A report from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department brings new details to light in the case of a Green Valley man charged with first degree murder in the death of his wife.
Ronald Carpenter, 83, was booked into the Pima County Adult Detention Complex on Sept. 1, after the body of his wife, 82-year-old Mollie Snyder, was found off Whitehouse Canyon Road near the Santa Rita Experimental Range.
According to the report, Carpenter reported Snyder missing Aug. 30, conveying to police that she had been missing since Aug. 25.
On Aug. 31, Snyder’s family contacted OnStar — an in-vehicle communications device — which pinpointed the location of her car to be about a half-mile from the Santa Rita Experimental Range off of Florida Canyon Road in Green Valley.
Search and Rescue Units conducted a search for the victim and later located a body wrapped in a blanket and other bed linens on a downgrade leading to a wash, just south of Whitehouse Canyon Road and a little farther from where the vehicle was located, according to the report.
A short drone flight was conducted just before 1 p.m. Sept. 1, before bad weather moved in, that captured images of the roadway, ravine and creek near where the body was found, overall photos of the body, and the “drag marks and the path the body took down to the final location,” which was about 31 feet from the edge of the road.
According to the report, the body “appeared to have been pushed off the road and it rolled until it got caught on a small tree just a few feet from the wash.”
As they peeled back layers of linen, detectives noted it appeared as if the body were “placed on top of a bed that was made, and then wrapped around the linen” with duct tape and a sort of filament tape wrapping it together. The first layer of linen appeared to be a bed comforter, or decorative blanket, followed by two sheets (one fitted), and a mattress cover, according to the report.
Detectives noted that the victim’s hands and ankles were bound with a cloth-like material, and a green bungee cord was wrapped around her neck. She had trauma to her face and left arm, and a large concentration of what appeared to be blood around her head, according to the report.
Detectives also collected several items found with the body, which included a makeup bag, a wallet with cards and a Social Security card for Mollie Snyder, clothing, money and pillows.
Later on the evening of Sept. 1, Carpenter was arrested at his home on North Calle Del Diablo in Green Valley before forensic technicians executed a search warrant there.
According to the responding officer, when Pima County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the house, Carpenter “came to the door and did not say a word” before being physically restrained and handed off to other deputies.
The officer that transported Carpenter to the Pima County Adult Detention Center said the only conversation he had with him was Carpenter asking “something along the lines of if we were en route to Phoenix; I informed him no, we were en route to Pima County Adult Detention Center.”
After clearing the house, officers searched several rooms and observed the following:
A few firearms in the master bedroom.
Bedsheets in the master bedroom “appeared to be new because they were still wrinkled as if they had just been removed from the packaging they came in.” Detectives also noted the fitted bed sheet was inside out on the mattress.
Officers collected samples from what appeared to be blood spatter on the hutch in the living room, the kitchen table cloth facing the kitchen, the wall next to the hutch, the wall behind the bed, a flashlight and a pair of tan shorts found in the trash can.
Using BlueStar Luminol, which is a presumptive test to locate blood using chemical luminescence, officers located blood in the dining room, in the hallway near the front door, and in the master bedroom. Detectives also used the Bluestar test in Carpenter’s truck, which reacted with some areas of the seats.
Detectives also collected samples from a pair of tan boots in the master bedroom closet that had dry mud on them, as well as red stains.
Detectives found a bungee cord on the floor of the back yard similar to the bungee cord found around the victim’s neck.
A tire tube was found in an in-ground trash can near the driveway and collected as evidence since detectives suspected that “Mr. Carpenter rode his bicycle down the mountain and the bicycle tire had recently been repaired.”
On Sept. 2, Pima County Sheriff’s deputies continued the investigation by canvassing more than 80 homes in the Green Valley area, near where the incident occured.
Officers were particularly interested in knowing if neighbors had any exterior cameras or had seen a male subject on a bicycle, a silver Cadillac SUV or a red GMC truck within the past week. Most residents were unable to provide additional information related to the case.
One resident who lived near Carpenter said they had heard Carpenter, who they described as “boisterous,” yelling at Snyder, who they described as “very soft-spoken,” on occasion, but could not provide specific information about the nature of the argument.
As of Tuesday, Carpenter remains in custody at the Pima County Adult Detention Center, where he is being held on a bond of $750,000.
On Sept. 13, the state filed to pursue the charge of First Degree Murder.
His attorneys, Beth Anderson and LeeAndra Smith of the Pima County Public Defender’s Office, have entered a not guilty plea, and are set to hold a Case Management Conference on Oct. 25, according to court documents.