Jennifer L. Snyder was forever taking in injured and damaged animals, like her cats Neuro and Logic, and cajoling family members to help foster those deemed unadoptable
That meant her mom Pat Snyder was constantly making room for pit bulls that Jennifer, a veterinary tech, couldn’t find homes for.
“She was a kind and gentle soul,” Snyder told the crowd at Victims’ Rights Vigil held at the Tree of Life Memorial Grove in Allentown Thursday evening. Snyder was one of four people whose lives were shattered by crime who spoke at the event organized by the Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley.
Her daughter’s body was at the Trexler Nature Preserve in North Whitehall Township in March 2011. Shortly before that, Jennifer had told her married lover, Montgomery County veterinarian David Rapoport that with his child. In December, to two counts of first-degree murder, one for her and one for their unborn baby. He received two consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole.
Snyder recalled how happy Jennifer was about the baby; though her daughter didn’t know it, she was carrying a boy.
While the criminal investigation and trial was going on it was hard to just let herself grieve, Snyder said. Through it all she’s met others whose lives were also shattered by crimes. “I’ve learned a lot about other people’s losses,” she said.
In honor of Jennifer’s love of animals, the family has set up the Jennifer Snyder Memorial Fund, which will award an annual $500 scholarship to Lehigh Carbon Community College students who are studying to be veterinary techs. LCCC was where Jennifer got her degree. The first scholarship will be awarded in November, Snyder said.
Having victims’ loved ones speak at the vigil is vital to remind the public these are real people and not just statistics, said Suzanne Beck, executive director of the Crime Victims Council. “We become desensitized to crime,” she said. “Behind each of these numbers is a story.”
Lucinda Benson, a survivor of child sexual assault, spoke of how she tried to suppress the memories of the assaults that started when she was 9-years-old. “I thought if I buried my truth and the shame I felt, that would protect me,” Benson said. “I was afraid of being judged by people.”
A couple of years ago, she summoned up the courage to talk about it and got counseling with the Crime Victims Council, which Benson said “has helped tremendously.”
She urged other victims to not be afraid to speak out. “Let me tell you what a tremendous burden has been lifted off of me,” she said. “Now I can breathe again.”
The council also honored four people for their advocacy and volunteer work with crime victims and families. They were:
-- Susan Fritsch, Lehigh County victim witness coordinator
-- Laura Accetta, Easton’s Weed and Seed site coordinator
-- Barbara Stader, community volunteer
-- Christopher Carl, who got the Public Citizen Award for assisting a stranger who was attacked in a parking lot. He held off the offender until police arrived and acted as a witness for the prosecution.