The mysterious disappearance of Michael Snyder from his home in North Albuquerque Acres, New Mexico, remained unsolved for many years. Investigation Discovery’s ‘American Monster: Anything for You’ chronicles how an unlikely tip led to Mike’s remains, eventually leading to his wife’s arrest. However, the prosecutors had a tough job deciding what to charge the killer with. So, let’s find out how everything turned out then, shall we?
How Did Mike Snyder Die?
Michael James “Mike” Snyder was an Albuquerque, New Mexico, native and graduated high school in 1976. After that, he went to an automotive college, eventually becoming a master’s mechanic. The 43-year-old was described as a kind and generous man by loved ones. During his free time, Mike loved skiing and using his jet boat. He had been married to Ellen Snyder since 1994, and together, they had one daughter.
On January 11, 2002, Ellen called Mike’s family, saying he suddenly left. By then, he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Despite contacting him multiple times, they didn’t hear from Mike over the next few months. The case only picked up about eight years later in February 2010, when a tip led them back to the Snyder home, now owned by someone else. In the backyard, they found Mike’s remains buried in a tarp. An autopsy of the remains confirmed gunshot wounds to the body.
Who Killed Mike Snyder?
Initially, Ellen had told everyone that Mike had run away and was still alive. According to her, he was physically and psychologically abusive. She had also claimed that her husband was gay. The case hit a wall with no evidence until 2010 when a tipster came forward with information. It was a friend of Ellen’s son from a previous marriage. That person told the police that Mike was buried in the backyard of the Snyders’ former North Albuquerque Acres home under a slab of concrete.
When Ellen’s son was questioned, he told the police about what happened, and Ellen was arrested on February 5, 2010. She later told the authorities that their marriage had crumbled over time, taking a fatal turn during the early morning hours of January 11, 2002. Back then, Ellen threatened to tell Mike’s family that he was gay, which enraged him. Fearing for her life, Ellen grabbed a semi-automatic firearm from the closet and fired eight bullets at her husband.
Ellen said, “I start shooting. I don’t know how to use a gun. I shot the wall. I shot the TV. I shot the floor. I shot him. He turned to run, and I emptied the whole gun.” She believed Mike would kill her that night, leading her to take the drastic step. But when Ellen’s son, then 17, tried to call 911, she convinced him not to, leaving Mike’s body in the hallway covered in a comforter. Ellen went to work, and a few days later, she hired a backhoe to have a hole dug in the backyard and later enlisted her son’s help to bury Mike’s body.
Ellen also had a history of forgery and had run up a lot of debt while married to Mike. The authorities also believed she forged his signature on an account to make everyone think her husband was still alive. However, the prosecution had a complex case on their hands since the statute of limitations for second-degree murder in New Mexico was six years, and it had been eight years since the murder. While they could have charged Ellen with first-degree murder, proving it was a deliberate act would have been difficult. Hence, they decided to offer her a deal.
Where is Ellen Snyder Now?
In May 2011, then 52 years old, Ellen pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter with a firearm enhancement, tax fraud, and tampering with evidence. The defense claimed that Ellen was a battered woman in an abusive relationship and had feared for her life during the shooting. Some of her former colleagues testified to seeing Ellen with a black eye and arguing with Mike before he disappeared.
In the end, Ellen was sentenced to 11 years behind bars, the maximum she could get. While Mike’s family believed there was enough to prove premeditation, the prosecution ultimately disagreed. Ellen later said, “I don’t know that I feel guilt. With the situation that occurred, the thing I’m most sorry for is involving my son. I’m sorry for it happening, for his family, for my family.” About eight years into her sentence in 2018, she was eligible for parole. Ellen seems to have been released from prison since then and, from what we can tell, resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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