One of our regular commenters, Anonymaker, has posted his thoughts about the disappearance of Kristin Snyder in various comments.
I thought it would be interesting to cull some of these and put them in one post, in order to continue our quest to discover what happened.
Was Snyder Murdered?
There are certainly questions about the case that deserve better answers, and reason to give some credence to those pointing to the possibility of Snyder having been murdered, even if opinions vary about the likelihood of that, but outright dismissal is absurd.
Is She Alive?
Keith Raniere’s investigators are reported to have said they had found Snyder, and there is supposed to be possible evidence including a photograph. That has only been mentioned briefly in passing, but for some reason we’ve never seen any of that case presented objectively.
It was convincing enough to leave Kristin Keeffe sure of it to this day.
As to the reported photo, yes we should see it. I don’t know why we haven’t, but you can’t necessarily read anything into that, or draw conclusions from it. You should know the fundamental principle, that the absence of evidence, is not the evidence of absence.
[Ed. Note: Keith claimed that a photo of Kristin Snyder and Heidi Clifford was taken at the Grand Canyon several months after Snyder’s disappearance. Barbara Bouchey and Kristin Keeffe both told me they saw the photograph but it was taken from such a distance that it was not possible to identify the women in the picture.
Heidi Clifford told me she did in fact go to the Grand Canyon with another woman who looked not unlike Kristin Snyder. She added that she had paid for the trip prior to Kris’ disappearance and decided to make the trip in memory of Kristin.]
Harbor Master Said All Missing Bodies Were Found
As I’ve noted previously, of the people from Seward washed out to sea in the wake of the 1964 earthquake, 100% vanished without any trace of them ever being found again. So if Snyder paddled the several miles out of Resurrection Bay into open waters, there is a reasonable likelihood that she and her equipment could indeed have disappeared entirely – though there can be some argument over how close to 100%, or least which side of 50%, the likelihood of that is.
You can’t compare the harbormaster’s accounting of what were probably accidental drownings that happened in the bay, to a case where someone may have paddled out into open sea in a deliberate attempt to commit suicide and not have their body found.
I’ve previously posted information from Alaska State Parks about kayak routes from Seward out to the Bay of Alaska – kayakers can definitely reach open water. Have you checked the moon phase for that night to be sure that there wouldn’t have been good conditions for nighttime navigation?
Anyway, it’s all pretty much apples-and-oranges, and speculation, unless we have one or more experienced, expert opinions relevant to kayaking out of Resurrection Bay.
[Ed. Note: One expert, who appears on the film, “The Lost Women of Nxivm” said he thought it was nearly impossible for no tarce of Kristin Snyder to be found, not even a paddle. He has been operating kayak tours – including regularly in winter – for something like 40 years. The harbor master, on the other hand, did relate a story about one of the found bodies, a suicide, who tied his body down with weights and using rope. His body was found because it floated upward and was spotted underwater. Had he chosen deeper water, his body likely would have been found, the harbor master said, because when they found his body, he was just a few days away from his skin sliding off and being released from the ropes. His sneakers slipped off and floated to shore, as I recall.]
Did Alaska National Guard Have Role in Kristin’s Disappearance?
The problem is there are at least two viable theories, and really two and a half or three if you include the variant that Snyder may have been murdered by someone other than the NXians. Given mutually incompatible theories, the raw probability of any particular one actually being true is relatively low.
And then there’s my fourth theory, which I’ll claim is as good as any other. Why have we never heard anything about Snyder’s mysterious work for the Alaska National Guard, who she listed as her employer?
Her job doing “environmental” work for the National Guard could both explain her psychotic symptoms, and why she disappeared.
She was actually employed doing some sort of unexplained, exotic work for the military, and none one has even thought to raise questions about that so far, in spite of the fact that it points to the sort of parties who would actually have the means, motive, opportunity, and known track record of making people vanish off the face of the earth – which shows just how superficial and sloppy the process (if it can even be called that) going on here is.
There’s a whole other conspiracy theory possible there, that may be just as plausible as the others, if not more so. I’m just not sure if I want to go down that rabbit hole.
I don’t see anything about footprints around Snyder’s truck when reviewing the official reports that have been posted online; and it’s highly unlikely that there was obvious evidence of two people getting out of the truck that was just overlooked, though that may not be clear from whatever reporting or rumors have come down to us.
As for Cowell, doing a fact-check of what we actually know, turns up this account in the police report:
“Cowell said a bunch of them were there in a group and she believed Snyder left to attend a performance at the Performing Arts Center (PAC).”
We don’t know whether Cowell was lying, just repeating in good faith a lie she had been told, or possibly even recounting an honest misunderstanding (such as if she had misheard what had been said about where Synder was going, for instance confusing “PAC” for “back,” the sort of thing that also happens all the time in real life.
I think she was more just a dupe and minion, who was gotten out of Anchorage at the point that NXIVM was having a lot of problems with bad publicity, not the least of it multiple cases of participants and members suffering mental problems or breakdowns.
NXIVM may just not have trusted her not to spill damning details of the negligence that lead up to Snyder’s disappearance, and moved her where she could be kept under close watch, though I will certainly concede that nothing conclusive can be said about her role until we know more; plus there’s also the possibility that she knew about drugging gone wrong that could have further contributed to Snyder suiciding..
I think she’s enough of a Kool-Aid drinker that she believes NXIVM’s ginned-up, self-serving conspiracy theory about Snyder’s disappearance.
She gave the gun in her house to someone for safekeeping, which is a standard step when someone is suicidal, and then when Snyder went missing, reported her to the authorities as “suicidal” according to the official record.
In her most recent interview with Frank, she said “I just went forward into the police department as a suicide, like we all at that time believe[d], because of what happened.”
According to a 2017 piece by Frank, recounted in part more recently, “According to Miss Clifford, Miss Snyder lay in snow in an attempt at killing herself.”
Clifford, who was in a position to know better than anyone, believes that Snyder simply acted on the suicidal ideations she had been expressing. The armchair knowitallism which completely discounts that, really ends up being disrespectful to people involved and actually impacted by the tragedy, as exemplified at its worst by the basement-dwellers who harassed the survivors of Sandy Hook victims based on their irrational beliefs stemming from taking internet conspiracy theorizing too seriously.
I think Kim has had her chain yanked here, in ways that are probably not good for her. Clearly she’s not used to such an uncivil environment, and truly upset by commenters like Dirt.
My guess is that Kristin wrote the main page while sitting in one or more places, perhaps just really well propped up in her truck, and then dashed off the second suicide note [“no need to look for my body”] at the last minute, maybe even after she’d gotten out of the truck, which accounts for some differences.
Murdered By Drug Dealers?
There’s also no reason to dismiss out of hand the possibility of her having been murdered by someone besides the NXians just because “she was spending all of her time at the convention.”
Plenty of people get killed as the culmination of disputes or involvements that have been going on for extended periods of time, or even just randomly. NXIVM’s conspiracy theory is that she disappeared because drug dealers were after her, but if there’s any truth to that then it’s possible they could have killed her, and her being in a convention at the time would have been completely irrelevant.
NXIVM was in the midst of a virtual outbreak of participants having severe psychological problems, and their pending name change was likely part of the damage control – though ultimately the bad PR would still virtually put an end to the most prestigious part of their business, the corporate and government recruiting.
They would likely have been desperate to completely sweep Snyder’s case under the rug, not to do something that specifically fingered them in a dramatic and even gruesome mental breakdown spelled out in tabloid headline terms.
As a reminder of what they were facing:
Cult of Personality
Forbes, Oct 13, 2003
” After sleepless nights and 17-hour days of workshops, a 28-year-old woman from a prominent Mexican family says she began to have hallucinations and had a mental breakdown at her hotel near Albany. She went to a hospital and required psychiatric treatment.
Halfmoon — Controversial company’s latest proposal still seeks to build headquarters, offices on town site
Times Union/December 21, 2003
“The 5-year-old company earns $4 million annually, according to an October article in Forbes magazine.
Mental health professionals who have seen NXIVM’s confidential manual and treated former students liken NXIVM to a cult. One of those professionals is Carlos Rueda, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Our Lady of Mercy Hospital in the Bronx. He also serves as an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College in Valhalla, Westchester County.”
An Espian’s brief life
Once a dynamic overachiever, a woman’s world deteriorated after she took classes offered by a Halfmoon-based group.
Times Union/February 1, 2004
“Carlos Rueda, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Our Lady of Mercy Hospital in New York City, has said he treated three NXIVM students for psychological disorders related to NXIVM courses. One, a 28-year-old Manhattan woman from a prominent Mexico City family, experienced a psychotic episode in NXIVM’s New Karner Road facility and required hospitalization in January 2003, a month before Kristin Snyder’s disappearance, according to Rueda and Albany Police records.”
I’ve actually witnessed a woman paddle a small craft out and capsize it in a suicide attempt, though that may have been more of the sort of dramatic gesture despondent people are prone to rather than a truly serious attempt to kill themselves.
And I knew a woman who traveled hours to the city where a former boyfriend lived, to shoot herself through the heart on his doorstep, speaking of dramatic gestures.
Psychotics in particular seem prone to unbelievably strange, and sometimes elaborately planned, suicides:
Some forms of self-annihilation are elaborate and richly planned.
“I collect files on certain types of suicide, especially those involving saws. To me, the rehearsal images that must accompany such plans have to be pretty gruesome.”
[I am going to spare readers citations of case histories, which can be found below]
Here’s an example of relatively elaborate and deliberate drowning:
Friends of an Enigmatic Artist See a Riddle in His Death
“The body of the 67-year-old artist was found floating 50 feet offshore on Jan. 14, an apparent suicide by drowning. But the reasons he might have killed himself elude both the police and his friends and fans. Although some tantalizing clues emerged after his death, he had told no one of his plans to make the 50-mile drive from his home in Locust Valley to Sag Harbor, where, on the evening of Jan. 13, he jumped from a highway bridge over Sag Harbor Cove and was last seen backstroking into the distance, the police say.”
And a couple of cases involving kayaks:
Autopsy: Missing kayaker shot himself
“Douglas Winter, the Lake Superior kayaker whose body was found washed ashore Nov. 5 just north of Two Harbors, committed suicide, his death certificate states.”
Kayaker tied large rock to ankles to drown herself, officials say
” A 24-year-old kayaker who vanished during a family camping trip in Georgia had tied a rock to her ankles with an extension cord in an apparent intentional drowning, police said on Monday. Maranda Whitten’s body was located in Point Lake Monday morning, three days after she was last seen in a teal-colored kayak.”
Finally, here’s one that I think readers may just find curious:
It was apparently a copycat of a “CSI Las Vegas” show, presumably by someone who wanted to die but did not want to have his reputation tarnished by suicide.