The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 5, 2013

Joshua Snook arraigned on homicide, robbery charges

By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item

— MIDDLEBURG - The 9-year-old son of murder suspect Joshua M. Snook was in the Beaver Township home when his great-grandmother’s throat was fatally slashed during an early morning attack last month.

Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch wouldn’t say whether the young boy witnessed the horrific knife attack that left Bonnie J. Snook, 71, dead on her kitchen floor and her husband, Dale W. Snook, 72, injured with a laceration on his arm at about 3:30 a.m. Feb. 17.

“It was a brutal attack. There was blood all over that house,” Piecuch said, estimating the assault at 1542 Creek Road, Beaver Township, took 30 to 40 minutes.

Joshua Snook, 27, of 311 Pennsylvania Ave., Sunbury, was arraigned Monday on two dozen charges, including criminal homicide, aggravated assault, burglary, robbery, criminal conspiracy, criminal trespass and unlicensed possession of a firearm before District Judge Lori Hackenberg.

Held without bail in the Snyder County Jail, he could face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder. Piecuch said he hasn’t decided whether to pursue the death penalty.

Snook’s wife, Jennifer Snook, 30, is being held in lieu of $85,000 bail on second-degree criminal homicide, burglary, conspiracy, theft, receiving stolen property and weapons charges in connection with the attack.

State police at Selinsgrove were called to the Creek Road home shortly before 4 a.m. after Dale Snook called 911 to report that his grandson had shot his wife.

Joshua and Jennifer Snook were seen driving away from the home by police who pulled their vehicle over about a mile away, court records said. Joshua Snook’s young son from a prior relationship was sitting in the back seat. Piecuch said the boy, who often stayed at his great-grandparents’ home, is now with his mother.

Joshua Snook had blood on his hands and clothing and a Ruger 9mm handgun and ammunition were found in the car, police said.

According to the criminal complaint, the young couple were at a bar in Northumberland hours earlier when Joshua Snook and an unidentified man got into a fight that led to Snook being struck in the chest and neck.

Joshua Snook told police he and his wife left the bar with the intention of going to his grandparents’ home to get a gun that would be used to scare the man who had allegedly struck him, court records said.

Though he didn’t recall hurting his grandparents or how he got into their home, Snook allegedly remembered getting a knife from the kitchen cabinet — which he had previously used to get into the gun case under his grandparents’ bed — and using it to obtain a Ruger 9mm, court records said.

He also remembered walking into the back door of the home and seeing his grandmother on the floor and his grandfather pleading with him to leave so he could get her help.

Police described a horrific scene inside the home. Two windows were smashed and blood was splattered throughout, including the kitchen, where Bonnie Snook was laying facedown on the floor with her neck cut, the living room, hallway, two bedrooms and a stairway leading to the lower level of the home.

In the lower level, a gun cabinet was broken into and several rifles, ammunition and other items were strewn around the room.

An autopsy performed at Lehigh Calley Medical Center by forensic pathologist Dr. Rameen Romney determined Bonnie Snook bled to death from a stab wound to the neck that cut her jugular vein and carotid artery.

Dale Snook was treated for a 1 1/2-inch cut on the wrist and a three-inch contusion on the temple at Geisinger Medical Center.

In police custody immediately after the attack, Joshua Snook was highly agitated and spit on officer Matthew Wenrich, court records said.

Jennifer Snook told police about the argument at the bar, but said they left to pick up her husband’s son at the elderly Snooks’ house.

She parked the car in the cemetery next to the home and stayed inside while Joshua Snook went into his grandparents’ house.

According to court records, Jennifer Snook said she fell asleep and woke up as her husband and his son were walking across the yard toward the car.

Phone records show that Joshua Snook called his father, Jay E. Snook, four times about an hour before the attack. Jay Snook said his son told him about the altercation with the other man at the bar and about his plan to get a gun and use it to kill the man.

Such a brutal killing is an unusual occurrence in the small rural Snyder County, Piecuch said.

“This is a quiet area,” he said. “It’s a tragedy all the way around.”

Preliminary hearings for both Joshua and Jennifer Snook are scheduled for Friday afternoon in Hackenberg’s court.