A Pennsylvania woman was charged Monday with murdering two of her children, more than two months after they were found hanging from a beam in the family's basement, the authorities said.
The woman, Lisa Snyder, 36, who was arrested at her home in Albany Township, Pennsylvania, on Monday morning, had told the police that her 8-year-old son had been bullied at school and was suicidal, the authorities said. But their investigation found no evidence of bullying and also showed that the boy had a physical disability that would have made it nearly impossible for him to hang himself, prosecutors said.
"Eight-year-olds, generally that I am aware, do not commit suicide," John T. Adams, the Berks County district attorney, said during a news conference Monday. "So, of course we had questions."
Snyder, who was also charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of children and one count of tampering with evidence and is being held without bail, denies killing her children and maintains they committed suicide, according to Adams.
Dennis G. Charles, Snyder's lawyer, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
The police were alerted to the hangings Sept. 23, when Snyder called them around 4:30 p.m. and said she had found two of her children hanging from a beam in the basement and unresponsive. Eleven minutes later, emergency responders arrived and found Conner Snyder, 8, and Brinley Snyder, 4, in full cardiac arrest and hanging 3 feet apart with the ends of a wire cable wrapped around their necks, according to prosecutors.
The children were resuscitated, but pronounced dead three days later, Adams said.
Snyder told the police that she had ordered the cable, a 250-pound dog lead supposedly meant for her 50-pound dog, on Sept. 22, and picked it up from Walmart hours before she found her children hanging, Adams said.
During the investigation, Snyder told the police that Conner was bullied at school and had repeatedly said he wanted to die. The week before, she said, he told her, "I would have killed myself already, but I am scared to go by myself," Snyder told investigators.
However, video footage from the school bus that brought him home Sept. 23 showed a "happy child" with no signs of distress, Adams said.
Investigators found no evidence of bullying after talking with Snyder's 17-year-old son, who also lives in the home, as well as school officials, classmates and other family members.
An occupational therapist who worked with the boy at school told investigators that the child had poor eye-hand coordination and difficultly pinching his finger and thumb together. She said he would have had "extreme difficulty operating the clasp" on the dog lead, according to the police. He had trouble tying his own shoes, prosecutors said.
One of Snyder's friends told investigators that three weeks before the episode, Snyder had said she was depressed, could not get out of bed and did not care about her children anymore, according to the police.
Investigators seized a cellphone, two iPads and a laptop from the Snyders' home. The devices revealed that one day before the episode, Snyder had searched "hanging yourself" and "short drop/simple suspension," a website that described how to effectively hang someone, according to court documents.
On Sept. 30, autopsies were conducted on the two children, and the Lehigh County Coroner's Office later determined the manner of the deaths to be homicide, the police said.
In an unrelated matter, Snyder was also charged Monday with one count of sexual intercourse with an animal and one count of cruelty to animals after the police found pictures of her with her dog in Facebook messages.
"This was a very difficult investigation," Adams said. "Anytime that any of us have to investigate and prosecute cases that involve the abuse or death of an innocent child, it hits us in the heart."