Edwin Snelgrove Jr.
Seeing as I read so many true crime stories as well as try to see every investigative show I can on subjects of true crime it is not often that I come across a case in which supposedly was so notorious and yet it was one in which I had never heard of. This was the case of the Edwin Snelgrove Jr. case when I read the book "I'll be Watching You" by M. William Phelps. There are many cases that I have seen so many different episodes of things that I am so overly tired of hearing them. Most of those cases I have not even brought myself to blog about just because it seemed every time you turned around there was another new show that had to do an episode on a case, but not this one.
Edwin Snelgrove Jr. may have ended up simply being one of those killers you never hear about. He killed an ex-girlfriend and got away with it, although he was a suspect apparently early on, for nearly five years until he was caught for attacking another woman and he confessed to the earlier murder in his plea agreement. He would have become just one more killer who served time in jail. Except that is not how Edwin's, known as Ned, story ended. His story ended up being one of how the justice system let a killer go free despite evidence that he would likely kill again and then did not keep adequate tabs on him, giving him just that chance. Of course one could argue that Ned's first murder occurred in 1983, long before DNA was available and that had he continued to murder the advances in science would have caught up with him eventually. It is not like he was the most careful killer out there when it came to leaving not just evidence, but witnesses to boot. One of the funny things about Ned was that while he was serving his first sentence he wrote letters to an old school friend indicating that serial killer Ted Bundy was his idol but pointed out many of Ted's mistakes and swore he would not make the same. Then he did exactly that.
On Christmas Eve 1983 Karen Osman failed to show up at her parents' home for Christmas dinner and after attempts to reach her they filed a missing person's report. The following day her body was found inside her New Jersey apartment. Her upper body was exposed and she had been stabbed several times in the chest. Karen had gone to a party with college classmates on the 23rd and apparently had left the party late. An investigation was made into the party guests but they were not getting very far. Edwin had also attended the party, and he had a past with Karen. They had dated at one time and while her family found him odd and suspected him rather quickly of being involved. Karen had not been sexually assaulted so there was no evidence to be found there and while they looked into Edwin and suspected he were involved, they had nothing to conclusively prove anything, therefore could not charge him.
Then in August of 1988 Edwin was at a bar when he met Mary Ellen Renard. They talked quite a bit at the bar and walked out together. When Mary Ellen got to her car it would not start so Edwin seemingly helped her get it started and offered to follow her home to make sure her car did not break down on the way. When they arrived at Mary Ellen's apartment he asked if it would be ok if he went inside and used the bathroom. The building Mary Ellen lived in had a locked front door that could only be opened (inside or out) with a key and once inside Mary Ellen's landlord lived in a downstairs apartment while she lived upstairs. Once they got upstairs Edwin went to use the bathroom as he had asked. Mary Ellen later stated that up to this point she was not worried by Edwin's behavior and he seemed like a nice guy but that when he came out of the bathroom he had a completely different look to him. It was at this point that Edwin started viciously began attacking her. By the time it was over Mary Ellen somehow had survived after being stabbed several times and despite the locked front door Edwin had escaped. The attack had made it to the lower level just outside the door of her landlord who simply called the police. Edwin managed to get back upstairs, and believing Mary Ellen was dead, or close to it escaped through an upstairs window. Although she did suffer immensely and her life was in the balance for a while Mary Ellen was able to describe to the police who it was that had attacked her. He had told her that his name was Ned and that he worked for Hewitt Packard. It was not long before Edwin was apprehended.
It was while he was in jail awaiting trial for the attack on Mary Ellen that the old stories of Karen Osmun's murder emerged. It seems that if Edwin was going to go down for a crime, he felt he may as well go big and he was able to muster a plea deal to which he received a 20 year sentence for both the attack on Mary Ellen, as well as the murder of Karen Osmun. For the most part Mary Ellen and also Karen's family were relieved that he was in jail and could not harm anyone else.
Edwin's time in jail was not necessarily uneventful. I wrote several letters while he was there. Most were to a childhood friend George Recck but at least one was to a judge in his case. In the one to the judge Edwin talked a lot about having sexual desire at a young age and his struggle to control those desires. He also wrote many letters to Recck in which he expressed his almost idolization of Ted Bundy and how he could, should, and indicated would, do things differently. These things were known when he was up for his first parole hearing and when the prosecutor was informed he wrote letters to the board. Apparently Edwin heard of them and dropped his bid for parole without a hearing. Then after serving just ten years and eleven months of his sentence without fair warning to victims, or even the local prosecutor Edwin Snelgrove Jr. was released from the New Jersey state corrections facility in 1999. The prosecutor would later say that he was given a two day notice of Edwin's release that was mandated by good time credits and that he had no time to make any preparations or petition for anything. He stated that had he been given proper notice he could have petitioned the courts for an involuntary stay at an institution as it was apparent to him that while Edwin may have legally served his time in prison he remained a danger to society.
Apparently there seemed to be little to no parole supervision upon his release it seems as nothing I have found indicated that he was on any sort of probation or have a parole officer that he check in with. When Edwin left prison he left New Jersey for good and moved in with his parents in Connecticut. It was there that he remained over the course of the next several years. He procured a job as a "traveling salesman" but maintained his home with his parents in their basement. He also became a regular at a bar named Kenny's. This was good for Edwin since he had no past there and the only people who knew about his stint in prison was his family. It was here at Kenny's that he apparently became friendly with a woman named Carmen Rodriquez. Carmen had had some rough times over the years between marriages and having children but she had also had issues with drugs and alcohol. By 2001 she was living in a home near Kenny's with her boyfriend and her children. Her mother and siblings were always nearby. On the night of September 21, 2001 Edwin was already at Kenny's when Carmen showed up. According to patrons and employee's Edwin and Carmen spent the rest of the evening together, seeming rather cozy and friendly with each other, and left the bar together. Carmen did not return home that night and was never seen from again. Because of her less than stellar past the police did not seem as diligent to look for her as her family did, but they did soon learn just who Carmen had last been seen with. The authorities went to Edwin's home and interviewed him but nothing much came of it. Patron's and employee's of Kenny's were on the lookout for him too and he managed to avoid going there. He did call Kenny's and talk to the bartender several days after Carmen disappeared seemingly just to get information on the investigation. He told the bartender that he had offered Carmen a ride home and that when they had an argument over her asking him for money he had simply dropped her off at a gas station nearby. He also stated to the bartender that he had been in Rhode Island since that time attempting to explain his absence from the bar. This story did not ring true to Carmen's family or to investigators. First, Carmen lived just around the corner from the bar and had never had issue in walking home before, but even still, if Edwin was simply giving her a ride home, his description of where he left her was in the opposite direction. Things just were not adding up and investigators knew it but there was little they could do, especially since they had yet to find Carmen, dead or alive. Several weeks later Edwin finally did go back to Kenny's and when he did an employee called Carmen's family who went over to confront him. He told them the same story but seemingly talked about Carmen in third person saying to her daughter "Oh she was your mother?" and commenting to Carmen's boyfriend that "it was too late."
Then on January 6, 2002 a man who lived just over the border of Connecticut in Rhode Island found a large trash bag on the edge of wooded area of his land. Inside the bag was the decomposed body of a woman who was hog tied and then placed in eleven trash bags that were tied and stapled together. Police departments in surrounding counties were notified of the find but it still took a while to to identify the body. It was finally identified through a tattoo and it was found to be Carmen Rodriquez. Once again Edwin Snelgrove was in their sights as a suspect but still there was little they had to tie him to a murder as they could not prove that he had not simply dropped Carmen off as he said he had. Investigators became frustrated. They knew Edwin was their man and they feared, or knew in their hearts that women in the area, or near him were at risk and yet they had nothing concrete on him. Then a woman identified Edwin as a man she had met at a bar some time back who had attempted to assault her as he tried to get her to get into his car. It was not much but it was enough to arrest him and hold him while they continued the investigation into Carmen's murder.
On October 17, 2001 Edwin attempted to commit suicide by taking some pills and other things. He left a suicide note to his parents saying that the police were looking into him in the disappearance of Carmen. Of course he admitted nothing in the letter. Then finally the police were able to secure a search warrant for his home and the investigation started to take off. He was ultimately charged with Carmen's murder in October 2003, two years after she disappeared. In the mean time he had been acquitted on the assault charges that had initially gotten him into jail and the community safe.
His trial was commenced in April of 2005 in Connecticut after it was determined or at least theorized that was the state in which Carmen was murdered. Prosecutors were able to prove that while Edwin had been meticulous about his mileage and gas records for his job that on the days of September 21st through the 23rd of 2001 things did not add up. Experts testified that they compared his gas mileage and records to other periods throughout time and if the dates of the 21-23rd were to be believed than he had put more gas in his car than his car would have held compared to the miles in which he actually drove. They were able to determine that to use the amount of gas Edwin said he used he would have had to have driven an extra 160 miles than what he stated he had. This 160 miles added up almost completely to what it would have taken to drive to the Rhode Island site where Carmen's body was found and back. Prosecutors were also able to use his prior convictions in New Jersey as well as letters he had written to the judge and his friend when he was incarcerated. Ultimately he was found guilty and on April 15, 2005 he was given a life sentence (which in Connecticut amounts to 60 years). He appealed his sentence, mainly arguing that his prior convictions and conduct in prison should not have been entered in this case. The courts disagreed and in 2008 upheld his conviction. He is not eligible for parole until October of 2063 when he will be 103 years old.