September 11, 1969, Leroy Snyder, a 38-year-old junkyard laborer, was
arrested and charged with the murder of Gertrude Friedman, 58, at 330 Kaighn
Avenue, Camden, where she had lived and for over 40 years. Attacked in her combination apartment and linoleum
shop, the victim had been beaten and raped before her throat was
slashed. Held without bail on a murder charge, Snyder was still behind
bars on July 2, 1970, when he was indicted for six more slayings in
Camden, all committed between February and September 1969.
had previously spent nineteen of the previous 21 years in New Jersey state prisons for rape and
According to investigators, most of the victims including five women and
one man - were friends or acquaintances of Snyder. All were beaten or
stabbed to death, and two of the female victims were raped. Confessing
to all seven murders on July 10, Snyder claimed robbery as the motive in
six of the crimes, but "couldn't recall" his motivation for
Under New Jersey law, Snyder's plea of no defense on seven counts of
homicide prevented the state from imposing a death penalty for his
crimes. On July 16, 1970, he was sentenced to three consecutive life
terms, requiring the prisoner to serve 43 years and six months before he
is eligible for parole. Referring to a court-ordered psychiatric report,
the presiding judge publicly described Snyder as a "malignant
psychopath" and a "threat to society," expressing the
hope that he would never be released from jail.
Snyder died in prison October of 2001.
to nothing was written about Leroy Snyder's background when his
crimes were reported. He was born in Camden on February 13, 1931
to Rex W. Snyder and his wife, the former Anna Jackson. He
was the fifth of at least seven children, coming after Clarence
F. and Woodley R.
Snyder, Julius Snyder and Margaret Snyder. A
brother James R. Snyder, was born in 1932 and a sister, Florence, in 1936.
The Snyders had come to Camden from Philadelphia, shortly after
the birth of Woodley Snyder in 1926. The 1930 Census shows them
at 919 South 9th
Street. Also living with the family were Rex
Snyder's mother Jane and her second husband, Louis Frazier. The
family broke apart in the late 1930s, the most likely scenario
is that Anna Snyder had passed away, and Clarence F. Snyder does
not appear to have survived the 1930s. The 1940 Census shows
that Woodley R.
Snyder was living at the New Jersey Home for Boys
in Middlesex County. Julius, and James
were living with
grandparents Howard and Caroline Jackson are listed in the 1940
Census for Sleepy Hole, Virginia, which is now part of the city of Suffolk, Virginia.
The Census indicates that the boys were living there as early as 1935.
The 1940 Census
also shows Rex Snyder was boarding at 904 Douglass Street in Camden, and
grandmother Jane Frazier and her husband had moved to 736 Cherry
Street. The Snyder daughters were raised elsewhere, Margaret by
Chasten and Mary Howard, who lived for many years in Pennsauken,
New Jersey. By 1942 Rex Snyder had moved to the 700 block of
Julius, Leroy and James
Snyder were all back in Camden in the 1940s.
Snyder had been getting
trouble with the law since the age of nine. He was sent to
Jamesburg in 1942 for breaking and entering. He escaped
from the Boys Home in September of 1942 and was given a five
year sentence foe crimes during his month on the run. In 1953 he was
sentenced to a 10-15 year prison term for beating and elderly
woman during a robbery so badly that she was paralyzed. Julius
Snyder had at least four brushes with the law between 1946 and
1963 on charges including
burglary, and assault. Both brothers appear to have straightened
as the years passed. Leroy and James
Snyder, on the other hand,
were a whole other
December of 1949 Leroy Snyder was arrested for assaulting a
young woman and attempting to strangle her. with a clothesline.
After a too-short time in prison, he returned to Camden, and
was sent back to jail for robbing and threatening to kill
two young women. He was given four years imprisonment for this
crime. Released from prison on June 23, 1955, he was arrested on
July 26, 1955 for robbing a Philadelphia cab driver, and
sentenced for assault and battery with intent to rob and was
given a three to five year sentence. Released from jail in
January of 1959, he was arrested in August for armed robbery and
prison for ten years. Leroy Snyder was put back on the street in
January of 1969 after serving nine years in prison. Within six
weeks of his being put back on the street, he had murdered his
first victim. Mrs. Lula Crawley was bound, gagged, and stabbed
13 times. Leroy Snyder murdered six more people over the next 8
months. His killing spree was stopped in September, shortly
after the rape and murder of Mrs. Friedman.
Snyder attended the Whittier School at South 8th and Chestnut
Streets before going into the United states Army, most likely as
a draftee, and served in Korea. He was stationed at Walter Reed Hospital in
Washington, D.C. and had been promoted to Corporal by May of
1952. He was arrested in Camden on May 10, 1952 for possession
of a stolen car and was fined $200 and turned over to the Army
at Fort Dix. His life appears to have gone completely off the
rails after this. He was sent to prison at the Lorton
Reformatory on larceny charges for crimes committed in
Washington. Within two weeks of his release, he had robbed and
assaulted a nurse, and killed a busboy with a hammer. His trial
was delayed until 1959, and he was acquitted for reasons of
insanity and confined to the federal mental institution at St.
Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington. Although he had been violent on several occasions,
he was allowed street privileges from 9:00 A.M to 9:00 P.M. to
work in a vocational program. In 1969 while at one of these
programs, he attacked a hospital employee with a pipe, leaving
his victim less one eye. The hospitals' response was to cut his
time allowed off-premises to 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Snyder escaped from St. Elizabeth's in July of 1972 and made his
way back to Camden. He connected with Mrs. Muskogee Edwards, who
had taught him when he had been a student at the John G. Whittier
School at South
8th Street and ChestnutStreet. Mrs. Edwards hired him as a handyman to do repairs at
her home on Kaighn
Avenue. This was a fatal mistake, as James
Snyder murdered her. He had already been caught and returned to
St. Elizabeth's when her body was discovered. James
not tried until 1975. He was convicted of first degree murder,
but apparently never served time in New Jersey prisons, having
been returned to federal custody. Criminally insane, James
Snyder lived out his years at St. Elizabeth's, passing away on
July 16, 2013.