Murder of Brinley and Connor Snyder

Connor & Brinley Snyder

On 9/23/2019, Lisa Snyder,36, hung her two children, Connor, 8, and Brinley, 4, in the basement of their home.

Background

Lisa Snyder lived with her 3 children, Brinley, Connor, and an unnamed 17-year-old (who was not injured), in Albany Township, PA.  Snyder was a single mom and was unemployed for 5 years before being arrested for murdering her 2 youngest children.

911 Call

Lisa Snyder called 911 on September 23, 2019, at 4:30pm to report that she had found her two children hanging in the basement of their home. As first responders rushed to the scene, the fire captain inquired about the safety of the scene if it was known how the children wound up being hung. Dispatch records show the operator told the fire captain, “She [Snyder] mentioned that the 8-year-old has been bullied and has made threats of doing this but didn’t want to go alone. At this time, it should just be the mother and the two children on the scene.” Around 4:41 Kempton Fire Department EMTs arrived on scene. According to the Affidavit of Probable Cause, “The victims were observed hanging 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.”

Both children were airlifted to a Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest; while on the way they both suffered cardiac arrest and CPR was needed to resuscitate. Upon arrival to the hospital, they were both admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Unit on full life support. On September 26, 2019, both children were pronounced dead.

Source: The Morning Call

The Investigation

The Pennsylvania State Police Hamburg Patrol Unit secured a search warrant for Snyder’s home on September 23, 2019. They took multiple items from the home- the wire dog cable, a cell phone, two iPads, and a laptop- as evidence. In total 6 warrants were filed.

Detectives interviewed Snyder on two separate occasions. Both times she stated that Connor told her multiple times that he wanted to die.  She explained to detectives that he was bullied due to his his learning challenges and weight; She told them he hated going to school, and he was always angry. Detectives asked what happened when Connor told her that he wanted to hurt himself. Snyder told them  “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.”

When asked what happened on the day of the incident, Snyder said, Connor came home and could not use his laptop since he could not find the charger. He then decided he wanted to go downstairs to make a fort. Snyder told detectives, “He loves building forts, that’s his thing.” Connor wanted to bring the kitchen chairs downstairs, and he was given permission if he brought them back upstairs. Detectives asked Snyder if he wanted to bring anything else downstairs, and Snyder responded, “Yes, he asked if he could use the dog lead, I had on the table I just bought it today (9/23/19).

Snyder described how Connor brought down each chair and how he stopped to get a drink after each one. She told detectives while Connor was busy with the chairs, she folded laundry, and then took the dog outside to have a cigarette. The affidavit says that Snyder went outside for about 10 minutes while she had a cigarette and played with the dog. Snyder went back inside and downstairs to ask the kids if they wanted frozen pizza or Chef Boyardee for dinner.

Snyder continued her story, stating when she got downstairs, she saw both of her children hanging. She described how she tried to lift her daughter, who weighed 40lbs, but was unsuccessful. The affidavit stated, “when her anxiety spikes, she starts to sweat profusely, and she could not get the latch off.” Snyder also said that she attempted to lift her son, who weighed 151lbs, but could not help him either. She went upstairs to call 911 and waited upstairs for first responders to arrive on the scene.

The affidavit states detectives interviewed multiple witnesses during the investigation. Witness 1, who seems to be a friend/acquaintance of Snyder’s, was interviewed on September 24, 2019. Witness 1 was in close contact with the family within the weeks before the incident. Witness 1 told investigators that she had received a text from Snyder on September 16, 2019, stating that Connor has been bullied and is having thoughts of suicide. She continued to explain she picked up Connor that same day. She recalled that he was sitting with friends and laughing- he seemed happy. Connor had never mentioned being bullied or wanting to hurt himself. The affidavit also states that Snyder had visited Witness 1’s home a few weeks prior to the incident. Witness 1 recalled Snyder saying how depressed she had been, how she has been having a hard time getting out of bed, and that she no longer cared about her children.

Witness 2 is a certified occupational therapist assistant who has a contract with the Kutzown School District. Her interview took place on September 27, 2019. She had worked with Connor during each school year since 2018. Connor was receiving occupational therapy for multiple reasons; he had lower than average motor planning skills, poor dexterity, poor hand eye coordination, and issues with perceptual vision. During her interview, witness 2 was shown a picture of the dog cable tied to the pole in the basement. Investigators explained the steps Connor would have needed to take to kill his sister and then himself.  The affidavit states, “Witness 2 indicated she believed it would have been extremely difficult for VICTIM 2 (Connor) to complete the task, as it takes him twice as long to do things compared to children his age.”

Witness 2 was asked specifically about Connor’s skills with string or rope. She explained that whenever Connor had tied a string, one side would be much longer than the other; he would have a hard time finding the middle. She pointed out that the picture showed that the dog lead was tied equally around the beam in the basement and this would have been hard for Connor to do.  

According to ABC13, an older sibling lived in the Snyder residence. The affidavit states that Witness 3 lives at the house but was not home at the time of the incident. We can assume this witness is the older sibling. Witness 3 was interviewed two times. During Witness 3’s interview he stated that it was not normal for the children to play in the basement. Witness 3 could only think of one time the children played downstairs, a year prior when they received scooters for Christmas and wanted to use them. He did confirm that Connor liked to build forts but did so in the living room, using chairs and couch cushions. Witness 3 was also questioned if they had any knowledge of Connor being bullied. They stated they had asked Connor if he was ever bullied because Snyder had told them he was, but Connor never mentioned it.

Autopsies

Dr. Michael Johnson conducted the autopsy for both children. They were both completed on the morning of September 30, 2019. Dr. Johnson determined the cause of death to be hanging, the manner of death was ruled a homicide.

Evidence

Investigators discovered that Snyder had a Samsung Galaxy Note 9. On the day of the incident, she stated that she owned an UMX phone, which was seized on the day of the incident. After learning of the second phone, investigators were granted a search warrant for her Galaxy Note 9, along with any other “electronic communication devices” found at her residence. The warrant was executed on October 04, 2019; During this search five cell phones were located, none of them were the Galaxy Note 9.

On October 09, 2019, a warrant was granted to search through Snyder’s Google and Facebook history. While reviewing these records, investigators found multiple incriminating text messages.

After reading these messages investigators did try to locate the dog, which was no longer in Snyder’s possession. After some searching, the dog Boomer, was located, unharmed, in West Virginia. He is in a loving home.   

Boomer the Dog

Arrest

Detectives arrested Lisa Snyder on December 2, 2019; she was charged with 2 counts of murder in the 1st degree, endangering welfare of children, 2 counts of murder in the 3rd degree, sexual intercourse with an animal, cruelty to animals, and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. 

Defense

Snyder was granted taxpayer money to help fund her defense, who is working on an insanity defense. The defense had filed a motion with multiple requests. They request a change in venue, due to high volume of media coverage which could affect the trial. They also requested for the animal cruelty charge and the sexual intercourse with an animal charge to be tried separately from the murder charges stating the information “will impermissibly inflame the passions of and unfairly prejudice the jury.”

Preliminary Trial Hearing

Multiple people were called to testify in the preliminary hearing, where Snyder entered a plea of Not Guilty. Some of these witnesses were first responders, the nurse in the ER, friends, and family. Jessica Senft, a friend who was corresponding with Snyder while the investigation was ongoing, testified about their conversations. In her testimony, she stated one day in October, Snyder had told her the police have been to her house multiple times looking for one of her cell phones. Snyder also said she was worried about the police finding internet searches she made under Connor’s account, since she was Googling how to kill someone. Jessica also testified that Snyder confided in her that she was debating checking herself into a psychiatric ward, and if she were to be arrested for the murder of her children, she would make bail, and end her own life.

Multiple witnesses also testified about Connor’s personality; stating that Connor was not bullied, he had many friends, and enjoyed going to school. 

Brinley Snyder
Connor Snyder

Snyder appeared in court in March 2022. Her lawyers are arguing for evidence to be excluded from the trial. Defense attorneys are requesting the statements Snyder made to police be excluded, arguing that the police did not read her Miranda rights before taking the statements. They are also requesting the searches she made on Google should be excluded from the trial, stating police did not have probable cause to confiscate any personal belongings. The defense is also arguing that some of the searches that the prosecution may introduce are “lewd, lascivious and/or unduly offensive” and introducing them may skew the jury’s view of Snyder’s character. The hearing for the evidence will be in May.

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