NEW YORK (AP) — A 13-year-old girl kidnapped by an out-of-work tree-cutter who admitted killing three other people and stuffing their bodies in a hollow tree gave a network television interview on Tuesday to show that she’s a survivor.
“Yeah, I’m brave,” said Sarah Maynard during the segment on NBC television. “People ask me a lot of questions and I tell about what happened,”
“I just listened to everything he told me to do,” she said in explaining how she got through her four days as Matthew Hoffman’s captive in November. She said she stayed strong hoping someone would find her.
Police who raided Hoffman’s home in Mount Vernon in central Ohio found her bound and gagged in the basement on a bed made of tree leaves. “He said he wanted to make my bed comfy, so he just put leaves there, so I could sleep,” the girl said.
After another four days, investigators using information provided by Hoffman through his attorneys found the dismembered remains of Sarah’s mother, Tina Herrmann, the girl’s 11-year-old brother, Kody Maynard, and family friend Stephanie Sprang in garbage bags stuffed into the tree.
Hoffman pleaded guilty last month in the killings and to kidnapping and raping the girl and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The Associated Press normally does not identify the victims of sexual assault but is doing so in this case because the girl is speaking out.
In his recently released confession, Hoffmann portrayed the killings as the result of a burglary gone wrong at Herrmann’s home.
“I would not have hurt her,” he said of the girl. “I could not hurt her.” He said he cooked her hamburgers during the time he was holding her captive.
Sarah Maynard said that wasn’t true.
“I think he was just trying to say that in his letter to make people think that he felt good about himself, for him to think he fed me and stuff. And he didn’t,” she said as she sat Tuesday for the TV interview with her father, Larry Maynard, at her side. “He (Hoffman) didn’t let me shower or any of that stuff,” she said.
The teen said she stays strong by trying to get on with her life and not thinking about what has happened. Her father called Sarah’s strength an inspiration.
“Me, as her father, I’m supposed to be the teacher,” Larry Maynard said. “But I think she’s taught me far more than I could ever teach her about life.”
Interview with Sarah Maynard: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/41714780?fl=AP