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April 02, 2022
Warning: This post contains mentions of child abuse and the death of a child. Reader discretion is advised.
The remains of two children missing since 2015 have been discovered behind a shed on a rural property in Hepburn Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. Hepburn Township is approximately 180 miles northeast of Philadelphia with a population below three thousand residents, according to a census published in 2010.
In September 2021, the Lycoming County Children and Youth Services visited 32-year-old Marie Sue Snyder's home on 653 Livermore Road with concerns over the school attendance of her son, 7-year-old Jesse who was not enrolled in school. A medical provider tipped off child protective services after discovering that Jesse was not attending school and was barely literate, adding that the boy was unable to count past ten or recite the alphabet past the first three letters. Despite being seven years of age, he was not toilet trained.
When asked about the whereabouts of her other two children, Nicole Elizabeth Snyder, 11 and Jasmine Snyder, 8, she said they were living with a friend who had been home-schooling them. When pushed for further information about this friend, Snyder refused to provide a name or address but said that she would contact the friend later- she never did. Child services returned the following day asking to see the girls; however, they were informed by Snyder that the friend taking care of them was out of town due to urgent family issues and had taken Jasmine and Nicole with them. Officers demanded Snyder find out the address and pass it on to them, but she never did.
Marie Snyder was residing in a mobile home with her girlfriend, 26-year-old Echo Butler and her girlfriends’ parents, Ronald Butler and Michelle Butler, who own the property.
Michelle Butler was later questioned about her contact with the children and revealed that she had not seen Nicole and Jasmine for six years, since the day Marie Snyder moved into their home. She said Snyder had told her the same story- that the children were living with a friend out of state until Snyder was able to afford a larger home to house herself, Echo Butler and the three children comfortably.
According to Ronald Butler, Echo Butler, Marie Snyder, and her son packed up their belongings and left the Butlers residence on September 26 in what they believe was an attempt to avoid further questioning and investigation from both child services and the police.
Concerned about the whereabouts of the girls, Lycoming County Children and Youth Services began to investigate and discovered that the children had not been seen by anyone since 2015, including the children's father, Joshua Snyder, who told police that he had not been permitted to see the children since 2015 following an abuse order that was filed against him that same year.
Police canvassed the neighbourhood for information of the missing girls and discovered that they had not been seen for years.
The remains of two female children were discovered in Snyder’s backyard by police on November 06 and November 07 and are alleged to be the remains of her missing daughters.
The first body described as “the remains of a small child” was discovered on Friday and the remains of another small child were discovered the following day.
Police Chief Chris Kriner of the Old Lycoming Township Police said he expects the remains to be identified as Jasmine and Nicole Snyder. He believes Nicole Snyder was killed in 2016 and Jasmine was killed in 2017. Nicole would have been 6 years old at the time of her death and Jasmine would have been 4 years old when she was killed.
In a News release update published November 08, 2021, Chief Chris Kriner said: "Both DA Gardner and I agree that this situation is a travesty of colossal proportions, and this investigation will not conclude until all evidence is gathered and analysed, interviews are conducted and justice on behalf of the two deceased innocent girls is achieved."
The remains of the children are being transported to Erie, Pennsylvania to be analyzed by a Forensic Anthropologist and investigators are currently putting together a timeline of events and are waiting on details of the cause of death. The deaths are being investigated as homicides.
Marie Sue Snyder was arrested while at work in Clinton County and taken into custody on November 04, 2021. She was arrested on charges of endangering the welfare of children and obstruction in child abuse cases. Echo Butler was also arrested on the same charges and both women are being held without bail. In her mugshot, Echo Butler casts her eyes down and Marie Snyder appears to be in shock.
Snyder’s son Jesse is in good physical health. Police said: ““The child is doing well, and no health-related issues have been reported.” He is currently in the custody of Lycoming Children and Youth Services.
January 17, 2023