A Pennsylvania woman has been sentenced to life in prison for deliberately helping torture and starve her girlfriend’s two young daughters.
Echo Butler, 27, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to commit first-degree murder of her girlfriend’s two young daughters in Lycoming County Court on Friday. Judge Nancy L. Butts sentenced Butler to two consecutive life terms in state prison without the possibility of parole.
On Oct. 3, Marie Snyder, the girls’ biological mother, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit criminal homicide, theft by deception, and food stamp fraud.
The girlfriends were accused of conspiring to kill the two young girls by purposely starving them to death. Snyder’s two daughters – 6-year-old Nicole and 4-year-old Jasmine – were also reportedly subjected to shocking physical abuse and torture.
According to court evidence, the two women forced the children to stand facing a wall with their hands tied behind their backs for hours, bashed the girls’ heads against walls, punched the girls in the head with closed fists, Jasmine was restrained in a car seat, Nicole was choked “until her eyes rolled back in her head,” forced them to take cold showers because they “didn’t deserve hot water,” and rubbed their faces in feces and urine if they had an accident.
During an interrogation, Snyder told investigators that Butler never liked the girls and wanted the children out of her house.
Snyder, 33, reportedly wrote a letter to Butler in December 2015 that read: “I’m sorry about these f***ing bitches.” The mother added, “If you want them gone, they’re gone.”
In court, Butler admitted to Judge Butts that she did not provide enough food to the girls.
Snyder testified in court that her daughter Nicole was not given any food or water in the two weeks before her death. The 6-year-old girl weighed just 10 pounds at the time of her death around May 10, 2016.
Snyder allegedly told police that days before her daughter’s death that Nicole became pale, couldn’t stand on her own, and her hair started to fall out. The Williamsport Sun-Gazette reported that Nicole’s ailments indicated a “purposeful kind of torture and intentional act of starvation which is what investigators determined is what led to their deaths.”
Jasmine weighed only five pounds when she died around Aug. 11, 2017.
Law & Crime reported, “Investigators said that Marie and Echo continued to collect benefits exceeding $2,000 from the Lycoming County Assistance Office and the Domestic Relations Office for up to five years after the kids were dead and buried in the yard.”
The girls’ father, Joshua Snyder, had not seen his daughters since 2015.
The investigation into the case started in September 2021 after a caseworker went to the trailer after receiving a tip about child abuse of Snyder’s third child. Jesse, who is now 9, was also being neglected. He is currently in foster care.
The bodies of Nicole Elisabeth Snyder and Jasmine Jean Snyder were found in a shallow grave behind the mobile home in Hepburn Township in November 2021.
District Attorney Ryan Gardner said the girls were “subjected to conditions beyond comprehension” and noted this is the “most horrific case I’ve ever experienced.”
“In all the years that I’ve been a practicing attorney, this is the most horrific case I’ve ever experienced,” Gardner said. “Two children subject to repeated intentional starvation and torture that results in their deaths is a tragedy of epic proportions. It’s tragic for the surviving family members and it’s tragic for the community in general.”
Gardner said, “Two precious souls were never provided a chance at life.”
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