A US coroner has said that two women and an 11-year-old boy were stabbed to death before they were dismembered.
Knox County, Ohio, Coroner Jennifer Ogle said Tina Herrmann, her son Kody Maynard and her friend Stephanie Sprang were attacked with a knife and stabbed multiple times in the back and chest.
Ms Ogle said the bodies were later dismembered, placed inside plastic rubbish bags and lowered into the hollow of a large tree in a wildlife preserve.
There were no signs of sexual assault.
Investigators said an unemployed tree-trimmer, named as Matthew Hoffman, 30, gave them information that led to the bodies four days after investigators found Ms Herrmann's 13-year-old daughter bound and gagged in his basement in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
He has been charged with kidnapping and is being held in the county jail.