Ohio sheriff: Blood in home a factor in 4 missing

An unusual amount of blood found in a missing woman's home is evidence of an injury apparently related to her disappearance with her two children and a female friend, a sheriff in Ohio said Saturday.

Knox County Sheriff David Barber did not say who investigators believe was injured inside the home of 32-year-old Tina Herrmann in Howard, about 60 miles north of Columbus, and he would not elaborate.

"The one thing I can say about it is that it's an unusual amount," Barber said of the blood. "It isn't from someone stubbing their toe or cutting their finger, you know, or peeling an apple or something like that."

Herrmann was reported missing Wednesday, along with her 13-year-old daughter, Sarah Maynard, 10-year-old son, Kody Maynard, and 41-year-old friend, Stephanie Sprang.

Investigators were searching by air and land and in a private lake about a half-mile from the home. Friends and neighbors began their own search at about 7 a.m., leaving from nearby Kenyon College, not far from where Herrmann's pickup truck was found Thursday night.

While investigators were continuing to question people and evaluate evidence, Barber said no activity had shown up on the women's cell phone or credit card accounts.

"We're asking people to keep a guarded but optimistic attitude about how this case is going to unfold," he said.

The sheriff on Friday said there was no indication that the women and children had been abducted. The friend's vehicle was found parked at the home.

Around the rural subdivision of Apple Valley, neighbors were increasingly concerned.

Josh and Alicia Lawson helped search nearby woods and valleys Saturday afternoon for any signs of the two women and two children.

"Everybody knows somebody that knows them, being a small town," Alicia Lawson said. "I just hope they show up and it's all been a huge misunderstanding, but it's starting to feel like that isn't going to happen."

Gene Lybarger, whose children played sports with the missing boy and girl, said his 11-year-old daughter is taking it hard.

"She spent the night with a friend and, when I was dropping her off, she came up and hugged me. She was crying," he said. "I told her, 'Let's just wait and see.'"

The state Highway Patrol, FBI and Center for Missing and Exploited Children were helping in the investigation, and Barber said the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation was continuing to collect evidence at the home.

Barring a major break in the case, Barber said he did not anticipate any further updates until 2 p.m. Sunday.

Amanda Strouse, 23, a resident of Mt. Vernon about 5 miles away, said she and companions took 10 dozen doughnuts to the site of the early morning search attempt at a Kenyon College nature area where Herrmann's truck was found.

"Four people missing. That's kind of scary. And it could have been someone in our family," she said.

Barber said Sprang's three children — 20, 17 and 9 — have been questioned, and her family and friends are wondering why and how she disappeared.

The discovery of the truck near the Kenyon campus, about 7 miles from Howard, prompted the school to impose a lockdown for nearly nine hours, from Thursday night into Friday morning. Students were notified by e-mail, text message and telephone.

The e-mail to students said authorities warned college officials of "a potentially dangerous person in the vicinity." Shawn Presley, a Kenyon spokesman, said students were told to remain in their residence halls as a precaution; those outside or in other buildings were either personally escorted or driven back to their residence halls by campus safety officers.

Signs were still posted around the campus Saturday, where there was a visiting day for prospective students. The handbills alerted students to continue to be cautious and said that their buildings would be locked after 6 p.m.


Associated Press writer JoAnne Viviano contributed to this report.