For today’s blog, we have yet another story from my home state of Pennsylvania. This time it involves a murderous mom and her canine lover.
I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence, but here we are.
Lisa Snyder, 36, was arrested on December 2 and charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder, and child endangerment in the deaths of her two children. Additionally, Lisa was charged with single counts of sexual intercourse with an animal, tampering with evidence, and animal cruelty.
On September 23, siblings Conner Snyder, 8, and Brinley Snyder, 4, were found hanged from opposite ends of a single-wired cable attached to a plastic-coated dog lead in the basement of their Berks County home. Beside the bodies were two wooden dining room chairs knocked over. First responders were able to revive both children, but the youngsters were taken off life support three days later and died 14 minutes apart.
Lisa reported that Conner had been suicidal over being bullied at school, but the boy stated he “didn’t want to go alone.”
According to Lisa, Conner was bullied due to speech delays and because he was overweight.
Conner must have hanged his sister before he hanged himself, or so Lisa’s story went.
But there were a few holes in that story.
Police always investigate suicides, but the contradictions in Lisa’s tale, discovered through interviews with family, friends, and staff at Conner’s school, triggered a more in-depth look.
On the day of the children’s deaths, Lisa claims that Conner came home from school and asked for permission to play in the basement, where he wanted to build a fort. He also asked his mom if he could use the dog lead.
While Conner played in the basement, Lisa said she did laundry and went outside to smoke a cigarette. After about 10 minutes, Lisa came inside and found both children hanged.
According to paramedics who responded to the scene that day, Lisa never returned to the basement while they worked to save Conner and Brinley.
It’s not clear how she hanged the children, and Berks County District Attorney John Adams would not comment on whether the children fought for their lives.
Locals were horrified and the community grieved for Lisa, especially after she blamed her children’s deaths on bullying. It’s a big topic, after all.
Unfortunately for Lisa, an older child living in the home who was unharmed informed the police that it was unusual for the kids to play in the basement and that Conner never mentioned being bullied or suicidal.
Lisa told police that Conner was frequently bullied on the school bus, but bus security camera footage showed no signs of that occurring.
In late September and early November, a certified occupational therapist who worked at Conner’s school was interviewed by police. During the discussion, the unnamed individual said that Conner had received occupational therapy due to his “below average visual motor skills” and his “difficulty with dexterity, using his index finger and thumb pinched together.”
Translation: It was unlikely the kid could have fashioned a noose, and a 4-year-old certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it, either.
Meanwhile, Lisa was engaged in an illicit affair. And when I say “illicit,” I mean disturbing. In the weeks leading up to the kids’ deaths, she had sent several sexually explicit photos of herself to an unnamed individual having sex with a black and white dog.
A series of search warrants were issued, and police went to the Snyder home to confiscate a variety of things, including cellphones, a game console, and the dog, a pit bull-husky mix. However, the dog was not found.
A search of the family’s electronic devices showed that Lisa, who wasn’t bright enough to realize a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old with dexterity problems couldn’t possibly hang themselves, had Googled such phrases as “carbon monoxide how long to die,” “hanging yourself,” “I Almost Got Away With It best episodes,” and visited a website about suicide by hanging.
Lisa showed “little to no emotion” when she was arrested and continued to insist Conner had killed himself and his little sister. No surprise there; prior to the murders, she had told the other person living in the house that she was depressed and didn’t care about her children anymore.
Now comes the truly frustrating part.
Berks County Children & Youth has previously removed Conner and an older brother from Snyder’s home, only to return them. I don’t blame the caseworker in charge for this. The agency faces a lot of red tape. And, in the past, CYS faced many lawsuits over allegedly keeping families separated unnecessarily. As a result, their primary goal is to unite families whenever humanly possible. They often face no-win situations, though it would be interesting to know why Lisa’s children had been removed and on what basis the children were reunited with her.
The family’s caseworker is probably destroyed by this. Who wouldn’t be?
Lisa Snyder is currently being held in Berks County jail, without bail. Prosecutors are considering seeking the death penalty.
In a perfect world, Lisa would be released into the general population, but since even hardened criminals despise people who harm children, she is probably being housed in protective custody.
Whatever justice Lisa faces here will be nothing compared to the justice she faces in the next life, and that gives me a bit of solace. How does a mother look her children in the eye and kill them? It’s something I will never understand, and I’m honestly glad that I don’t.