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Bucyrus Man Admits to Killing 4, Sentenced to 4 Life Prison Terms

A Bucyrus man admitted to killing four men and was subsequently sentenced to four life terms in prison without the possibility for parole during a hearing in a Crawford County Common Pleas courtroom Wednesday morning.

Police said the violent crimes unraveled during a nine-day killing spree between August 25 and September 2, 2014.

bucyrus man

This undated file photo provided by Crawford County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Office shows Donald Hoffman. Hoffman, is accused of killing four men at their homes in Bucyrus, Ohio. Crawford County Ohio Sheriff Office, File

During the hearing Wednesday, Donald Hoffman changed his plea to guilty to four counts of aggravated murder. The change of plea came days before his trial was scheduled to begin. Hoffman originally pleaded not guilty on 21 counts, including aggravated murder and robbery.

Hoffman, 41, said he entered the plea so the community would not be burdened with a trial, Fox8 News reported.

Preliminary autopsy reports showed that the men had been beaten or strangled or a combination of both.

The victims, Freelin Hensley, 67, and Billy Jack Chatman, 55, Darrell Lewis, 65, and Jerald Smith, 65, were all found dead at their respective homes.

Two men were discovered dead on Sept. 1. Two more bodies were found the following day after Hoffman approached officers with information. Police said Hoffman walked into a police station and provided information on all four homicides.

Investigators were originally reluctant to publicly disclose potential motives for the murders. It was an unusually violent string of crimes in Bucyrus, a small city of roughly 12,000 people where the prevalence of drug problems is well known.

Public records show one of the slain men, 55-year-old Chatman, had called an ambulance days earlier for Hoffman after Hoffman entered Chatman’s home and collapsed on the floor, bloody and reeking of alcohol after an apparent assault.

Friends and relatives confirm that at least some of the men knew each other and Hoffman.

The victims’ families were in the courtroom Wednesday morning and were asking for the death penalty.

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