Remains of 2 Children Found in Rural Pa., Police Investigate as Homicide and Mother Is Arrested 

Nicole Elizabeth Snyder, 6, and her sister Jasmine, 4, were last seen in 2015

Marie Sue Snyder + Echo Butler
Marie Sue Snyder, left, and Echo Butler. Photo: old lycoming township polic department/ facebook

Remains of two children found buried in a rural Pennsylvania backyard "most likely" are those of sisters last seen in 2015, says a police chief who announced the arrest of the girls' mother and her partner on charges of child endangerment and obstructing child abuse cases.

Tests still must be performed to confirm the identities of the victims. But Old Lycoming Township Police Chief Chris Kriner said he expects they will be confirmed as 6-year-old Nicole Elizabeth Snyder, whom he alleged died or was killed and buried in the yard in 2016, and her sister, 4-year-old Jasmine Jean Snyder, whom he alleged suffered a similar fate in 2017.

He described the alleged crimes in a news release as "horrific," and said police were investigating the deaths as "homicide."

Kriner and District Attorney Ryan Gardner "agree that this situation is a travesty of colossal proportions and this investigation will not conclude until all evidence is gathered and analyzed, interviews are conducted and justice on behalf of the two deceased innocent girls is achieved," he said.

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According to court documents cited by WOLF-TV, authorities launched an investigation in September after a report that Marie Sue Snyder's 7-year-old son was not enrolled in school, prompting a visit to Snyder's Williamsport home by an agent with Lycoming County Children and Youth Services.

Authorities then noted the absence of Snyder's daughters, who would have been ages 11 and 8, respectively. Snyder said the girls were living with a friend and being home-schooled.

But after child welfare officials could not locate them, they enlisted law enforcement to carry out a search warrant at the home.

Kriner said the investigation revealed the girls were last accounted for in 2015, reports the Patriot-News.

On Thursday police arrested Snyder, 32, and a woman they described as "her paramour," Echo Lane Butler, 26, who lived with her at the Williamsport address, on felony warrants for endangering the welfare of children and obstruction in child abuse cases. Both are being held without bond, and it could not be determined if either had acquired an attorney to speak on their behalf.

On Friday, investigators working with Old Lycoming police, Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI obtained a warrant to dig on the Williamsport property, where they recovered "human remains of what appears to be a small child," according to a police news release.

On Saturday, another set of remains that "appear to be from a small child" also were recovered.

"Investigators believe the human remains recovered on the Livermore Road property are most likely that of the two missing Snyder children," Kriner said. "Old Lycoming Township Police and detectives from the Lycoming County District Attorney's Office are investigating the incident as a homicide."

The remains were being flown Monday to Erie for further analysis by a forensic anthropologist.

"Investigation into the manner of death, motive and the timeline of events continues to be explored by law enforcement," he said.

Snyder's minor male child was located after her arrest and an emergency protective order granted custody of the boy to Children and Youth Services. "This child is doing well and no health-related issues have been reported," police said.

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