Coroner: Charles Snelling Committed Suicide

Charles Snelling died of a gunshot wound, but the cause of his wife's death is pending investigation, according to Lehigh County Chief Deputy Coroner Paul Hoffman.


, well-known political activist and businessman, died from a gunshot wound. The Lehigh County Coroner’s Office ruled it a suicide.

The cause and manner of death for Snelling’s wife, Adrienne, is pending further investigation.

The brief press release from the coroner's office (attached) gave no more specific details. The couple, both 81, were found dead in their home at 1280 Church St., Fogelsville, on Thursday morning.

Adrienne suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

In a statement to local media Thursday, family members said Charles Snelling "could no longer bear to see the love of his life deteriorate further," choosing to end her life and then his own.

Charles Snelling was board chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority since 2003. President George W. Bush nominated him to serve on the authority board of directors. And he was a longtime Republican activist in the Lehigh Valley.

The Snellings are survived by five children and 11 grandchildren.

Carmella Obst March 30, 2012 at 06:41 PM
My feeling is that you can never judge if person if you are not walking in his/her shoes. Obviously, the situation with his wife took a toll on him.. Only the person himself knows what he was going through. No one can truly understand the despair he was feeling. It was an act of desperation---so let's be kind and not have negative statements impact their children and grandchildren----they are going through enough heartbreak now.
Concerned March 30, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Judge not lest you be judged comes to mind here.
aneighbor March 30, 2012 at 07:36 PM
We don't know what Mr. Snelling's mental state was at this time. The family has responded publicly in a gracious, loving and understanding manner.
gruntled March 30, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Oh my, Linda and William are so judgemental! What makes a person with no compassion, no idea of empathy? I am a Republican, yet most always disagreed with Snelling...or his tactics. Still, I wasn't inside his head and am not qualified to judge him. Neither are Linda and William.
Mary Anne Looby March 30, 2012 at 08:34 PM
I cannot believe the insensitivity of the people who post on here.
J. Drew Stefancin March 30, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Despicable, aren't they?
Carmen March 30, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Alzheimers is a devastating disease to the victim and the family-the people who are judging here should volunteer at a nursing home to see what becomes of a person afflicted with the disease. It is not always "Oh Aunt Bessie is forgetful" it affects mind and body and it is not pretty. I am not condoning what Mr. Snelling did but go spend some time in a nursing home before you pass judgement on why he did what he did.
Patricia E. March 30, 2012 at 11:50 PM
He obviously loved his wife very much and what he did , right or wrong, was done out of love. Personally I feel sorry for all they went through. I hope to someday find someone who loves me as much as Charles loved Adrienne.
charlene March 31, 2012 at 12:05 AM
One does not know,what"THERE"FUTURE holds!
Pamela Porter March 31, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Don: Just so you know - I flagged your reprehensible post as inappropriate. You are a despicable waste of flesh.
Susan Brown March 31, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Rest in Peace. Alzheimers is a terrible disease both for the victim, the caregivers and the family.
Amend March 31, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Wow. There are some seriously messed up people on this thread.
Paul Mulhern March 31, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Pamela Porter thank you for flagging Don, he has got to be the weakest man I have seen. To judge another without going thru what that person did. I have been to nursing homes and hope I never have to be in one. I would not put my wife in a home either!
Paul Mulhern March 31, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Amy Von Holden, I hope you do not have to go thru what he did, but if you do, you will deserve it.
Daryl Nerl (Editor) March 31, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Your comment reflects ignorance. The fact is the Snellings were married for 61 years. In the last six, Charles cared for Adrienne as she deteriorated. Here's a link in his own words: http://brooks.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/07/the-life-report-charles-darwin-snelling/ The lack of compassion in these comments is staggering to me.
Susan Mulhern March 31, 2012 at 03:02 AM
oh paulie
J. Drew Stefancin March 31, 2012 at 12:03 PM
I'm certain that these nasty comments are some kind of prank. Because no one could actually believe these things, right? And be so blind as to express them publicly. .....right?
Elsa March 31, 2012 at 12:19 PM
And we wonder where the children learn "it is all about me". All of you lost sight. No individual is allowed to take justice into their own hands. I liked the Snellings- I don't like what happened. I am sure their family doesn't either. It is not personal it is the law and when we make exception based on "our feelings" we open the door to chaos because not all feelings are sane.
Linda March 31, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I am saddened that people that consider themselves religious and invoke the name of God can be so self-righteous and so lacking in compassion. I would rather be dead than to suffer with Alzheimers with no memory or knowledge of those around me, unable to dress or feed myself. I hope that someone can have the mercy and compassion to ease me on my way if that happens. For Don and his pals, I hope they find someone willing to change their drool bucket, and to look after them at home, as they probably don't think we need health care, either. Do you know that Medicare doesn't cover nursing care for this? Look it up.
J. Drew Stefancin March 31, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Like bullies, malcontents and other overly aggressive, out-of-line weirdos I think people who feel this way (or at least claim to.. no one could ACTUALLY feel that way) just need to be ignored. People like me who engage them in debate automatically lose by responding to their outrageous opinions.
Anna Banana March 31, 2012 at 02:32 PM
As an Alzheimers caretaker (retired) on hearing of this, the feedback is soul wrenching. As one of 6 siblings, and the one living onsite w/ affected parents, every second is a year, every decision a crap shoot. When I wrote to my Dad's friends that " John (my Father) wasn't here any more", they thought he was dead, and found out later still breathing, but furious w/me. Still rethinking decisions I made, suffering I witnessed, while others stayed away. The triumphs were few, the love overwhelming, and the " is is ever going to come" ending only a beginning of new questions about meaning of anyone's journey here. Old soldiers never die, they just fade away, are lyrics from a WWII song, which I just comprehend.
Jennifer Moyer March 31, 2012 at 08:59 PM
My wife had a cat she loved so much that she could not come to terms with killing the cat. I watched the cat die a prolonged and obviously painful death over the course of weeks. Later my wife said she made a mistake and would not have been so cruel to the cat if she realized the agony she was putting the cat through. Of course, there is no comparison to any person living or dead in my very true story.
J. Drew Stefancin April 01, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Dean Bear..... that opinion is borderline psychotic.
Jan McNair April 01, 2012 at 08:07 PM
I don’t usually comment on a news story, but after reading the opinions here, I feel moved to do so. I have walked through the agony of Alzheimer’s disease with my father (the victim) and my mother (the victim’s spouse). I can attest to the mind-robbing cruelty of this disease and the devastating effects it has on both the victims and the family of the stricken. My mother (in her 80s) cared for my father in their home up until the final three months of his life, when it became necessary to place him in a care facility. My father had became a danger to both my mother and himself. The institutionalization of our loved one had heart-wrenching emotional effects on both my mother and me, as my dad had been a loving, good, and kind husband and father all his life. He was 86 when he died and had celebrated 64 years of happy marriage with my mother. Neither she nor I would have ever taken his life and called it an “an act of mercy.” We are Christians who believe that only God has the right to decide when it is our time to die. Finally (whether you are a Christian or non-Christian), which doctor or family member has the knowledge and moral right to determine when a person is old enough or sick enough to be killed? Why not mercifully kill a person who has Stage 3 cancer? Or who can no longer walk or eat whole foods? How about a person who is blind or one who is a quadriplegic? Who will be that human judge? Who will judge when you are sick enough to warrant being killed?


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