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Ohio Couple Arrested Near Canadian Border For Adopted Son's 2016 Murder, Child Abuse

John and Katherine Snyder were arrested in northern New York state last week on charges that they murdered their adoptive son, Adam Snyder, six years ago and abused their other children.

By Megan Carpentier
Tragic and Disturbing Cases of Child Abuse

A couple formerly from Ohio has been arrested in upstate New York on charges that they abused and murdered their adopted son six years ago and also abused their other children.

John Snyder II, 51, and Katherine Snyder, 51, were arrested in Clinton County, New York — in the northernmost part of the state near the Canadian border — on Sept. 26, according to a press release from the Clinton County Sheriff's Office. Katherine Snyder was arrested on a charge of murder filed in municipal court, while John Snyder was arrested for a felonious assault charged filed in municipal court, according to court documents reviewed by Oxygen.com.

Court papers allege that John Snyder failed to feed the victim, listed by the initials A.S., from Sept. 1, 2016 until Oct. 5, 2016, and that Katherine Snyder caused A.S.'s death by blunt force trauma to the head on Oct. 5, 2016 in a home in Cincinnati.

Police handouts of John and Katherine Snyder

A.S. corresponds to the name of the couple's deceased adopted son, Adam Snyder, who was 8 when he died.

The following day, indictments were issued for the two in the county court of common pleas. John Snyder faces two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of murder, two counts of felonious assault and five counts of endangering children. Katherine Snyder faces two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of murder, two counts of felonious assault and nine counts of endangering children. The case number is the same in both cases, suggesting they are currently charged together.

According to an unsuccessful lawsuit John and Katherine Snyder filed, obtained by Law & Crime, the coroner's report says that Adam Snyder, age 8, died while in the hospital on Oct. 5 of an acute subdural hemorrhage caused by a blunt impact to the head hours before his death, with "widespread acute bronchopneumonia" listed as an "other significant conditions contributing to death."

RELATED: Couple Face More Than 600 Child Abuse-Related Charges For Alleged Serial Torture Of Two Kids

The couple alleged in the suit that Adam had been taken to the hospital on Oct. 4, though they did not say what for, and spent the majority of his day there before being sent home, claiming that he later died of "septicemia with profound neuropsychiatric illness," and not a head injury. Prosecutors told Cincinnati CBS affiliate WKRC that Adam's parents called 911 on the day of his death, at which point he was taken to the hospital and admitted for in-patient care.

In the suit, the Snyders say that Adam was one of "numerous seriously disabled and special-needs children from China" that the couple adopted, and he had only arrived in the U.S. in February 2016. Around the time his death was listed as a homicide, the couple had four other adopted children and one biological child, who had been removed from their care; the state subsequently petitioned to terminate the couple's parental rights.

Hamilton County Assistant Prosecutor Amy Clausing told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the couple's surviving five children were also severely malnourished and showed signs of abuse. In the longer indictment, prosecutors allege abusive incidents dating back to 2014 and ending on the day Adam Snyder died. 

Her office told the paper that the indictments are the result of information provided by the surviving children, who are now older and living elsewhere, allowing them to speak to prosecutors about what allegedly happened in the Snyder home.

Their biological daughter, Allison, told Cincinnati ABC affiliate WCPO that the couple were arrested during a court-supervised visit of their other children. According to WKRC, the couple sold their Ohio home in 2017 and moved to Wilmington, Delaware, which is where Clinton County authorities listed their home address after their arrests. Clinton County Sheriff David Favro told Burlington, Vermont CBS affiliate WCAX that "they had routine contact with the people they were visiting up here."

The couple remain in custody in Clinton County, according to jail records reviewed by Oxygen.com. The two appeared for an extradition hearing last week, Cincinnati Fox affiliate WXIX reported, but told the courts they wished to consult with an attorney before deciding whether or not to face extradition. Under New York state law, they have 90 days to decide; their next court date is Oct. 27.