Arson murder case has led detectives to Alaska, U.P.

March 23, 2022

Mason County Prosecutor Lauren Kreinbrink, left, Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole and MSP Lt. James Coleman speak during a press conference.

Arson murder case has led detectives to Alaska, U.P.

Jeffrey Grant

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — The case involving the murder of a Sheridan Township resident has involved countless hours and thousands of miles of travel by Mason County Sheriff’s Office detectives, including a trip to Anchorage, Alaska. 

Jeffrey Grant, 57, died in a house fire at 3746 N. Morse Road in Sheridan Township on Nov. 22, 2021. Grant’s two dogs also died in the fire. The main suspect in the case is Hope Lynn Snyder, 41, of 81 Kincheloe Drive, Kincheloe, Chippewa County. Last week, Snyder was arraigned last week in Mason County’s 79th District Court on five felony charges: 

  • Homicide, open murder, punishable by up to life imprisonment. 
  • Homicide, felony murder, punishable by life imprisonment without parole. 
  • First degree arson, punishable by up to life imprisonment and/or a $20,000 fine, or three times the value of the property damaged or destroyed, whichever is greater.
  • Animals, killing/torturing, second degree (two counts), punishable by up to seven years imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine. 
  • Habitual offender, third offense, increasing the maximum sentence on the primary offense to twice the term. She has served prison time for two prior felonies, a larceny to a building charge from Mackinaw County and a theft charge from Alaska.

On Nov. 28, 2021 Snyder was arraigned in Mason County’s 79th District Court on felony charges of unlawfully driving away an automobile, a vehicle that had allegedly been stolen from the scene. She recently pleaded guilty on those charges and has not yet been sentenced. 

Snyder

During a press conference Wednesday morning at the Mason County Jail, Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Lauren Kreinbrink, Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole, and Lt. James Coleman of Michigan State Police Hart Post spoke about the case. 

Kreinbrink would not state what caused Grant’s death nor how the fire started. She said that information will be revealed during an upcoming preliminary examination. Kreinbrink did state that Grant was presumed alive prior to the fire. Sheriff Cole described Grant and Snyder as acquaintances. 

“We expect law enforcement to provide safety and security and to protect and serve,” Sheriff Cole said. “Another service law enforcement provides is hope.  Hope to victims of crime and loved ones left behind.  In addition, we must seek justice when criminal elements exist that would support potential charges.  These tasks are accomplished by doing all you as an investigator can do, to answer the questions as to what happened and why. 

“This has been the focus of law enforcement since that day in November.  If you will recall, the first question we had the day of the fire was; ‘what happened to Mr. Grant’s vehicle?’  Working with the media, by getting the information out to the public on his missing 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche, authorities in Saginaw located the stolen vehicle on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021.  During this time, Mason County Sheriff’s Office detectives identified Snyder as a suspect in the theft of the vehicle.

The scene of the Nov. 22, 2021 house fire on Morse Road in Sheridan Township.

“This could have been written off as just a fatal fire, but there were things that just weren’t adding up,” Cole said.

“I have never seen a case like this in my career,” Cole said. “I had inside information from our detectives and there was no way we could allow her on the streets and face our public.”  

“Since that time, detectives have worked tirelessly to answer questions surrounding this fire,” Cole said. “I have had the privilege to know the men and women of the Mason County Sheriff’s Office and see firsthand time and time again, their work ethic, drive, and commitment to finding the truth.  All with the end goal to answer those questions, for families and victims, while presenting an accurate and clear case so that justice can be sought.”

Cole said sheriff’s office detectives have conducted over 18 interviews and executed over 23 search warrants, including eight digital devices. Investigations have been conducted in Osceola, Saginaw, Lapeer, Tuscola and Mackinaw counties and Anchorage, Alaska. Detectives have even worked with police from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Snyder was apprehended by police while attempting to board a flight to Alaska at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. She had initially taken a flight from Saginaw to Detroit. 

“Earlier this year, I authorized travel for two Mason County Sheriff’s detectives to Anchorage, Alaska,” Cole said. “This trip was crucial in tying evidence gathered in Mason County and to validate some statements made.  Please understand, the defendant in this case is afforded the presumption of innocence and we must honor this as part of the judicial process.  I cannot go into any further detail on what those statements were, or what was gathered in Alaska other than to say in, my opinion, the trip was worthwhile.”

Cole thanked Michigan State Police Fire Marshal’s Division for its assistance in the case. He said fire marshals have worked alongside MCSO detectives since the day of the fire. He also thanks the sheriffs of Mackinaw and Saginaw counties, along with Detroit Metro Airport Police, Anchorage, Alaska, Police Department, and Alaska State Police. 

“Without these great partners in law enforcement, I have serious doubts we would be where we are today in this investigation,” he said. 

Cole also thanked MCSO Det. Sgt. Tom Posma, who has been overseeing the investigation, and Det. Mike Kenney, who has conducted digital examinations of electronic devices. 

“This work is tedious in nature and it is not uncommon for these examinations to take upwards of a day or two to complete for just one device,” Cole said. “With the workload placed on Det. Sgt. Posma and Det. Kenney, deputies had to pick up additional cases.  This allowed Tom and Mike the time and attention needed to complete a thorough investigation.”

Cole said the sheriff’s office has worked closely with the Mason County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office throughout the investigation. “Every time, Ms. Kreinbrink or a member of her staff answered our calls,” he said. “Her leadership and availability to our detectives has been truly remarkable to watch.  Weekly, Lauren or her staff were by my office speaking with detectives and answering questions.”

Cole also thanked the family of Jeffrey Grant. “I would like to thank you for your patience,” he said.  “I cannot imagine the pain you have gone through, and for that, I am sorry.  But you were patient with us.  During those times when social media was abuzz with various theories and rumors, you allowed us to work at a pace that best served the investigators, and for that, I am grateful.  I wish you peace moving forward.”

Snyder was originally being held on $25,000 cash bail but that bail has now been revoked. A probable cause hearing has been set for 1 p.m. on March 30. A preliminary exam is scheduled for April 6 at 1:30 p.m. 

Kreinbrink said she is confident that she can successfully prosecute the case. It is likely a trial would not take place for at least six to 12 months. Currently, there are two other murder cases in the Mason County court systems: The case against Allen Wellington, who is accused of killing three people, David Mclain-Williams, Ashley Plotts and their unborn child, during a vehicle crash on March 3, 2021 in Walhalla and last week’s stabbing death in Hamlin Township where Nicholas Blough is accused of killing Kenneth Schweitzer. 

Read related story here. 

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