It was a scene of unbelievable horror: Two Pennsylvania children, a boy and girl ages 8 and 4, found hanging in the basement together with a single dog leash. Their mother, Lisa Rachelle Snyder, claimed the boy was bullied because of his weight and committed suicide, taking his sister with him.
However, a couple months later, police are accusing Lisa Snyder of hanging her own kids with the wire cable dog leash. In addition, Snyder, 36, is accused of having oral sex with her family’s dog in photos she sent another person over Facebook.
In their obituary, the children were described as loving video games and the movie, Frozen.
Since the September 2019 deaths, Snyder had denied murdering 8-year-old Conner and 4-year-old Brinley. Now she’s in jail facing homicide and other charges. The coroner, Eric Minnich, said on December 2, 2019 that the cause of death was hanging and the children were homicide victims.
The children died in Kempton, Pennsylvania. Authorities now say that they had suspicions about the deaths from the start. Lisa Snyder is accused of multiple offenses; first-degree and third-degree murder, endangering the safety of children, having sex with an animal, cruelty to animals, and tampering with physical evidence.
“This was a horrific, tragic incident,” District Attorney John T. Adams said during a press conference announcing Snyder’s arrest. The district attorney said Snyder was arrested on the morning of December 2.
Asked what the motive was, the DA said: “She had expressed to her friend that she had had enough. I don’t know there is any explanation for her behavior at all.” Prosecutors haven’t decided whether they will seek the death penalty.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Snyder Is Accused of Googling Information About ‘Hanging Yourself’ & How to Die From Carbon Monoxide
Authorities allege that on multiple days between September 17 and September 23, leading up to the deaths, Snyder googled the following search terms:
“Carbon monoxide in a car how long to die”
“almost got away with it”
“I almost got away with it best episodes”
“do a hybrid car produce carbon monoxide”
“does a hybrid car produce carbon monoxide while idling”
She is accused of visiting a website that describes an effective way of hanging a person using a short drop/simple suspension, according to a police affidavit obtained by Heavy.
The children’s online obituary says that “Conner S. Snyder, 8, and Brinley L. Snyder, 4, both of Kempton, PA. passed away on September 26, 2019 at Lehigh Valley Hospital Cedar Crest, Allentown, PA.”
The obituary says that both were born in Allentown, PA. “Conner was a third-grade student in the Greenwich Elementary School, Krumsville, PA. Brinley was in her second year of Pre-K at Early Learning Community, Kutztown, PA,” it reads.
“Conner greatly enjoyed building forts and playing video games. Brinley loved playing dress up and she loved the movie Frozen. She adored the characters, Elsa and Anna, from her favorite movie. In addition to their parents, survivors include a brother, maternal grandparents, great-grandparents, an aunt and several cousins. A private service will be held at the convenience of the family,” says the obit.
The coroner’s statement, obtained by Heavy, stated that “Brinley Snyder was pronounced dead on Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 4:26 PM and Conner Snyder was pronounced dead on Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 4:40 PM; both at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Cedar Crest.”
Snyder is being held in the Berks County Jail:
According to Minnich, “Autopsies were performed on Monday, September 30, 2019. Following the autopsies, both the Cause and Manner of Death were Pending Investigation. Following an extensive investigation and collaboration with the Pennsylvania State Police – Hamburg Barracks and the Berks County District Attorney’s Office, our office has ruled on the Cause and Manner of Death. The Cause of Death for Brinley and Conner Snyder is Hanging. I have ruled the Manner of Death for both children to be Homicide.”
2. Snyder Is Also Accused of Sexual Contact With the Dog After Graphic Photos Were Unearthed
The affidavit passages relating to the dog are incredibly graphic and disturbing. Authorities obtained Google records and Snyder’s Facebook account.
On October 28, 2019, Facebook records were received indicating “she engages in a sexually explicit message exchange about her dog performing sexual acts on her,” the affidavit alleged.
The messages were sent before the deaths, in early September, authorities said.
“He’s eating my (female genitalia reference) daddy,” said one, and “he keeps moving every time the flash goes off.”
She’s accused of sending a photo showing a black-and-white dog performing oral sex on her and indicated, “He did good. Up until he started biting…”
She allegedly messaged, “Sorry… kid problems.”
Snyder allegedly wrote, “Things are bad. Bullying issues n tells me he wants to die… He’s 8. Lost 25 lbs in the first 3 weeks of school. Breaks my heart. I just wanna cry.”
She also sent a photo showing a dog on his back and a hand lying on top of the dog’s genitalia, and a picture of a dog performing oral sex on Snyder, the affidavit alleged. In a third picture, she had a ball gag in her mouth while wearing black lingerie, a nipple clip and was holding a cellular phone, according to the affidavit.
“He actually went for it all on his own this time. Was lashing in bed in my underwear and he started licking so I went with it,” she’s accused of writing the unidentified person on Facebook. Then she corrected her spelling as “laying.”
3. Snyder Previously Claimed That Her Son Was Bullied Because Other Children Felt He Was ‘Fat’ But No One Else Told Police the Boy Was Mistreated
When investigators interviewed Snyder on two occasions, she indicated that Conner “had been bullied and that he told her on multiple occasions that he wanted to die.” She stated that she didn’t know much about the bullying, according to the affidavit.
“He doesn’t say much because he knows that I will call the school,” she said, according to the affidavit, which added that Snyder also allegedly told police, “He is overweight, has a speech delay, he needs the extra help, a little slower to grasp things, kids make fun of him because he is fat. He has lost 25 pounds since school started, because he was starving himself.”
She added, the affidavit alleges: “He tells me he hates school, every day he tells me he doesn’t want to talk about school. I did not really see any problems till he told me about the kids on the bus.” She indicated the boy had been having issues since first grade and “just comes home and he is just angry.”
She claimed that Conner had tried to kill himself and said, “We had a little sit-down last week. And I told him, honey if you ever feel like hurting yourself please come to me. He did say to me when we were talking, I woulda killed myself already but I am scared to go by myself.” Snyder allegedly told police “she believed that’s why victim 2 had victim 1 with him, so that they could go together.”
In a press conference, the district attorney said that no one other than Lisa Snyder had claimed that Conner was bullied. “Eight year olds, generally, that I am aware of, do not commit suicide. So of course we had questions,” the DA said.
Police interviewed multiple school officials and family members but “each individual indicated (Conner) never expressed he was bullied or suicidal. The only individual who has indicated that (Conner) was bullied or suicidal is the defendant.”
A witness stated that on September 16, 2019 she had received a text message from Snyder stating that the boy was suicidal and the kids were bullying him but when this witness picked Conner up from school “he was totally fine.” He was laughing and sitting with his friends and never said anything about bullying. Three weeks before, Snyder allegedly told this witness and her mother that she was depressed and couldn’t get out of bed and stated that “she does not care anymore about her kids,” according to the affidavit.
4. Emergency Responders Found a Horrific Death Scene
The affidavit of probable cause, obtained by Heavy, states that, on September 23, 2019, at about 4:30 p.m., a 911 call was received at Berks County Communication. Pennsylvania State Police Hamburg was notified by Berks County Communication of a report of two juvenile victims, a 4 year old female and 8 year old male “found hanging and unresponsive” in the basement of the Albany Township home. Their mother, Lisa Rachelle Snyder, said she found them.
EMTs arrived at the scene around 4:41 p.m. “The victims were located in the basement…the victims were observed hanging approximately three feet apart from a single wired cable dog lead with vinyl coating and ends containing swivel eye snap hooks. The wire was wrapped around the main support beam of the basement and each end of the wire wrapped around the victims’ necks. In the area of the victims were two wooden bar height dining room chairs knocked over on their sides,” the affidavit says.
The children were airlifted to the hospital and were admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit on full life support. They were in full cardiac arrest and were resuscitated, but, by September 26, 2019, they were pronounced deceased.
The residence was secured and a search warrant obtained. Numerous items were seized for evidence retention, including the “vinyl covered wire tie out dog cable with 2 pink plastic bindings at each end labeled ‘super’ and ‘250 lbs,’ which is the wire that the victims were hanging from.”
Police also seized a cell phone used to make the 911 call and a computer and iPad. Snyder claimed the victims used those, according to the affidavit.
Troopers obtained video footage from the boy’s school bus security cameras, but he showed “no signs of distress.” Snyder explained that when the boy came home, he wanted to play on his iPad or laptop but couldn’t find the charger. He asked Snyder if she wanted to go downstairs to build a fort.
The affidavit accuses Snyder of spinning an elaborate tale of what happened that day.
She told the cops, according to the affidavit: “He loves building forts, that’s his thing. They play downstairs in the basement all the time.” He asked if he could take the kitchen chairs down and she said he asked if he could use the dog lead she had on the table. She had just bought it that day.
According to the affidavit, Snyder told authorities she had picked up the dog lead that day at Hamburg Walmart after ordering it online the day before. She allegedly stated that the boy took the chairs downstairs, but they were heavy so he took them down one step at a time. She heard the “plump” of the chair on the step, then creak of the steps as if it was a “slow go.”
She alleged he came right back up, got a drink, took the second chair down, returned for another drink. She alleged she was putting laundry away, took the dog outside and then had a cigarette. She was throwing the dog’s toy and thought she was outside 10 minutes. She went downstairs to see if the kids wanted frozen pizza or Chef Boyardee for dinner and “observed both hanging,” according to the affidavit.
The affidavit contends that Snyder told police she tried to lift her 40 pound daughter up but when her “anxiety spikes” she sweats profusely and was unable to get the latch off. She tried to lift the boy, who weighed 151 pounds, but couldn’t. She then called 911 and never returned to the basement.
Police then obtained a statement from another person who lived in the house and who stated that the children would not normally play in the basement. They usually built forts in the living room, according to this witness. This witness indicated the boy had never mentioned getting bullied.
The children died in the hospital a few minutes apart, according to True Crime Society.
The Reading Eagle newspaper had reported in October that the deaths were “shrouded in secrecy.”
5. The Children Were Known to Family & Youth Services Before Their Deaths
PennLive previously reported that the children had “received services from Children and Youth Services.”
According to the newspaper, “assessment and ongoing case management services” were provided to the kids. More details were not provided on the nature of those contacts.
The District Attorney said in the press conference that there were no prior mental health issues. “There was some prior involvement with children and youth services and in 2014 the children were removed from her care,” he said. “They were returned to her care in February 2015.”
There was also a 17 year old son in the house.
A certified occupational therapist at the Kuztown School District told police that the boy had therapy due to below average visual motor skills and perceptual vision. He had low eye-hand coordination and difficulty with his dexterity, using his index finger and thumb pinched together. She didn’t believe the boy could have operated the dog lead clasp due to his poor dexterity without difficulty. She said it took Conner twice as long as other students to perform tasks.