RANGELY | When officers entered the house at 134 Darius Avenue on the afternoon of July 3, they found the body of Jerry Snider Sr. on the floor in the living room.
He “appeared to have been dead for a period of time,” according to the arrest warrant.
Authorities estimate the 50-year-old Rangely man was killed “sometime between the night of July 2 and midday on the 3rd,” said Sgt. Roy Kinney, Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s investigator.
The man’s son – Jerry Snider Jr. – was taken into custody July 3 by a Clear Creek County Sheriff’s investigator after claiming “he was wanted in Rio Blanco County in connection with killing a man,” according to the arrest warrant.
However, at that point, Rio Blanco County authorities had no report of a murder.
“He said he was wanted in the questioning of a murder, but at the time no murder had been reported,” Kinney said.
Snider Jr., 29, is being held in the Rio Blanco County Detention Center and charged with first-degree murder in the death of his father.
“We’re still trying to figure out why,” sheriff’s investigator Kinney said of a motive in the case.
Martin Beeson, district attorney for the 9th Judicial District, has requested bond for Snider Jr. be set at $2 million.
Snider Jr.’s first appearance in district court is scheduled for Friday at the Rio Blanco County Courthouse.
At one point in his conversation with the Clear Creek County sheriff’s investigator on July 3, the arrest warrant states Snider Jr. made a comment, “something to the effect of, ‘I think I need my lawyer.'”
Detentions Lt. Deby Merriam, who oversees the county jail, said no special arrangements have been made for Snider Jr. He is being held in the RBC Detention Center along with the rest of the general jail population.
“I’m not big enough for that,” Merriam said of the county detention center. “He’s an inmate in the jail, and he’s being treated just like any other inmate in this jail. He’s acting appropriately for an inmate. If there was a problem, he would be locked down in one of the small cells, but he’s given us no reason to treat him any differently from any other pre-trial arrestee. ”
Merriam said Snider Jr. had previously spent time in the RBC Detention Center.
“He’s been in this jail before, so he knows how it works,” Merriam said, adding Snider Jr. spent time in the county jail in 2006 and 2003.
Merriam picked up Snider Jr. on Tuesday from Garfield County, where he had been transported from Clear Creek County.
District Attorney Beeson filed a motion to temporarily seal records in the case, saying “disclosure would be contrary to the public interest.” Snider Jr. has been appointed legal representation from the public defender’s office in Glenwood Springs.
According to the arrest warrant, Snider Jr. told a motorist on Interstate 70, who had given him a ride, “he needed to talk to the police because he had just killed a man.” The motorist drove the younger Snider to the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office in Georgetown.
Snider Jr. told the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s investigator he had abandoned his vehicle near Idaho Springs.
On Wednesday, Jerry LeBleu, owner of Professional Touch Auto Repair and Towing in Rangely, towed the elder Snider’s red 2001 Chevy pickup – apparently stolen by his son – from Georgetown back to Rio Blanco County, where it is impounded in Meeker.
After talking with Snider Jr. on July 3, the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s investigator called the Rangely Police Department and asked that an officer “conduct a welfare check on the residence of Jerry Snider Sr.”
Upon arrival, a Rangely police officer and a sheriff’s deputy “saw the body of a white male lying prone, face down on the floor of the living room. A large mass of dried and drying blood was pooled around the man’s head,” according to the arrest warrant.
Sheriff’s investigator Kinney described the scene as “pretty dramatic.” Asked if there was evidence of a struggle, Kinney said, “I can’t say.”
A search of the residence revealed what appeared to be bloodstains on a recliner and on the living room carpet. Authorities found a hatchet during a search of the elder Snider’s residence “with what appeared to be blood.”
According to the arrest warrant, Snider Sr. had suffered at least four head lacerations “consistent with injuries sustained from a heavy sharp object similar to a machete or hatchet.”
When officers arrived at the house, they found the front door locked. However, when they tried a door at the rear entrance to the house, “It appeared as if the door had been forced,” according to the arrest warrant.
Wes Torsell, who lived next door to Snider Sr., said he saw the elder Snider – who he said went by the nickname “Whip” – as well as his son on July 2, the day before authorities found Snider Sr.’s body in the living room of his house.
Torsell was out of town over the Fourth of July holiday weekend and didn’t find out about the elder Snider’s death until he returned to Rangely on July 5.
“A neighbor told us what happened,” Torsell said. “We didn’t really know the facts, just that he died.”
Members of Snider Sr.’s family were in town Thursday to retrieve some of his belonging from the house.
“I feel sorry for his family,” Torsell said. “They are pretty tore up. It’s a hard thing to deal with.”
Torsell said Snider Jr. had been living with his father and he would see him around the neighborhood, but he only met him once.
“We were barbecuing on our back porch and he came up and introduced himself. That was the only time I talked to him,” Torsell said. “When he moved in, I saw him pretty much every day. He’d been living with his dad a month or two. I’d see him outside smoking cigarettes, but I didn’t really know him. He seemed friendly. That’s why this is a big shock.”
Snider Jr. has had troubles with the law in the past, sheriff’s investigator Kinney said.
“He’s had an extensive history,” Kinney said. “But we didn’t even know he was in town. I think, locally, (a Rangely police officer) had had one contact with him, and I don’t even know when that was. I think that was more than a year ago, and I know the kid wasn’t arrested.”
Investigators are continuing to conduct interviews about the case.
“We have a few more names of people locally we’re trying to locate,” Kinney. “We have most of the family member interviews done, but there are two or three people down in the Paonia area we still want to talk to.”