MOUNT VERNON, Ohio -- An unemployed tree-cutter admitted Thursday in court that he killed three people, stuffed their bodies in a hollow tree and raped a 13-year-old girl about two months ago in a case that drew national attention and included a massive air and ground search in the days after the victims disappeared.
Matthew Hoffman, 30, pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, burglary, kidnapping, rape and other charges. He was sentenced to life in prison without possibility for parole.
"This is so sickening, Matthew, to know you even had the guts to do this," the girl said in a statement read aloud in court by a prosecutor.
An indictment alleged Hoffman killed Tina Herrmann; her 11-year-old son, Kody Maynard; and neighbor Stephanie Sprang while burglarizing Herrmann's home Nov. 10.
He also was charged with kidnapping the teenager during the crime and raping her at his home in the small central Ohio city of Mount Vernon. She was found alive but bound and gagged in his basement.
"This has changed my whole life and my family's life, too," the girl, a relative of Herrmann's, said in the statement. The Associated Press generally does not identify victims when sexual crimes are alleged.
In the statement, the teen, who was in the courtroom, shared memories of the victims and said she's no longer scared of Hoffman.
Several other people also made statements in court during the roughly hourlong hearing, and other written statements were submitted to a judge, but not read aloud.
Hoffman also was charged with abuse of a corpse and with tampering with evidence for allegedly taking clothes and bedding from the woman's house because he sought to remove them as possible evidence.
Prosecutors did not pursue a death sentence at the wishes of the victims' families.