Husband of missing Hartville woman says he threw body into Tennessee River after wife died of natural causes

HARTVILLE, Ohio-- The Hartville Police Department is investigating the bizarre circumstances surrounding the disappearance of a 70-year-old woman.

The investigation started on Jan. 9 when Roberta L. Snider's brother contacted police. He explained to investigators the strange story about the woman's death and disappearance.

Roberta's husband Philip Snider told family members he took his wife to Graceland "one last time before she died." Philip Snider said his wife passed away in Memphis, Tennessee so he pulled over into a parking lot where he saw an EMS vehicle and asked for help.

He claimed the paramedics confirmed she was dead, then took her to an unknown location.

Hartville police spoke with Philip Snider, and contacted EMS companies, hospitals and medical examiner offices in the Memphis area. None had any reports of Roberta Snider or a Jane Doe matching the story.

Hartville Police Chief Larry Dordea said Roberta was last seen alive at the couple’s home on Jan. 1. He said police believe she is dead, but they do not know where she may have died.

“We're talking about an event that's somewhere between here and more than 700 miles away, and some very nebulous information about what transpired on that trip,” Dordea said.

“When you're the only person who knows the truth, and when you're telling a story and you tell it five or six different ways, that's suspicious,” Dordea said, describing Snider as calm, remorseful and deceptive.

He said police had not been to the couple’s home before. Neighbors told FOX 8 News they were shocked and were not aware of any issues in the marriage.

Investigators found receipts that painted a better picture of events. According to police, Philip Snider left Ohio for Tennessee on Jan. 4 and checked into a hotel near Graceland the next day. But surveillance video showed Roberta was never at the hotel.

Police said they confronted Philip with the information. That's when he claimed Roberta died of natural causes during the trip and he, "put her with nature" by throwing her off a bridge on Interstate 40 into the Tennessee River on Jan. 6.

The Benton County Sheriff's Office in Tennessee has been searching the area, but Roberta has not been found.

Investigators are going through phone records, credit card statements and GPS data. They also requested the FBI conduct a polygraph on Philip Snider.

Philip Snider, who has not been charged criminally, declined comment Monday evening about his wife of 53 years, with whom he shares two children.

Anyone with information Roberta Snider should call Hartville police at 330-877-2630.