BOONE COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Three decades after a David Snider disappeared and was later found dead, Boone County investigators have a working theory they believe could help them solve the cold case murder.
Angela Staton says she married Snider, known as “Shorty,” in February 1990.
“He was a great person," Staton said. "He was always smiling and happy, good hard worker and great stepfather.”
Two months after they wed, Snider was supposed to return from a work trip, but Staton says she never saw him again.
“He left March the 30th [1990,] and I hadn’t heard from him, so here I was mad and upset, I thought he’d just abandoned me," Staton said. "Nine years later, I get a knock at my door, and it’s investigators. They found his bones in the woods.”
According to investigators, in October 1999, a man who was stopped on I-275 near Hebron came across Snider’s remains. Detectives said Snider had been shot and killed and then left in a wooded area.
A tree helped investigators determine how long he had been there.
“When he collapsed and went to the ground, a seedling was pretty much right in the area where he impacted the ground, so that little seedling grew over a time period, and a part of his scalp was actually still on the tree, which the medical examiner, she took note of that," Boone County Sheriff’s Office Det. Coy Cox said. "So by dating the tree, she said, ‘I think he’s been down about nine years.’”
Although Snider had a checkered past and, according to Cox, had spent some time behind bars for drug and theft charges, Staton says he was respectful and kindhearted and did not deserve a brutal death.
“[We were] two broken people with pasts that found each other, and when I met him, he was just a great person. Your past doesn’t define you," Staton said.
It is Snider’s prison connections that are at the center of the BCSO Cold Case Unit’s working theory. Cox believes Snider may have helped two escapees, who then repaid Snider by taking his life.
“It’s our belief that he actually gave them a ride after their escape from the area of the penitentiary and that they were traveling toward where they lived, which would’ve been on that path on 275," Cox said. “We believe that they eliminated him because he knew too much and took his vehicle.”
Thirty years later, Detective Cox says the cold case can be solved if the right person does the right thing.
“It would be justice for Shorty," Staton said. "His life mattered.”
Staton currently lives in Tennessee but says she keeps in touch with investigators.
Cox explains their theory is just that — a theory — so he is urging anyone with information to report it to them.
Anyone with information can call the sheriff’s office at (859) 334-2175.