The remains of Tina Herrmann, 32, her 10-year-old son, Kody Maynard, and friend Stephanie Sprang, 41, were found in trash bags stuffed in the hollow of a tree in a case that has shocked the people of Knox County.
"I have never experienced anything this big, this serious and this tragic," says Sheriff David Barber.
Authorities were told where to find the victims by lawyers for suspect Matthew Hoffman, 30, a tree trimmer who has served prison time for arson, according to CNN.
Hoffman is in custody for investigation of kidnapping Herrmann's daughter, 13-year-old Sarah Maynard, who was found alive in Hoffman's home on Sunday. According to Barber, the victims were killed at their house, about 10 miles from where Hoffman lived.
While Sarah was home at the time of the murder, Barber did not indicate if she witnessed the slayings.
"Sarah is with family and is doing well," Barber said at a press conference. "She is a very brave little girl."