Murder/arson case bound over to circuit court. 

July 25, 2022

Hope Snyder sits in court.

Murder/arson case bound over to circuit court. 

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — Today, in Mason County’s 79th District Court, Judge John Middlebrook bound over a murder/arson case to circuit court, where the case could end up in trial. 

Prosecutor Lauren Kreinbrink, left, Det. Mike Kenny, center, and defense attorney Tracie Dinehart look over digital records.

A preliminary examination was held Monday, July 25, 2022 in Mason County’s 79th District Court, in the case against Hope Lynn Snyder, a 41-year-old woman accused of killing Jeffrey Grant, 57, along with his two dogs, and burning down his residence at 3746 N. Morse Road on Nov. 22, 2021. A preliminary examination is a hearing to determine if there is probable cause to bind the case over to circuit court; a preliminary examination is not a trial nor does it determine innocence or guilt. 

Snyder stood mute, as a result, Judge John Middlebrook entered a plea of not guilty on her behalf.

Snyder, whose last known residence was 81 Kincheloe Drive, Kincheloe, Chippewa County faces 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.

Snyder also pleaded guilty on Feb. 1, 2022 of unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle on Nov. 22, 2021. She has not been sentenced for that crime yet.  

Det. Mike Kenney testifies

The hearing began at 9 a.m., broke for lunch for an hour and the prosecution rested at 4 p.m. Defense attorney Tracie Dinehart did not have any witnesses for the preliminary exam.

Prosecution witnesses included Mason County Sheriff’s Office Det. Sgt. Tom Posma, Det. Mike Kenney, and Dep. Adam Claveau, Fountain Area Fire Dept. Assistant Fire Chief Barry Ruger and Sgt. Joseph Allen of the Michigan State Police Fire Investigation Unit. 

Posma testified that Grant had driven Snyder to Mackinaw County on Nov. 19, 2021 where she was to appear in court for a probation violation. After the fire, Snyder stole Grant’s Chevrolet Avalanche (which was registered to Victor Adamczak of Fountain) and abandoned the vehicle in a hospital parking lot in Saginaw. Later, Snyder took a flight from MBS International Airport in Saginaw to Detroit Metropolitan Airport where she had then booked a flight to Alaska. 

Mason County sheriff’s detectives were able to obtain a search warrant of Snyder’s phone and find her location. While en-route to Detroit airport, Posma and Kenney reached out to airport police who then restrained Snyder. Posma and Kenney then conducted their first interview with Snyder at the airport and arrested her. 

Mason County Sheriff Det. Sgt. Tom Posma.

Kenney obtained several warrants for digital files owned by Snyder, including items from her Facebook account and Google Gmail account. During testimony Kenney read several messages between Snyder and Jacob Snyder, along with messages between Snyder and Lawn Schroeder, who, according to a Facebook account, lives in Anchorage, Alaska. 

The Facebook messages were written on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22, the majority prior to the fire on Morse Road, which was reported at 9:06 a.m.

In various messages, Snyder refers to Grant providing her with drugs. She discusses a plan, that she describes as “crazy and heartless” to obtain drugs, a house, a truck and money. 

When asked by Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Lauren Kreinbrink if Kenney could paint a picture he answered: “That Hope Snyder was looking to get Mr. Grant’s dope and she was coming up with a way to get some money from Mr. Grant, contemplating taking his vehicle and somehow taking his money and dope.” 

Snyder discussed, in the messages, that Grant was passed out or sleeping. She made reference to switching drugs with him because she believed he was attempting to drug her. As a result, he then passed out or fell asleep. 

In one of the Facebook messages, Snyder stated: “But now I’m sitting here confused on what I should do now. Let the place burn and leave in the truck or pillow him…” 

She also stated that she had no patience for Grant. 

Fountain Area Fire Dept. Assistant Fire Chief Barry Ruger discusses where fire suppression operations took place in Grant’s house.

“I know I’ll just turn the gas on, the stove on, and just leave it that way. I’m not playing God. He has a fair shot of waking up.” 

Later that morning, Snyder wrote a message to Jacob Snyder indicating that she was deleting her Facebook account and was making a new one. 

“I’m freaking the (F*$%) out right now and don’t even know what to say.” 

In cross-examination, defense attorney Dinehart asked Det. Kenney if, at any time, Snyder used the phrase she was going to kill Jeff Grant. Kenney said that Snyder never used those specific words. 

Kenney also testified that he had recovered several videos from Snyder’s phone including one that showed Grant sleeping, his keys and then his video security monitor that showed the Chevy Avalanche truck in the driveway. 

Sgt. Joseph Allen of the Michigan State Police Fire Investigation Unit also testified. Allen conducted the investigation to determine the cause of the fire. Allen said a special fire investigation K-9 (dog) unit was also on scene on Nov. 22 and also when he returned to investigate further on Nov. 23. 

Allen said he concluded that the fire originated in a closet located under the stairs on the first floor that lead to the second floor of the house. He said that an electrical engineer was hired to determine if the source of the fire was electrical. Allen said the electrical engineer ruled out that the cause of the fire was electrical. Allen said that he believed the ignition source was either consumed or removed by vapors and that he believed, based on the information provided to him by the Mason County Sheriff’s Office detectives was that the fire was intentionally set. He described the fire origin as incendiary using an alcohol-based gel to ignite it. 

“It was an incendiary fire, meaning the suspect used a competent fire source to light a fire under the steps in the house,” Sgt. Allen said. 

The case will now appear in front of the 51st Circuit Court. 

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