What to Know
- Lisa Snyder is accused of killing her children, 4-year-old Brinley Snyder and 8-year-old Conner Snyder, inside their Berks County home.
- The coroner in Lehigh County, where the children died three days after being found, ruled the deaths to be from hanging.
- Snyder faces first- and third-degree murder charges.
Editor's Note: A warning that some may find the details of this story disturbing.
A Pennsylvania mother now faces murder charges in the deaths of her two young children found hanging from a heavy-duty dog cable in their home more than two months ago.
On Monday morning, Pennsylvania State Police arrested Lisa Snyder for the deaths of 8-year-old Conner Snyder and 4-year-old Brinley Snyder.
"This is a horrific, tragic incident," Berks County District Attorney John Adams said at a Monday afternoon news conference.
On Sept. 23, around 4:30 p.m., state police received a 911 from Snyder reporting she found Conner and Brinley unresponsive in the basement of their home on Route 143 in Albany Township.
Medics arrived at the scene a few minutes later and found the siblings in the basement hanging about three feet apart from a single vinyl cable used to leash dogs, according to the an affadavit of probable cause.
The cable was wrapped around the main support beam in the basement and each end of the wire was wrapped around the childrens' necks. Medics also found two dining room chairs that were knocked over under the children.
The siblings were airlifted to Lehigh Valley Hospital, Cedar Crest, where they died three days later.
An initial autopsy was inconclusive pending further investigation. On Monday, Lehigh County Coroner Eric Minnich ruled that both children died by hanging and the manner of death was homicide.
Police searched inside the home for evidence and confiscated several electronic items, including cellphones, iPads, computers and an Xbox that Conner often used.
The dog cable that was wrapped around the childrens' necks had been ordered by the defendant the day before. She picked it up from a nearby Walmart the morning of the deaths, Adams said. During a search of the home, investigators found two pink plastic bindings from the cable, a.k.a. a lead, that were labeled "super" and "250 lbs."
The phone she ordered the cable on has yet to be recovered, Adams said.
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Snyder is charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, child endangerment and tampering with evidence.
The 36-year-old is also accused of having sex with a dog and cruelty to animals after evidence of bestiality was found on her Facebook Messenger account, investigators said. The evidence was uncovered during the investigation, police said, and the messages were from a few weeks before the killings.
A handcuffed Snyder didn't answer reporters' shouted questions after her initial court appearance Monday morning. She remained jailed without bail Monday. Her attorney has yet to return NBC10's request for comment on her behalf.
Snyder only agreed to speak to investigators twice, early on in the investigation, Adams said.
Snyder told investigators Conner had been bullied at school and was suicidal. She indicated that he said he didn't want to go alone so he also hanged his sister.
The weekslong investigation revealed no evidence of bullying, Adams said. And an occupational therapist for Conner said it would have been extremely difficult for Conner to hang himself, let alone his sister.
"The only person that ever indicated that someone was bullied, that being Conner, was the defendant," Adams said.
Before the killings, Snyder had expressed to a friend and a family member that she she did not care about her kids anymore, the affidavit said. In the days leading up to the siblings' deaths she searched various means of death on the internet, investigators said.
A witness who lived in the home said it was also extremely rare for the children to play in the basement, disputing Snyder's claim that Conner went downstairs with two chairs to play "fort."
Snyder had her children taken from her on at least one occasion in the past but later had the children returned, Adams said, while not discussing the circumstances of that earlier incident.
Adams also said they have not yet decided if the death penalty will be pursued.