this guy had to have done some planning of some sort and really put together this plan ahead of time because it is very complex, and honestly, very impressive that he could come up with all of this and have the equipment to do it and the plan to do it. It`s not only impressive, it`s quite, you know, puzzling to me, actually, and very disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigators received information from Matthew Hoffman upon the location of where the three victims were eventually found.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a homicide of three individuals.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: An Ohio family reported missing more than a week. They`re dead.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: All hope again dashed today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bodies were in trash bags and the trash bags were inside of the hallow tree.

NANCY GRACE, HOST: A tree trunk? How do you put three bodies in there?

BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST, AUTHOR OF "DEALBREAKERS": This guy with a tree trimmer, he severed limbs for a living.

DR. EVELYN MINAYA, M.D., WOMEN`S HEALTH EXPERT: You have to unfortunately dismember every single body, which is a travesty. It really is.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Hoffman had purchased 50-gallon trash bags and a tarp at a Wal-Mart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s had experience as a tree trimmer.

MINAYA: They were in three separate trash bags.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Was the death penalty ever on the table or used as a tool for leverage to get a confession?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the things I can`t comment on is whether or not there is a confession or the content of any confession.


LALAMA: I`m Pat Lalama, in for Nancy Grace.

Alan Ripka, even law enforcement have said they would not have found these bodies but for him leading them to that horrible scene. Now it seems to me that`s going to carry a whole lot of weight in a death penalty state.

ALAN RIPKA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think so. But I -- I`ll tell you, I think that they would have found these bodies with cadaver dogs. If they started searching the woods with cadaver dogs, despite it being within the tree, I think the dogs would have picked up on the scent and they would have eventually found these bodies.

However, the fact that he was able to take the police to the scene is going to be heavy evidence against him. But if he goes to all that trouble to hide these bodies in a tree and then takes the police to where they are, it sounds like he`s very, very confused.

LALAMA: Yes, definitely. But by the way, Alan, there were dogs in the woods but apparently unable to find the bodies. But who knows how long they have been searching.

The callers have been so patient. I`m so grateful. And I want to take Kathy in New York.

Good evening, Kathy.


LALAMA: I`m well. Thanks. Your question?

KATHY: I was just wondering, what led police to this guy`s basement to find the little girl?

LALAMA: Well, that`s a very good question, Matt Bruning. How did they get to the basement to find Sarah?

MATT BRUNING, REPORTER, NEWSTALK 610 WTVN: Well, you know, investigators have been tight-lipped about exactly what led them there. We can only assume that it was some sort of tip. We`d also heard maybe the receipt from Wal-Mart`s could be involved there as well, where he bought the tarp and the trash bags.

But investigators have not come out and just put it out on the table exactly what piece of evidence it was that led them to that house in Mt. Vernon.

LALAMA: Now maybe that`s something they want to keep close to the vest at this point.

Patricia in Louisiana, good evening.

PATRICIA, CALLER FROM LOUISIANA: Good evening. I have a question. I was wondering, do they know if the two mothers were abducted first or the children?

LALAMA: Who was abducted first?

Jean Casarez, do we have any clue? I don`t know if we have Jean. How about Phil Trexler, reporter, "Akron Beacon Journal." Give us a timeline.

PHIL TREXLER, REPORTER, AKRON BEACH JOURNAL: Yes. There really hasn`t been any conclusive announcements as to whether, you know, they were taken separately or abducted the same time.

I think the assumption is that everyone was in the house together when this all occurred. I mean that`s what the evidence is pointing to, that this all happened at one time. But again as Matt pointed out, the sheriff and the prosecutor are keeping a tight lip on the evidence in this case so far.

LALAMA: Jean Casarez, do we have clue whether there was any further harm to this poor little girl other than being bound and gagged?

JEAN CASAREZ, LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION": No, at this point we just know bound and gagged. But this is an important piece of the puzzle because if there is a defense of insanity, not knowing right from wrong, prosecutors can point to this young woman whose life was saved but she was bound and gagged. In other words, she was kidnapped. And that`s someone that knows they`re doing something wrong.

LALAMA: Very interesting.

Michelle Golland, psychologist,, you know, everyone is thinking motive. What was the motive? What drives a person like this?


LALAMA: And here`s a guy who hid in trees and stared at people. We talked about the squirrels.

GOLLAND: Right. Right.

LALAMA: You know he`s got -- he`s got a record. Arson. Big, big arson case.


LALAMA: Apparently assault on an ex-girlfriend.


LALAMA: Paint another picture for us of who this guy is and how he`s thinking.

GOLLAND: You know, Pat, what this is, is this is probably an individual who as a teenager had what we would call a conduct disorder. That`s someone who -- it`s leading into anti-social personality disorder. And that`s somebody who is setting fires, killing animals, having no remorse, strange, odd behavior.

And, you know, again we`re not sure -- she could have -- there may be other people that he has harmed in the past. But clearly this is someone who is manipulative, deceptive, aggressive, enraged.

And I think really the motive that will come out is that there was some sort of stalking and obsession around this young girl, and that that was the motive for these killings and to keep her and hopefully she was the first one, and now obviously the last one.

LALAMA: And Kirby Clements, that little girl -- again I want to go back to this because what she saw, what she witnessed is going to be really pivotal in this case and everyone is going to have to tread carefully because she is a young woman and she has -- or young girl and has been harmed psychologically no doubt.

CLEMENTS: Absolutely. Any time that you`re dealing with a child witness or someone of a tender age, you have to tread very lightly with them, number one just because you don`t want to damage them. But as a defense lawyer, because you don`t want the jury to hate you or hate your client because you`re beating up on them.

Secondly, I mean the prosecution themselves are going to have to be very careful with this young lady. Because they`re going to be the ones to ask her all of these gruesome details.

I doubt the defense lawyer is going ask her to recount the murders of her mother and her brother and this other -- this other woman. So it`s going to be prosecutor who really has the toughest time here.

LALAMA: And Alan Ripka, defense attorney, I know you`re not a psychologist, you`re an attorney. But it is kind of interesting that he apparently said, oh, I`m glad the cops raided my house because Sarah can go home. It`s almost like he has some strange obsession with the young girl that could have ended up causing all this horror.

RIPKA: It sounds that way. It also is something that a defense attorney is going to use telling the court and the jury that despite his actions, he had some remorse, he had some conscience, and was happy that the little girl was released because he could have killed her as well. So that would be a tool for the defense.

LALAMA: Paul Penzone, former sergeant, Phoenix PD, child advocate, have you seen cases where a brutal, horrific, heinous human being can kill all these people and a dog, but one person remains, you know the -- almost angelic character, the one he doesn`t harm?

PAUL PENZONE, DIRECT OF PREVENTION PROGRAMS, CHILDHELP.ORG, FMR. SERGEANT, PHOENIX PD: And without having a background in psychology, that`s my gut instinct from my experiences that the obsession for her is probably what kept her alive.

But I think there`s two critical things to consider here, because it was so complex. But his expertise was in tree trimming and understanding that terrain. I think that works against him as an investigator. And additionally, I wonder what your psychologist feels about his.

There is a distinct tie between both arson and abuse of animals tied to the propensity and future predictions of violent crimes such as these. And I think it`s unique to see both of those with his background. So it doesn`t surprise me that led to this.

LALAMA: Yes, Michelle, you did touch on that. Killing animals. Burning things up. Give us a profile.

GOLLAND: You know, again, I like to say -- I mean unless there`s some sort of head trauma that happens as a child, anti-social personality and psychopaths are made. They are made and they -- and we see them develop from an early age. They often will have what I`ve said is conduct disorder, meaning they are acting out at school. They are aggressive. There may be some sort of abuse in his history, we shall see.

I will not be at all shocked if there was some sort of physical sexual abuse that happened against him. That is often what happens with individuals that become antisocial personality disordered. And then yes, again arson. All of these things are how they get their aggression and rage out on the public.

And I clearly think -- I`m going to say it. You know she is so lucky that she lived because my prediction would have been he would have abused her physically, sexually and then he would have disposed of her. That`s exactly what would have happened.


GOLLAND: As he did others.

LALAMA: And Jean Casarez, we were just looking at the burned building of this condominium complex, I believe. He was supposed to pay back some restitution, like a big chunk. What do you know about that?

CASAREZ: Well, he had money that he was going to pay, but I think also the proximity. He lived about 10 miles from where this family lived and the family was taken to the tree about 20 miles from where they lived. So it was all in the general vicinity radius.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There was blood found inside the missing women`s home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a tree, but it was hallow. And the bags were inside of it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Three bodies just founded in a wooded area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigation is by no means complete.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This investigation took a major turn.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It was really the worst possible outcome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That we have discovered and recovered the remains of Kody Maynard, Stephanie Sprang and Tina Hermann.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They were found in trash bags inside of a hollow tree.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Breaking news tonight in the search for a missing Ohio family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The discovery of these bodies was as a result of information provided by Matthew Hoffman.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The man suspected of kidnapping a 13-year-old Ohio girl.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Three bodies just found in a wooded area.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Matthew Hoffman led police to the bodies of the mother, brother and family friend.


LALAMA: I`m Pat Lalama, in for Nancy Grace.

You know it`s worth mentioning Stephanie Sprang, who is the friend, she leaves behind three children. And it`s just an absolute heartbreaking case all the way around. Our hearts go out to anyone connected to this family in any way.

You know, here`s some interesting things about some evidence. Apparently Tina`s car was found seven miles away in Kenyon -- near Kenyon College. And they found a blue sweater somewhere in some woods near the home that may or may not have belonged to Kody.

And Kirby Clements, it seems like we want to talk about this guy`s mental state. He`s got -- he`s got things going on all over the place. And I mean you`ve got to have some sense to be able to trick everybody and throw them off trail like he has.

CLEMENTS: You know and that -- I agree with you. But I think that that`s a misconception about mental illness, is that mental illness does not make you not smart. You can be very smart, in fact brilliant.


CLEMENTS: And suffer from mental illness. So this man -- he may be a sociopath. He can be a lot of other things. But the nature of this crime does suggest some serious mental illness. I read today that when 1 in 5 Americans is supposedly -- suffers from some form of mental illness. But to do what he did, there`s something there. He`s not stupid. He`s not slow. He may be mentally ill.

LALAMA: Well, there are definitely masterful people who has obviously mental illnesses.

And Alan Ripka, that`s why I`m just trying to get inside the head of a defense attorney. If you have this man and it`s your job to give him the best defense possible. You know on the one hand you can say well, clearly he`s off his rocker. But on the other hand he shows a great amount of intelligence on what he did.

RIPKA: I don`t think the insanity --

LALAMA: Allegedly.

RIPKA: Yes, allegedly. The insanity defense doesn`t fly here. And if you try to put something forth that`s not credible it gets worse for you. I mean a guy who obviously is on suicide watch because he feels bad, who carried people up ropes to throw them down a tree to hide them is not insane.

But what we have to do is to just to get the death penalty off the table. And the fight is to get him life in prison. That`s the defense.

LALAMA: Michelle Golland, we only know -- I mean, he`s only connected to this case. But -- and we only know about the arson and then perhaps an assault on his ex-girlfriend. But it seems like someone who would do something this horrific has done other horrific things.

GOLLAND: Absolutely. I mean again we`re not sure yet. We have no actual evidence of that. But an individual like this who is that -- that psychopathic, I would expect that there other victims or other bad, bad things that he has done.

LALAMA: Yes. Unbelievable. I want to go to another caller. Tina in Michigan. Good evening.

TINA, CALLER FROM MICHIGAN: Hi, Pat. Thanks for taking my call.

LALAMA: No problem. What`s your question?

TINA: I was actually just wondering, just like everybody else, with the extremes that he went to to put the others in the tree including the dog, why this other girl was put in the basement and wasn`t included?

It almost seems to me like he wanted to be caught with everything that`s falling in line afterwards. He wasn`t as careful with the receipt and leading the police to the bodies like he wanted everybody to find out that he had done this.

LALAMA: Yes, well, maybe so, Paul Penzone, because he did use the term that he was relieved when the cops raided his house. I mean again, you know, not being a psychologist, but you`re a cop. And you`ve seen perhaps where criminals want to finally just want to end all the hell they live in.

PENZONE: I have seen the spectrum of emotions and responses. And at first you`re really taken back because you don`t know what to expect. But for some it is relieving. For some it`s as though they want to get caught, they want the exposure. Some deal with guilt. There`s all different factors.

The bottom line is, I just think of this little girl and what she went through and what her future looks like knowing that she lost her loved ones this way. And this is just horrible. And if the death penalty, from my perspective, comes off the table, it would be very disappointing. Because this is one of the most brutal and terrible crimes I`ve seen in quite some time.

LALAMA: It certainly is.

Matt Bruning, we know that the autopsies are forthcoming perhaps tomorrow. What about the next court date? What`s up with Mark in that regard? Excuse me, with Mr. Matthew Hoffman in that regard?

BRUNING: Well, he will be in court here again in a couple of weeks. We`re told by the prosecutor that the process of getting this through the grand jury, presenting the case to the grand jury, and then getting an indictment. Could take anywhere from four to six weeks, so it could be a while.

Almost maybe first year, as late as that, before we know exactly what these charges are going to be against Matthew Hoffman if in fact they do charge him which I think all of the evidence is kind of pointing in that direction but as far as the timeline it looks like maybe a month or so before we know exactly what those charges will be.

LALAMA: Phil Trexler, I just have a few seconds. Is he being held in a solitary confinement situation?

TREXLER: We do know -- I`m being told that he is under a suicide watch so one would assume that he is in some kind of special pod or special cell there which is common for people under suicide watch.

LALAMA: We`re going to turn our attention now to something far, far more, more enlightening, more happy. And now tonight`s "CNN`s Heroes."


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and welcome to CNN Heroes. For the last three years "CNN Heroes, An All-Star Tribute," has given us all a chance to come together and honor everyday unsung heroes who are changing the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s just such a tremendous show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what real people do every day with no fanfare and no cameras.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you`re going to go to any awards show come out to this.

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, ACTOR: I am so honored to be here.

COOPER: On Thanksgiving night we celebrate the top 10 CNN Heroes with tributes.

NICOLE KIDMAN, ACTRESS: I want to honor the strength of a remarkable woman.

COOPER: Awards. And inspired performances.

And we announce the CNN Hero of the Year you voted for.

The CNN Hero of the Year is Efren Penaflorida.

But what happens after the show is perhaps the best encore of all. The global exposure all the heroes received can transform their work and their lives.

Doc Henley has just opened a water filtration plant in Haiti bringing clean water to an estimated 8,000 people every month.

DOC HENLEY, CNN HERO: Hello. How are you?

COOPER: Roy Foster is now able to help female veterans. And after being named 2009`s CNN Hero of the Year, Efren Penaflorida captured the attention of an entire nation. His push-cart classroom model has been replicated in more than 50 times across the Philippines.

More than just one night "CNN Heroes, An All-Star Tribute" has the power to change our world, inspiring the hero in each of us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you all so much for having us here today. It is a blessing.



LALAMA: And now a look back at the stories making the headlines this week.


GRACE: Has stepmommy cracked?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m helping the cops try and get my soon-to-be ex-husband in here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She`s trying to cooperate with the police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This woman is just like a shark.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Police in the search.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She`s always moving forward.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want a chance to be heard, damn it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have anything to say?

GRACE: She wants to be in the media.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my life and everyone is playing with it. I have no control over what is said or done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`ve recovered enough physical evidence.


CASAREZ: Zahra Baker is dead.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Jean Marie Burlinghoff is missing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My daughter is not safe at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Breaking news. An arrest warrant has just been issued for Charles Burlinghoff, a convicted child molester and the girl`s uncle.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Breaking news tonight in the search for a missing Ohio family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The discovery of these bodies was as a result of information provided by Matthew Hoffman.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Three bodies just found in a wooded area.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Investigators found blood in the women`s home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just as it`s seen.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That was the first bad sign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a homicide investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A bone found in Aruba. Could it belong to Natalee Holloway?

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY`S MOTHER: The not knowing is the sheer hell.

JORAN VAN DER SLOOT, SUSPECT IN THE DISAPPEARANCE OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY CASE: I`ve never listened to anyone. I`ve always done what I myself wanted.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Bone found in an area where Natalee was seen. A place Van Der Sloot himself had mentioned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I fully believe that he knows exactly where Natalee`s body is.

TWITTY: You want to know what happened and I want to know.

CASAREZ: This has the potential to be absolutely huge.


LALAMA: Tonight let`s stop to remember Army Sergeant Deyson Cariaga, 20, from Honolulu, Hawaii, killed in Iraq. He lost his life just weeks before his 21st birthday. He was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Hawaii Medal of Honor.

He loved the beach, surfing, handing out candy and toys to Iraqi children and working at senior citizen homes and the YMCA. His nickname was Dice. He dreamed of being a firefighter.

He leaves behind his mother Teresa, stepfather Jerry, and grandparents Roland and Horuko (ph) and brother Lance.

Deyson Cariaga, an American hero.

Thank you to all of our guests and to you at home for being with us. See you tomorrow night 8:00 sharp Eastern. Until then have a good night, everybody.