Philip Snider's story was unusual from the start. In January, the 73-year-old told police a convoluted tale: That he and his 70-year-old wife, who was in poor health, traveled from Hartville, Ohio, to to see Elvis Presley's Graceland in what was to be their last trip. Except, per Snider, Roberta Snider died in a hotel parking lot, he flagged down an ambulance, and he never saw her body again. Fast forward to Monday, when Snider was sentenced to life in prison with the chance for parole in 20 years. He pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated murder, tampering with evidence, and gross abuse of a corpse. What happened between January and that sentencing is a bizarre tale. Here it is:
- CantonRep.com notes Snider's story changed a number of times, with Snider abandoning the ambulance story and claiming instead that Roberta died on the way to Memphis, that he kept her body in the back of his truck, stayed at a Days Inn near Graceland—police have verified that only he checked in—and dumped his wife's body into the Tennessee River from an I-40 bridge on Jan. 6.
- But WKYC reports no body was found in that area of the river, and investigators later confirmed that he was solo when stopping at a gas station just hours into his drive in Wooster, Ohio, reports the Washington Post. Per his story, Roberta should have been with him. A search of his home found a blood-stained sweatshirt belonging to Roberta in a Rubbermaid container; tests showed there was only a 0.1% chance the blood wasn't hers.
- Snider, who at this point had tried to take his own life and had been hospitalized, now had a new story: That Roberta died at home, and that the end was the same: He put her in trash bags and dumped her in the Tennessee River en route to Memphis.
- But then the twist to end all twists: WKYC reports that Snider was released from the hospital in April and became friendly with a 50-year-old undercover female cop who told him she had come to Hartville to tend to her dying mother—and, ultimately, confided in him that she had thought about killing the woman, who she had a difficult relationship with. He allegedly opened up about ways she could do so and get away with it.
- When he finally proposed marriage, she said she needed him to come clean about his first wife—and prosecutors detailed what he allegedly told her, reports WREG: that after fighting with Roberta on Jan. 2, she went to sleep in their living room. He went to Burger King for coffee the next morning and returned home to find Roberta still asleep. He then put a shop cloth on her head and delivered two fatal blows with a 2-pound stake hammer. All the evidence, including her body, went into his truck, and he dumped the items at spots along the way to Memphis.
- News5Cleveland reports Snider was being recorded by the undercover cop during their discussion, which took place at a Wendy's, and has these lines: "Can you imagine a hammer this big and this big around? Say I bonked her in the head and her tongue came out." He was arrested April 20.
- Fox 8 reports that as part of his plea agreement, Snider is to tell prosecutors where he disposed of Roberta's body. CantonRep.com reports he simply said he put her in the Tennessee River. It notes he'll have to show prosecutors where, and if he doesn't, he could be brought back to court.
- What the judge had to say about Snider: "The hottest places in hell are reserved for people like you."
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