After finding her 8-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter hanging from the basement ceiling of their Pennsylvania home, suspended in the air at either end of a dog leash, Lisa Snyder put forth a narrative explaining how her son had been bullied, angry and suicidal. That narrative collapsed Monday, with authorities alleging she concocted the story to cover up the fact that she murdered her children.
The 36-year-old Snyder has been charged with first-degree and third-degree murder for the hanging deaths of her son Conner Snyder and daughter Brinley Snyder, two months after they died. The details of Snyder's alleged crimes, including what she initially told police, are laid out in charging documents made public this week.
Snyder told investigators that Conner "had been bullied and that he told her on multiple occasions that he wanted to die" adding that "he is overweight, has a speech delay," "is a little slower to grasp things" and that "kids make fun of him because he is fat,” according to the documents. She said that Conner had been bullied at school since the first grade and “is just angry.” She also claimed he tried to kill himself in the past and told her "I wouda [sic] killed myself already but I am scared to go by myself,” adding that she believed that's why he dragged his little sister into his suicide plot.
She even changed her Facebook profile to a photo with the phrase “Words scar, rumors destroy, bullies kill” following the death of her children, the Morning Call reported.
Days before her children were found hanging, Snyder texted an unidentified person, "Things are bad. Bullying issues n tells me he wants to die," according to the charging documents.
She claimed that her son lost 25 pounds because of the bullying, according to the documents.
“Breaks my heart,” she texted. “ I just wanna cry.”
However, the charging documents allege that she was the only person who claimed Conner was bullied and that witnesses and surveillance footage from a school bus actually appear to show he was a happy 8-year-old.
"Eight-year-olds, generally, that I am aware, do not commit suicide so of course we had questions almost immediately,” Berks County District Attorney John Adams said during a Monday news conference.
In addition to the murder charges, Snyder has also been charged with tampering with evidence, endangering the welfare of children, animal cruelty, and sexual intercourse with a dog on Monday. In fact, authorities allege that a day after texting the unidentified person about her son's bullying, she sent pictures to the same person showing her sexually abusing a dog.
While Adams said that there was no evidence to suggest Conner was ever bullied, he did validate the mother’s claim that he had some struggles. However, those problems only reinforce the idea that he was murdered, according to Adams.
An occupational therapist told detectives that Conner would have been unable to open the clasp on the dog leash himself, saying he had poor balance, motor skills and dexterity, which includes his finger and thumb, according to the charging documents. Conner had issues tying his own shoes, the therapist said. She also said he struggled to "move a chair in a classroom from one place to another" and noted he was "clumsy and would bump into things."
Authorities contend that casts doubt on Snyder's story that Conner had carried two dining room chairs described in the documents as “heavy” down to the basement before the hanging incident. She said "it took him awhile, but he got them down there.”
Snyder claimed, according to the documents, that she was putting laundry away while Conner brought the chairs down to the basement; she then went outside for a cigarette and to throw the dog’s toy around for 10 minutes. The dog reportedly had been given away by the time investigators began interviewing the mother about the deaths.
She told investigators that she then went inside to ask the kids if they wanted frozen pizza or Chef Boyardee for dinner. It was then that she claimed she found her kids hanging from the leash and unresponsive, with the two dining room chairs toppled on the basement floor. Snyder said she tried to lift her daughter, who weighs 40 pounds, but said "when her 'anxiety spikes' she starts to sweat profusely, and she was unable to get the latch off,” according to the charging documents.
“I would agree that we all may think that a mother of children who are found hanging would make every effort possible to save them,” Adams said Monday. “That was not done in this situation.”
Investigators have also noted that while the mother claimed her kids regularly played in the basement, a witness who lived in the house said they could only recall the kids doing so once before.
Snyder is being held without bail. Her lawyer Dennis G. Charles did not immediately respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment.
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