Hello everyone, and welcome to Forgotten True Crime by Okie Investigations, the True Crime Podcast where we tell the stories of crimes that happened long ago. If you are a true crime fan, make sure you subscribe to the podcast. That way, when we have new episodes, you will be the first to know. Also, check us out on our Facebook page Okie Investigations and visit our blog TrueCrime.Blog where we post many cool things we found for each episode. This episode, “The Visitor,” has a lot of exciting stuff for you to dig into. Could you make sure you go there and check it out?
Parts of this story may contain opinions and speculations and should be taken as such. These stories depict violent crimes of all types and may trigger some listeners. Listener discretion is advised.
We are in the month of February, the month of love! We decided to start an annual event called “Be Mine.” This will feature true crime stories of love and loss. Many of these stories do not feature a happily ever after, but rather full of misery forevermore.
I hope you all are enjoying this story so far. I have really enjoyed writing it. This is one of those stories that’s occupied my mind ever since I started researching it. But I’m not going to take too much time here with introductions. Let’s get to the story. In part one, we have narrowed down a list of two suspects. One of them is Professor Snook, who the Detectives have zeroed in on. The other was Marion T Meyers, the State researcher who put himself into the investigation. Marion, was let go after it was found that he was not in the area at the time of the murder. Professor Snook was unmoving during all of the questionings, but it wasn’t until they reviled that they had a new witness step forward that everything changed.
The news of the Professor’s involvement in what might be murder was national news. There wasn’t a paper in the state of Ohio that didn’t have this on front-page news for several weeks. Along with that press came multiple photos of the victim and the Professor. Now, people had come forward saying that they often saw the two together, but one man came forward that helped break open this case. A bellman for the local YMCA decided that he needed to tell the police what he knew of Mrs. Hix and Professor Snook.
He told the Detectives that Mrs. Hix rented an apartment from the YMCA and often came home with Professor Snook at her side. He would often go and stay the night with her, so much so that he thought that they were man and wife.
This news was precisely what Detectives were looking for. A current link to the relationship of the Professor and his victim. They went down to the local YMCA, and they took the keys that Mrs. Hix had on her when she died. They wanted to see the key fit the lock. But when they arrived and placed the key in the lock, it didn’t work.
So they decided to check up on this story with the Manager of the YMCA and see if any part of this story was genuine. The Manager told the Detectives that Mrs. Hix did indeed live at the YMCA and that it was Professor Snook who paid for the apartment every month. The morning the body was found before the news hit that Mrs. Hix was dead, the Professor had come into the YMCA and gave her the keys to the apartment. He told her that he was no longer going to rent it, and that was that. He gave two sets of keys to the Manager, and he had left.
When Prosecutor John J. Chester revealed that he knew about the apartment and the nature of the relationship between the two, the Professor seemed to break. He lowered his head and seemed ashamed of what he had done to himself and his family. The Prosecutor questioned him if he had a relationship with Mrs. Hix, and he didn’t say he did but seemed to agree that he did with a nod of his head. The Prosecutor then asked him about the keys. The Manager of the YMCA told them that he was given two keys to the room and that he returned two keys. They asked how he had both sets of keys if the other was supposed to be with Mrs. Hix. Professor Snook finally spoke, “You know how.” The Prosecutor asked to clarify, “You took it from her body?” And the Professor simply said, “Yes.”
The admission of guilt caused the Prosecutor to immediately end the interview at that time. They got a stenographer in the office right away. They knew that the Professor was ready to tell them a confession, and they wanted it all recorded.
In 1929, this was the best way to record interviews and confessions. They would often use a stenotype machine that would look like a typewriter. But this had fewer keys. They write in shorthand to keep up with the conversation. You still see them in courtrooms today and have been in use since the early 1800s.
Once everyone was in place, they recorded what the Professor had to say. The following is the word for word what was said.
Q: What is your name?
A: James Howard Snook.
Q: Your Age?
Q: Where do you live?
A: 349 W 10th st.
Q: Now tell the stenographer in your own language what happened on the night of June 13th.
“I met Theora Hix about three years ago. The friendship continued in a very intimate way ever since, as she was a very good companion. I have been living with my wife during this three-year period and regarded my wife very highly and respect her very much as a wife, but she lacked some of the companionship afforded by Mrs. Hix. During the three years that I knew Mrs. Hix, I did assist her in many ways toward education, but I found out it wasn’t appreciated as much as I thought it should be.”
“Our association was not a love affair in any sense of the word. But in time, Mrs. Hix developed a more determined attitude in regard to dictating my movements, and the final culmination of this occurred on the 13th of June of this year when I met Mrs. Hix at the corner of 12th and High street in the city of Columbus when we both got into my Ford coupe and proceeded to drive to Lave Ave, then west out of the Fisher road and to the Columbus rifle range of the New York Central Railroad Company, during when she remonstrated with me against leaving the city with my family for the weekend as I had planned to do. She threatened that if I did go that she would take the life of my wife and baby.”
“During this quarrel, she grabbed for the purse in which she sometimes carried a 41 caliber derringer when I had given her. In the struggle, she was hit on the head with a hammer with the intent to stun her. She continued desperately, and an increased number of blows of increasing force was necessary to stop her. Realizing then that her skull was fractured and to relieve her suffering, I severed her jugular vein with my pocket knife.”
“I then proceeded to pick up the things that had been scattered during the struggle and left. The instrument when I used to quiet her was a hammer lying in the back of the seat. After leaving the rifle range, I proceeded home, tossing the purse from the quarry bridge into the Scioto river on my way. After the struggle was over, I discovered the gun was not in the purse.”
The Professor went on to set up his Defense. He told the officers that he was afraid that Mrs. Hix would have followed up on her threats when she said she should kill his family. He said.
“When she started to get out of the car, I grabbed a hammer from the ledge of the back seat and hit her with the flat side of it. She got out, and I followed, hitting her again and again.”
“”Damn you, I’ll kill you!” were her last words. I kept hitting her. I struck her once with the round end of the hammer. That was a hard one. She was unconscious then and suffering. She had my sympathy. I didn’t want to hit her anymore. I hated to do that. She was lying on her back and moaning slightly when I took out my pocket knife and cut her jugular vein.”
“Her Handbag and keys came out of the car in the struggle. The wound she had on the abdomen and her back was machine cuts. She got them when she fell against the car.”
He then described returning home in a haze. He sat in the dark, thinking of his actions when his wife came down to check on him. She didn’t see the blood all over him because it was so dark. He changed and went to bed but didn’t sleep. The next day he pretended it didn’t happen and didn’t know that the body was found until it had hit the news.
A grand jury was assembled, listening to the evidence at hand. On June 22nd, they decided to indict Professor Snook on first-degree murder charges. They believe that there was enough for first-degree murder because of the confession that he slit her jugular vein when she was suffering. The hammer blows were in response to the danger that the Professor thought himself to be in. But it was the act of killing her when she was subdued that made him a possible murderer.
On June 24th 1929, Professor Snook and his attorneys attended the first hearing before the trial. They would first need to know how Professor Snook intended to plea. The Professor admitted his guilt and said that he would plead guilty but could change his mind.
This was not unexpected by the state. They knew from his confession that he was trying to make it look as if he had to kill her to protect his family. He might also explore another avenue, the temporary insanity plea. This is the “I snapped and lost my mind when it happened. I had no control over my actions” plea. It was slightly suggested that when the Professor spoke about the hammer blows, he felt as if he had to protect everyone. So, since they expected it, the state had already set up an interview the next day for Professor Snook with three doctors. They would each examine his mental and physical health.
They spent most of the day with the Professor. They took a blood sample of his to examine and had him complete a series of tests. By the end of the day, they could soundly say at that time, the Professor was sane. They just had to wait for the blood test to be examined, which could take weeks.
In response to this, the Defence hired their own medical team to examine the Professor as well. They also asked for a change of venue, and they wanted the trial date pushed back. It was set for July 22nd, just a little over a month after the murder. This was denied by the court. The Judge stated that he didn’t believe that anything could be gained by delaying the case. There were no more facts or findings, so there was no reason to wait.
But, the Defence had another trick up their sleeve. If they changed their plea to Not Guilty for the reason of insanity, the court would have no choice but to delay due to having to further judge the sanity of Professor Snook at the time of the murder.
The Judge, who wanted no delays, called both sides into his chambers to discuss what they would do. The Judge ordered that the Professor be examined again before the trial starts, and that would cause little to no delay if they worked over the weekend. Both sides agreed. So the weekend before the trial was to have started, three more doctors came in to examine Professor Snook. By Monday morning, their findings were that he was sane.
So, Professor Snook changed his plea to Not Guilty / He acted in self-defense. They also stated that he had emotional insanity. He was overcome with his emotions which led to Mrs. Hix’s death.
The trial began on August 3rd, 1929, after the jury selection had ended. They had one delay when a juror got sick, but they were able to replace her quickly.
The state first called the state doctor who performed the autopsy on Mrs. Hix. He stated that he believed this was premeditated murder, something that the Defence jumped on right away. They asked for him to prove that statement from his findings. The doctor pointed out that the Professor cut her throat to end her suffering of damage caused her.
They called the owner of the cleaners, where the Professor took his suit that had bloodstains on it. The Professor brought it first thing in the morning the day after the murder.
They called several witnesses, including one that came forward to have seen Mrs. Hix with someone in the parking lot of the rifle range. They appeared to have been fighting at the time. He said he didn’t stop because he had his daughters with him. He didn’t think about it again until the news of Mrs. Hix’s death was published, and he waited to report what he had seen because he didn’t want to be involved. This was important because, according to the confession, Mrs. Hix didn’t get out o the car for long without being hit over and over with the hammer. This showed that there was more to the story than what the Professor was willing to admit.
Then the state revealed that they did some really odd tests. You see, they started the theory that the Professor drugged Mrs. Hix and then killed her. This theory was formed when the doctor who did the autopsy found beef in her stomach, something she didn’t have time to digest before she died. They believed it was laced with drugs. So, the doctor gave some of the undigested beef to a dog. The dog acted weird and wobbly after eating the meat. As if he was drugged with some kind of sedative.
I found this to be a completely crazy way to test a theory. I would be wobbly and acting sick if I, too, were given undigested meat from the stomach of a dead person. Drugged or not. But the test was done, and it was considered evidence in the doctor’s mind that the meat was drugged.
Then the newspaper writer, who also gained a confession from the Professor, also testified to what he was told. The Defense challenged this because it was taken while the Professor was under duress. But the Judge decided to allow it to give the complete picture of the confession.
The Defense called character witnesses to the stand. They had Mrs. Snook and the Professors’ mother testify to what kind of person he really is. Then they called Professor James Snook to the stand. He testified to his entire life story. How he met Mrs. Hix and how they fell for each other. They had an understanding that they would see each other for physical pleasure and not much more. He told a story of how Mrs. Hix began experimenting with drugs and became addicted to them. He then told of the night she died and recounted what had happened. How she threatened the life of his family and that he believed that she had her gun on her. He taught her how to shoot, and she was good at it. He was an Olympic gold medalist for shooting and knew what he was talking about. He stated that he was only acting in self-defense when he killed her.
The case was handed over to the jury. They had come back within the record-breaking time. Within 30 minutes, they came to their decision. They found Dr. James Snook, Guilty of Murder in the first degree. They fixed death as his sentence.
The jury obviously didn’t believe the story that the Professor had put together. It was hard to believe that a firearm expert like Dr. Snook would kill someone in self-defense, thinking they had a gun when they didn’t. He bled her out to kill her.
In the months leading up to his execution, Attorneys for the Professor tried hard to save his life. But each appeal was struck down. He was scheduled to die on February 28th, 1930. When the Governor declined to step in and stop the execution, Dr. Snook did something extraordinary. He confessed to everything.
The Prison Wardon came in to see Dr. Snook before he was to be put to death. It was there where he heard the full confession to what had happened. He told the Warden that Mrs. Hix was going to expose him. She would tell the world about their affair and that he would be ruined. It would expose him, end his marriage, and end his teaching career. So, he simply planned to kill her. This was his only way to ensure that he would not be exposed, and he honestly believed that no one would be able to tie him to the murder. He was shocked when they got to him so fast.
On March 1st, 1930, Dr. Snook stepped into the death chamber. Without any assistance, he took a seat in the electric chair. The preacher prayed for him, and then soon after, he was put to death.
James Snook was buried in his family’s plot, but they did not use his last name on the tombstone. They used his middle name as his last so that no one would damage the stone.
It’s amazing that these kinds of things have been going on for so long. I am always hearing about people in power taking advantage of others. We see it in politics, media, and in personal businesses. Over a year ago, I learned that a creator like myself did some horrible things with a young woman when they attended the show he worked on. It was a real eye-opener for me. You just never know if someone is honest until it’s just too late.
I hope you all enjoyed this series. This was incredible to research. Make sure you rate the podcast and share it with a friend. We want to grow and provide more content. The only way that will happen is with your help. You can follow me and my exploits by following my social media. The links are in the description. I hope you all have a great week, and I will see you all next time. See ya.