I have heard and read various versions of the story of the kayak, the one purportedly used by Kristin Snyder to paddle out in Resurrection Bay and drown herself on the evening of February 6, 2003.
Snyder disappeared without a trace.
There are two distinct discrepancies concerning the kayak. One is whether it was seaworthy and the other concerns whether it was stolen from a shed.
The Alaska State Police report said, “On the morning of 2-8 -03 the Millers of Millers Landing resort discovered a storage shed containing kayak and gear had been broken into and an old kayak was missing. The storage shed was close to where Snyder’s vehicle was located.”
The Charley Project, which profiles “cold case” missing people, but does not actively investigate, reports, “A white wood and fiberglass kayak was found to be missing from the yard of Millers Landing when Snyder’s car was discovered. The kayak is handmade, has no rudder, is not outfitted for flotation, and had not been in the water for fifteen years. Officials at the resort noted that it would sink if tipped.”
Right here we have a discrepancy. The police reported it stolen from a shed. But the Charley Project, which got its information from somewhere, presumably from some police-related source, say the kayak was taken from the yard.
The police report says it was an old kayak.
The Charley Project goes further and states, “The kayak is handmade, has no rudder, is not outfitted for flotation, and had not been in the water for fifteen years. Officials at the resort noted that it would sink if tipped.”
Within a week of her disappearance, Heidi Clifford emailed friends and family of Kristin Snyder announcing Kristin’s memorial service. I obtained a copy of that email, dated February 13, 2003.
It is worth reading in full for it adds to our knowledge and is a contemporary document.
Heidi writes, “It is incredibly sad to announce that our friend Kris is presumed dead. Kris was reported missing the night of February 6, 2003. Over the next five days, an extensive search was conducted by the Anchorage Nordic Ski Patrol, Anchorage Police Department, Alaska State Troopers, U.S. Coast Guard, Seward Police Department, Civil Air Patrol, community volunteers and tons of friends.
“Her life in Alaska was rich and full of adventure. She was an avid kayaker, skate skier, biker and she was working on the telemark turns in the mountains. Kris enjoyed her volunteer work with the Anchorage Nordic ski patrol, performing in learning search and rescue skills, avalanche skills and wilderness emergency care. She was an active member of the women’s community. Kris had a large supportive network of ‘family’ and friends who will miss her warmth and energy.
What’s germane to our present discussion is that Heidi writes that the kayak was taken from a shed. And that it was old.
Kristin Keeffe was sent up to Alaska by Keith Raniere, ostensibly to help Nxivm with crisis management after the Snyder disappearance. The suicide note seems to blame Nxivm for her desire to commit suicide.
Keeffe has said she believes Snyder is still alive and faked her own death, possibly with the assistance of Heidi Clifford.
During my interviews with Clifford, she states she wishes it were true that Kristin Snyder was alive somewhere but highly doubts it. She also says she doubts the official version of events – Kristin stealing a kayak and killing herself – largely because, as she says in the film, The Lost Women of Nxivm, that the search was extensive and the body never found.
She completely denies having any role in helping Kristin fake her death.
Getting Back to the Kayak
Kristin Keeffe told me that the kayak was not seaworthy. Keeffe said it was not in the shed but in the yard.
It had not been used for years, Keeffe said, and had been utilized as a planter, with flowers and other plants put in it during the summer. Keeffe said the kayak had holes in it and could not float at all, let alone be used to paddle out to sea.
This supports Keeffe’s [and Nxivm’s] “faked-her-own-death” theory since a kayak with holes in it could not be paddled out at all.
The Millers are Interviewed
My final report on the kayak comes from Mike and Sherry Miller, owners of Millers Landing.
Mike and Sherry have lived on Resurrection Bay since the 1950s.
I interviewed the Millers on camera for Investigation Discovery. A part of that interview was seen in the film, The Lost Women of Nxivm.
As the original sources about the kayak, I trust what they told me over what various reports say.
My interview took place 16.5 years after the fact, but the recollections of Mike and Sherry Miller seemed so precise and confident that I rate them as highly reliable sources.
Mike Miller told me that there was no shed at the time the kayak went missing. He ought to know. He built the shed. He confidently said the shed – which he showed me and allowed me to enter – had not been built in 2003.
He said the missing kayak was out in the yard.
Mike explained the reason he noticed the kayak was missing was because there was no snow cover where the kayak had been laying. He would not have likely noticed a missing kayak, [They rent kayaks and have many of them] had snow not been broken by a patch of grass in the shape of a kayak.
This raises the question of how the shed became part of the story and in the police report. Did someone influence the writing of the report, adding a shed, and for what purpose?
It seems clear that Mike Miller is telling the truth and his memory is clear: the discovery of the missing kayak came by him seeing grass where snow was otherwise covering the ground.
Next, we come to various reports of the kayak’s seaworthiness.
In this, I believe, the Millers are the best source.
Mike was able to describe the kayak in great detail. He knew the previous owner, a woman who had given him the homemade kayak as a gift.
Sherry Miller knew it more intimately. It was her personal kayak.
Far from not being seaworthy, or that it had been out of the water for 15 years, Sherry said she used it the previous summer and for several summers before that. She constantly used it. That was her kayak.
She said further, and Mike agreed, that the kayak was absolutely seaworthy.
However, it did not have normal flotation.
Mike said that if it were tipped it would not sink. Neither would it be completely buoyant.
“It would periscope,” he said. Meaning that the end or tip would stick out above the water.
This suggested, and I know from my own helicopter flight above Resurrection Bay, that it might have been seen by searchers if the tip was out of the water.
From above, I could clearly see what was on the water – from ripples to a gull sitting on a log. I could make out the bird’s individual wings.
A periscope kayak would be visible. As would a paddle.
Of course, if someone wanted to, the kayak could be sunk with enough weight attached and this kayak would be easier to sink than others.
There are discrepancies about the kayak in the official report and in the account of the owners of it.
It was seaworthy – it was not seaworthy.
It was stolen from a shed. It was taken from out on the lawn.
Both Mike and Sherry Miller – who know the waters and were there at the time and saw the massive search – by land, sea, and air – don’t think Kristin Snyder committed suicide.
There were dozens of searchers. A Coast Guard cutter. Helicopters. Civil Air Patrol; police and firemen and dozens of Kristin’s friends, all trained in search and rescue, as fellow members of the Nordic Ski Patrol, all searching, combing every beach, every shed, every cabin, into the woods and flying and floating over the water in the bay – and finding nothing.
What We Know & What We Don’t Know
We know that Kristin Snyder was removed from a Nxivm intensive in Anchorage after proclaiming she was pregnant with Keith Raniere’s child.
We don’t know who removed Kristin’s truck from the parking lot next to the hotel where she was attending a 16-day Nxivm intensive.
We know her pickup truck was found 2.5 hours away in Seward Alaska, in front of Miller’s Landing, near the shore of Resurrection Bay.
We don’t know how it got there.
We know a “suicide note” was in the truck, along with a separate note that contained the words “No need to search for my body.”
We do not know for certain that Kristin wrote either note or if she did write them, whether she wrote them under duress or did so as part of Nxivm training exercise.
We know nothing was found, not her body, not her clothes, not the kayak nor the paddle.
We know Keith Raniere claimed he had people killed for his beliefs.