Interview video reveals details of Hartville murder investigation

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HARTVILLE, Ohio-- Hours of police body camera videos reveal details of their investigation into the disappearance of a 70-year-old woman whose husband has now pleaded guilty to killing her.

The video, released by Stark County prosecutors, begins on January 9, after relatives become concerned about what happened to Roberta Snider.

During the initial interview, her husband, Philip Snider, tells a Hartville officer that his wife died in their car on January 6, suggesting she passed away from congestive heart failure during a trip to Memphis, Tennessee.

Snider tells the officer they went to Tennessee because Roberta wanted to visit Graceland one more time before she died.

In his own words Snider tells the officer he flagged down paramedics who were nearby and  they told him his wife had died and they took her body away.

Snider tells officers that he was shaken up, so he never went to the coroner's office and never completed any documentation but came home to Hartville after spending another night in Memphis.

The story did not make sense to police.

So on January 11, Hartville Police Chief Larry Dordea interviewed Snider again at his home telling him there needs to be a death certificate and questioning what actually happened with his wife's body.

"One part that has everybody scratching their heads: Why did you leave the way you left?" asked Dordea.

"These people, you don't know, you don't know who they work for; you really don't know anything about them, but they take your wife and then you go to get a cup of coffee?" asked the chief.

Dordea then explains that investigators talked with all of the officials in the Memphis area and none of them have any records of his wife or of a Jane Doe matching her description.

"There's no closure without her body," says the chief.

Police, in the meantime, continue their investigation.

Dordea interviews Snider again on January 14, urging him to tell them the truth about what happened.

"If I tell you that I put her in the Tennessee River will you take me to jail? asks Snider.  "Well no, but I have to know where in the Tennessee River to look for her," answers the police chief.

Snider continues to insist, "I didn't do nothing to her," but he changes his story to say that he left Memphis with his wife's body and dumped her in either the Kentucky or the Tennessee River.

"I put her in. I was just barely able to lift her up and put her over the edge. The current took her away," confessed Snider.

Still, investigators had more questions. Video showed his wife was not at the motels with Snider as he had told police and surveillance photos revealed she was not in the cab of the truck with him when he left to go to Tennessee.

In the basement of Snider's home, a cadaver dog alerts to a bin in which they find the front of a sweatshirt with Hartville, Ohio, written on it. DNA from the bin is matched to Roberta from samples taken from other relatives.

Police theorize that the front of the shirt was cut away when Snider dumped his wife's body so investigators would not be easily able to tie her to the small community of Hartville.

On January 30,  Dordea once again interviews Snider.

"All you are really doing is digging this hole very deep for yourself, and I'm here trying to convince you don't dig that hole any deeper," said Dordea.

The interview is conducted after Snider is hospitalized from an attempt to take his own life.

"You are here because the truth is eating you up; let's just be done with it today," said Dordea.

Snider then asks for a relative to join them in the room.

"They think she died at home," Snider says. "Did she?" asks the relative.

"Yes," confesses Snider, saying "I took her to, (Tennessee) she wanted to go one more time...." he continues.

He admits he wrapped her body in plastic to keep urine from getting through the home as he carried her to his truck.

"Your wife is dead. In other words, she can't help you move her, and you put a garbage bag around her bottom and carried her out to your car?" asks Dordea.
"Out to the back of the truck," answers Snider.

When asked if he knows where she is, Snider answers, "In the Tennessee River."
Snider, on Tuesday, entered guilty pleas to three different charges including aggravated murder.

In exchange for a sentence of 20-years-to-life he has agreed to take police to where he left his wife's body.

Chief Dordea on Tuesday would not say exactly when the trip will take place but prosecutors say they want to do everything they can to provide a sense of closure to others in the family and they know months after she was killed it may be difficult to find her.

He did say that he was grateful for the help of his officers and others who persisted with the investigation, getting a guilty verdict in a murder case even though they do not have a body.

Prosecutors say though Snider lied repeatedly throughout the investigation they have reason to believe he is being truthful about where he left his wife's body.

"Based upon his movements through this investigation we believe he did place her in the Tennessee River and I know that it's already in the works for the Hartville Police Department to take him to Tennessee, and show us the exact spot where he placed her in that river," said Dennis Barr, chief of the Stark County Prosecutor's Office criminal division.

**Continuing coverage**

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