Marie Snyder Williamsport Pa

Marie Snyder Testified Against Echo Butler in Lycoming County Court on Wednesday


WILLIAMSPORT — A mother accused of starving two young daughters to death turned against her girlfriend on Wednesday in Lycoming County court. Marie Snyder testified against her former partner, Echo Butler, claiming she had a premeditated understanding to starve the girls and bury them in their backyard.

The body of a six-year-old girl was found in a shallow grave last November. It was subsequently identified as Nicole Elisabeth Snyder of Hepburn Township. Her 4-year-old sister, Jasmine Jean Snyder of Williamsport, was also buried in the same yard, with police saying both were malnourished and physically abused.

According to prosecutors, the pair were not given any food or water in the weeks leading up to their deaths. Michele Butler, who was living with Snyder and her daughter Jesse at the time of the girls’ deaths, reportedly told investigators that she saw both girls die.

In a plea deal with the commonwealth, Snyder admitted to assisting in the starvation plot by withholding food from her daughters and allowing Butler to starve them without her knowledge. She told the judge she knew there was something wrong with them, but she did not seek medical help for the girls.

She said she tried to call 911 one day but was stopped by Butler and her mother. She added that she and her husband did not discipline their daughters.

The family lived in a trailer behind their house on Livermore Road until 2017. Dale Fisher, who lived with the Butlers until they moved into a house nearby, testified that he visited them a few times each week.

He told investigators that he heard “blood-curdling screaming” coming from the bathroom when Echo gave Nicole a bath. He said he also saw the sisters’ remains in the backyard, which is where they were buried.

Gardner has said he will seek the death penalty if Echo Butler is found guilty of first-degree murder in the cases. He also said he will not oppose a request to release the 49-year-old Butler on bail if she is approved for intensive supervised bail, a condition that requires daily reporting.

During the hearing, Snyder and her son were present for part of the testimony but did not appear in court. The court was told that the girls’ remains were buried in a backyard on their property in Hepburn Township and that they were not seen by authorities for years.

The investigation into the children’s deaths began after the Children and Youth Services department took custody of Snyder’s son Jesse over concerns he was not attending school and not potty trained. The agency then learned that Marie Snyder had two other children who were missing.

Snyder, her partner and their parents, Ronald and Michele Butler, were all charged in the case. Michele Butler was convicted of third-degree murder in July and sentenced to a total of seven years in prison, while Echo Butler was convicted on the same charges and is serving a sentence of three years to nine years in prison.

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