LYCOMING COUNTY, Pa. — Two people now face homicide charges for the deaths of two young girls in Lycoming County, and a third is charged with third-degree murder.
Marie Snyder and Echo Butler were both charged with homicide for the deaths of Marie's young daughters. In addition, Echo's mother Michele was charged with third-degree murder.
Marie Snyder and Echo Butler said nothing to reporters as they left district court Friday morning. The two previously faced child endangerment and obstruction charges, but homicide has now been added to that list.
Lycoming County District Attorney Ryan Gardner did not hold back when talking about what he calls the worst case he has seen.
"The death penalty will be pursued against Marie Snyder and Echo Butler," Gardner said. "Prior to their death, (they) lived in and were subjected to conditions beyond comprehension."
According to police, the couple starved and physically abused Marie's young daughters. Nicole, age 6, and Jasmine, age 4, were forced to stand in corners for hours at a time. The girls were also tied up at times and forced to take cold showers.
When the children died, Marie and Echo buried them in their backyard on Livermore Road in Hepburn Township.
According to court paperwork, Nicole died in 2016 and Jasmine in 2017, both of starvation. Investigators say the children were only allowed small amounts of food and water while the others enjoyed different and better food.
According to court papers, Marie Snyder wrote letters to Echo Butler. One of the letters said, "If you want them gone, they're gone." Another read, "I started to correct them, and it went very wrong. I lost one of my babies."
Echo Butler told authorities that she hated the children because they were bad.
According to police, Children and Youth Services started investigating in September after receiving reports that Marie Snyder's 7-year-old son was not receiving proper education. At that time, Children and Youth also asked about Snyder's daughters. That's when a search warrant was issued, leading to the children's bodies in the backyard.
The district attorney says the case is still under investigation and would not say if anyone else will be charged in the case.
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