A wellness visit about a potentially neglected child revealed some seriously startling news about his siblings.

An investigation was launched in September 2021 when the Lycoming County Children and Youth Services conducted a visit at the home of 32-year-old Marie Snyder in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The visit was about concerns regarding Snyder’s 7-year-old son, who wasn’t enrolled in school.

Investigators then asked Snyder about her two daughters, Nicole Elisabeth Snyder and Jasmine Jean Snyder. The girls, who would have been 11 and 8 years old at the time, were nowhere to be found. Snyder told authorities that the girls were being homeschooled and living with a friend, but sadly that is not what the investigation found.

Police obtained a search warrant for the home. On November 4, Snyder was arrested on felony charges of endangering the welfare of children. The search of the property unearthed a shallow grave containing two sets of children’s remains, later identified as Nicole and Jasmine.

Police believe Nicole was 6 when she died and that Jasmine was 4. Additional charges were then leveled against Snyder’s partner, 26-year-old Echo Butler, as well as Butler’s parents, who also lived in the home. It’s believed all three Butlers were involved in helping Snyder abuse the children and conceal their deaths.

Nicole and Jasmine were born in Lancaster County when Snyder was with their father, Joshua Snyder. Marie and Joshua Snyder were married in 2009. They split in 2014, though they never divorced. It was at that time Marie Snyder and her children moved in with Butler, who was initially just a friend. The relationship later became romantic.

Marie and Joshua Snyder initially split custody of the children, but in 2015, Marie obtained a protection from abuse order against him. She has since admitted the information she used to obtain the order was a lie.

Following her arrest, Marie Snyder waived her preliminary hearing on first-degree murder charges. She agreed to testify for the prosecution, deciding she wanted to do something right for her daughters after not doing so when they were alive, according to District Attorney Ryan C. Gardner. Echo Butler has also been charged with first-degree murder, as well as an additional 17 charges. Her father, Ronald Butler, was charged with two counts of endangering a child and obstruction of child abuse cases. Her mother, Michele, has been charged with third-degree murder.

At a hearing on March 17, 2022, Snyder opened up about what went on in the home. She admitted the two little girls were subjected to physical abuse, verbal abuse, restraint, humiliation, and starvation.

“They were being starved and beaten every day,” she revealed, per NorthCentralPA.com.

“Echo would grab their throats so they couldn’t breathe, and choke them until their eyes would roll back into their heads.”

Snyder recalled Nicole being made to stand with her hands tied behind her back for 12 hours a day. Jasmine was too young, so she was confined to a car seat with her hands bound “so she wouldn’t pick at her fingers.” Snyder also said that the children, who were originally fed three times a day, experienced their food dwindling. They were not fed or allowed water at all in the two weeks leading up to their deaths, though they died at separate times.

Nicole died around May 10, 2016. It’s unclear where Jasmine was, but she was sent away from the home during this time. Snyder said that Butler took Nicole out of bed and put her in a hot bath. She bumped her head while lifting her out of the tub. Butler laid her on the living room floor, where Nicole died, weighing just 10 pounds. She was pale and nonverbal at the time of her death. Snyder did attempt to call 911 but was instructed by Butler and her mother to hang up. When 911 called back, they said the call was made in error.

Nicole was placed in her bed for several days after her death as the family determined what to do with her body. She was ultimately buried in a shallow grave in the yard, with moth balls used to cover up any smell. Jasmine returned shortly thereafter and was treated well for a period of time, with the family moving to another home.

Snyder told Butler she did not want to lose another child. Sadly, that is what happened when Jasmine died around August 11, 2017, after a couple weeks of no food or water. She weighed just 5 pounds at the time of her death. Her body was placed in the trunk of a car and driven to the previous address after Butler’s mother suggested burying her with Nicole.

Snyder, Butler, and Butler’s mother agreed to tell anyone who asked that the girls went to go live with their father, lying even to Butler’s father, who by all indications did not abuse either girl. Snyder said that Echo Butler was the primary abuser, hitting the children with open hands and bashing them into furniture. Butler would even rub their faces in their feces and urine if they had an accident. Jasmine was never potty trained.

Dale Fisher, a relative of Michele Butler who lived nearby, said he knew something was up in the home after a number of visits. The girls, any time he saw them, were only allowed to eat peas from a can. They were skinny and malnourished compared to Snyder’s son. The last time he saw Nicole, Fisher recalled hearing “blood-curdling screaming coming from the bathroom” as Echo gave her a bath.

“I asked Ron and Michele, ‘What the hell is going on in there?’ but they didn’t answer,” he testified.

Fisher and his wife contacted the Lycoming County Children and Youth. It’s believed that during this visit, authorities were told Nicole was visiting friends and only observed Jasmine, during the period in which she was being treated well. This prompted them to discontinue further visits, though no one from the agency testified at the hearing.

Snyder, Butler, and Butler’s parents all pleaded not guilty. They are being held without bond. The remains of the girls are in the process of identification, with state police conducting DNA testing since there were no previous dental X-rays to use for identification. The judge stated that if found guilty of first-degree murder, Snyder and Butler will be recommended to face the death penalty.


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