This episode is a reminder that we’re all more connected than we realize. A woman named Lianne Bell agrees to do a favor for her mother and it ends up tying her to the Snarrs and Yvette in ways she never expected. Lianne delivers letters. Sy comes to Liane’s house. And in a room where the mother of the shooter once prayed for peace, Sy Snarr will find the miracle she’s been searching for since she lost her son.
Get more information and photos on our website, theletterpodcast.com.
Researched and reported by Amy Donaldson
Written by Amy Donaldson and Andrea Smardon
Production and sound design by Andrea Smardon
Mixing by Trent Sell
Special thanks to Nina Earnest, Becky Bruce, KellieAnn Halvorsen, Ryan Meeks, Ben Kuebrich, Josh Tilton and Dave Cawley.
Main musical score composed by Allison Leyton Brown
With KSL Podcasts Executive Producer Sheryl Worsley
For Lemonada Media, Executive Producers Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs
And Executive Producers Paul Anderson and Nick Panella with WorkHouse Media.
The Letter is produced by KSL Podcasts and Lemonada Media in association with WorkHouse Media.
The Letter is sponsored by Hunt a Killer, immersive mystery games where you get to be the detective. Get $10 off at huntakiller.com/theletter with code THELETTER.
For a full list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and all other Lemonada series, you can visit lemonadamedia.com/sponsors
See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Sy Snarr, Amy Donaldson, Yvette Rodier, Ron Snarr, Sydney, Danielle, Lianne Bell
Amy Donaldson 01:38
A warning to listeners. This podcast includes descriptions of gun violence and associated trauma. Please take care when listening.
Lianne Bell 01:51
I didn’t hear about the shooting until Sunday morning when my parents did call my home.
Amy Donaldson 01:57
It was the morning of September 1, 1986. When Lianne Bell’s mother called and asked for an unusual favor. A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Lianne was busy getting her five children ready for Sunday morning service. Her mother asked her if she would take a friend to church with her. Lianna knew the friend, a woman named Aleta. Her parents met the single mother of three when they were serving in church mission in New York in the early 90s.
Lianne Bell 02:27
And she said Aleta’s son has committed a horrible crime. And all that Nolita wants to do this morning is be in a place where she can partake of the sacrament to bring peace and comfort to her soul.
Amy Donaldson 02:43
Lianne agreed to her mother’s request. But she also wondered if she was equipped to deal with the kind of pain this woman must be feeling. She asked her husband to help her and they left their 14 year old son in charge of his siblings. While they drove to Aleta’s apartment just a few minutes from their Salt Lake City home.
Lianne Bell 03:03
I helped her basically from her apartment and car. I knew at the moment we’ve seen her that was very sad, real pain, real intense pain. And I have questions since I don’t know how she moved about really I don’t know how she physically was able to leave her apartment and get in our car and go to church after hearing and knowing the intensity, the severity of what had just happened with her son, what he had done.
Amy Donaldson 03:48
Sometimes in life, we are unaware of the ways in which we are connected to other people. We may have a mutual friend, a common experience. Or maybe we witnessed something from different vantage points. Most of the time, those six degrees of separation are never revealed to us. But in this episode, they are. A woman who is acquainted with the family of George Benvenuto finds herself playing a critical role in a story that took two decades to unfold. From KSL podcasts. I’m Amy Donaldson. And this is The Letter, Episode Seven, Delivered. Lianne’s parents served a mission for the Latter Day Saints in Bronx and queens from 1992 until 1994. Part of their assignment as missionaries, or what members refer to as a calling was to help families like the Benvenuto’s.
Lianne Bell 05:13
Part of their calling was to be friend and seek out and support members of the church who were recently baptized or they were referred to as new members.
Amy Donaldson 05:26
In this way, Lianne’s parents meant Aleta.
Lianne Bell 05:29
they developed a really close relationship, and Aleta had left Uruguay with her three children to come to the States right after a divorce. So she was this mother who was trying to make this quality life for her children in the States. her three children were her life. And she served them and was dedicated to the church and there was just so much love for her children.
Amy Donaldson 06:00
Lianne’s parents told her stories about Aleta’s devotion to her newfound faith.
Lianne Bell 06:09
My parents would offer these lessons in their home and Aleta would take a subway, change lines here and there and then walk pretty far distance to my parents apartment, really had hopes of bettering herself and finding strain and learning more about the gospel of Jesus Christ that she knew that this avenue that this place of worship and learning was something that could bring her comfort and stability in her family’s lives. All of her children that was her goal. So she made great sacrifices in attending these meetings just like a pilgrim, just forge ahead.
Amy Donaldson 06:49
When the 18 month mission was complete, Lianne’s parents had an emotional goodbye to the people they were serving in New York, and came home to Provo, Utah. Not too long after they left they heard from Aleta. She told them she wanted to move her family to Utah as well.
Lianne Bell 07:07
The explanation was that she wanted to give her children even a better opportunity in Utah where the church flourished and in her mind would be more of a safe haven and the city of New York.
Amy Donaldson 07:21
When her mom called her on that Sunday morning, Lianne knew very little about the crime Nolita son committed just a few days earlier at little Dell reservoir. She didn’t know that the 18 year old boy he’d murdered Zachary Snarr and the 18 year old girl who’d survived Yvette Rodier actually lived in her Salt Lake City neighborhood. She didn’t know that many of those teenagers who attended her local Latter Day Saint congregation also went to school with Zach and Yvette. The same school that her oldest child would attend a year later. All she knew was that her mother’s dear friend was desperate for a few minutes of peace. And the leader believed that she would find them in what Latter Day Saints call a sacrament meeting, a one hour weekly meeting in which members partake of bread and water that represent the body in the blood of Jesus Christ. That particular meeting was unique for another reason. On the first Sunday of each month, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints participate in what is called fast and testimony meeting. They skip meals and donate what they would have spent on food to a fund that helps the poor. And on that day, anyone can share their testimony of the gospel with their fellow congregants. It’s basically an open mic for Sunday sermons. Lianne says, they drove from the leaders apartment to Aleta’s home in silence. before they left for the church service, she and her husband gathered their children and knelt in their living room for a prayer
Lianne Bell 09:07
Just asked for comfort and peace would be found somehow in the meeting. And then we got in the car and drove to church, but just she just shook her head a lot. Just tears flowed just very easily she wore sunglasses. You know, I just wonder if the heavens felt a little closed to her at the time.
Amy Donaldson 09:39
Lianne says she felt the weight of Miletus pain as they took their seats on the wooden pew. Her children seem to intuitively know that the adults around them were fragile.
Lianne Bell 09:53
The kids were surprisingly really well behaved. They were very quiet. Very subdued. They just sat very, very quietly. And Aleta sat right by me. Next to me on my right, and to saying the opening him and the prayer, and I was just praying, hoping that there would be something in this meeting that would bring her some comfort. I just didn’t even know where to begin and a prayer. Like, it’s just too huge. You don’t ever think that you’re going to even be associated with something so large as this in someone who is just so good. So good. As a mother, that was just so sorry for her and what could I say? It would even bring her peace of that moment, nothing.
Amy Donaldson 10:42
After every member of the congregation had been offered the sacrament, those in attendance, were invited to the pulpit.
Lianne Bell 10:48
Whoever wants to, whoever feels inclined or strongly about something or want to bear witness to their faith. You can walk up to the microphone and, and tell us speak to us. And that’s always been very, you know, mostly uplifting.
Amy Donaldson 11:09
But instead of the usual discussions of doctrine or faith, a succession of teenage congregants had something else they wanted to share grief, over the killing of their friend, Zachary Snarr. They had no idea that the killer’s mother was sitting amongst them in the pews.
Lianne Bell 11:28
A few of these youth felt the need to stand up mostly they were standing to just shed their emotions of grief. One by one, these youth stood up crying and crying and expressing emotions of I can’t understand why this happened. Who is this person? Why do we have to endure this in our lives where kids just heavy, heavy emotional testimonies?
Amy Donaldson 11:57
Leann, and Aleta couldn’t have been prepared for what happened that morning. Of all the churches in Aleta could have gone to, it seemed almost cruel that she ended up at this one.
Lianne Bell 12:11
The mother of this killer, which the youth had no idea was sitting right next to me on the bench, listening to how her son had changed these youth lives forever. And she just started squeezing my hand, and just saying I can’t do this, I can’t do this as one more youth would walk up, she would look, I’m just, I can’t, I gotta leave. I can’t go through this anymore. So maybe 5678 youth one after another. But she didn’t want to get up and leave because that would bring attention to herself. And I would have to pack up everything of mine and take her home early. So she endured I don’t know how she did that she endured an hour meeting, at least, of hearing of the grieve that her son had just caused this student body almost of kids. I took her home alone, just Aleta and I in the car and nothing was said much. I did remember saying the leader I know that you will find a purpose in this someday. And you will find comfort eventually in your life. And of course she can respond. I don’t even know if words were heard. At that point. She just wanted to get home really quickly.
Amy Donaldson 13:42
Lianne says she’s contemplated the lessons of that Sunday morning often. She never hears about these kinds of tragedies without wondering what pain might be hidden. Who else might be hurting?
Lianne Bell 14:02
I always think of family members. I always think of mothers, when I hear statements from them later of apologies, or we just don’t know how this happened. We are so sorry. I just, I feel like they don’t even have the adequate words to express their pain for the pain their child caused, and watching Aleta that day and seeing her barely able to physically transport herself from one place to another. The pain was as severe as any pain experienced on her.
Amy Donaldson 14:39
Lianne’s parents told her that elitist pain persisted long after the court hearings ended.
Lianne Bell 14:45
Years and years and years my parents kind of played a role of trying to comfort although they didn’t ever feel like they could create any kind of change or deep down comfort and Aleta. My mom was very, very sad for her friend, this nalepa friend who she wants who has a vivacious hopeful mother. This is what I’m doing for my children. This is a lie. This is my path. I’m going to reach it. This is all I want for my family that went away very quickly and very forcefully. And I think my mom just ached for her so bad.
Amy Donaldson 15:25
Lianne’s mother died in 2014, thinking that sorrow would always play a prominent role in her friend’s life. But a few years after her mother’s death, the leader reached out to Leanne with a request
Lianne Bell 15:48
Aleta emailed me one day and said that George had written a letter to the victims, and that he wanted someone to deliver hand deliver this letter to the star family, and would I be able to do that? Would I be the person that would hand deliver the letter? And I really wanted to think about it because I, I wanted to imagine what this would look like. Just going to the snares porch and ringing the doorbell with a letter for them from this criminal, the man who taken their son’s life, I didn’t know where they were at emotionally, spiritually, mentally, I had no idea. I didn’t know this Snarr family at all. I never met them. And so I told Aleta that I would need to think about it. So I thought about it, I prayed about it. I didn’t feel like I had received any kind of reassurance or answer. So I told Aleta I don’t think I can do that. I want to watch out for the victims first, and that’s great that George has a letter of repentance, but I’m not. I can’t find a way yet. And she was nice. She was kind and if you ever change your mind, please let me know. He really wants it to be hand delivered so that he can know they received it and have someone report back that it’s in their hands.
Amy Donaldson 17:15
Lianne declined to deliver the letter, but she didn’t just forget about it either. It was about a year later, when she realized she had a connection with Zachary’s mom, Sy Snarr, her cousin Karen Fairbanks was friends with Sy.
Lianne Bell 17:31
This thought just came to me that maybe I should ask my cousin ever if she’d been she’s communicating with Sy, let Sy know that I have access to a letter from George if she’s interested. And that’s where this all unfolded.
Amy Donaldson 17:53
That’s after the break. It was Christmas of 2018 when Sy Snarr met her good friend Karen Fairbanks for their annual holiday dinner. And so I could tell Karen had something on her mind.
Sy Snarr 21:15
And we were sitting there and she says I have something to tell you. And I’m a little nervous to tell you and I said, well, is it about Jorge because I figured why else would you be nervous to talk? And she says Yeah. And I said, well, what? And she says well, he wants to give you a letter.
Amy Donaldson 21:29
Sy learned that Aleta had hoped to have someone hand deliver the letter to the Snarr’s more than a year earlier.
Sy Snarr 21:36
For some reason she told me that night and I just looked at and I said, I’ve waited 22 years for that letter. Every August 28th. Every single August 28th. Does he know what today is? You know this even think about Zack, does he care? You know that it always been in my mind. And so I said I want the letter. I want it. And she said are you sure? I said yeah, I’m sure.
Amy Donaldson 22:01
When she got home, Sy called her oldest son Trent and told him about the letter.
Sy Snarr 22:06
And he says, well, I don’t think you should read it. What if it’s, what if he says something that’s upsetting, is gonna make you sad or upset you and I said Trent he can’t take any more from me than he already has. You know, he can’t hurt me anymore. And I said, I really think it’s got to be an apology. Why else would he send a letter and he says, well, what if he just wants you to get him out? And I said, well, that can’t happen.
Amy Donaldson 22:31
Meanwhile, Karen called Lianne to report back about her conversation with Sy.
Lianne Bell 22:36
My cousin got back to me, she called me and she said Sy’s really interested in the letter. And would love to have that and I’m going to give you her number and you work it out with her but she is interested in it.
Amy Donaldson 22:49
Lianne’s first call was to Aleta.
Lianne Bell 22:52
And I said, we’ll deliver the letter it’s wanted and it’s actually really anticipate, I mean, Sy wants the letter.
Amy Donaldson 23:02
So in January of 2019, Aleta sent the letter overnight by registered mail, Lianne signed for it and contemplated what she held in her hands.
Lianne Bell 23:15
I think I just felt the power, of power of a man in prison. His sorrow and his need and desire for relief, to offer relief to a family that he had hurt very badly to families, victims, friends, many people and so I of course just kept it and called Sy and we made up in a time to meet and that she would receive this letter.
Amy Donaldson 23:57
Lianne invited Sy to her home in the same room, where she knelt in prayer with Aleta all those years ago, Lianne handed Sy a letter from the man who killed her son.
Lianne Bell 24:11
And she just kept it in her lap and said, I’ll wait to open it with Ron. We’ve been through all this from the beginning together and we’ll read it together. And then we just talked about life, my parents, the events, just so many things.
Sy Snarr 24:27
She explained, you know that she was nervous about it, too, and really didn’t want any part of it. And then she told me a story that just blew me out of the water.
Amy Donaldson 24:37
The story was about that painful church meeting.
Sy Snarr 24:40
And every single testimony in that meeting was about that about Zach, and that poor woman had to sit there and listen to it. And I can’t imagine what that was like for her. What are the chances you know, I just, I can’t and imagine how hard that was […]. Lianne said she was just shaking, had her sunglasses. I’m just shaking. My heart really went out to her at that point. You know how awful for her.
Amy Donaldson 25:12
As they talked, Sy and Lianna forged an immediate bond.
Lianne Bell 25:16
I felt very close to sigh. It was a very strong, I’ll just describe it as a warmth in the room. A feeling of relief. I hate to use the term loosely of closure, but it really was kind of a moment of just released.
Sy Snarr 25:45
I said, I don’t want to read it now. I want to read it with Ron. When I got home, he wasn’t home, of course. But I still didn’t look at it. I thought I’ve waited this long. I can wait till he gets home.
Amy Donaldson 25:54
And did it feel? What did it feel like to carry it?
Sy Snarr 25:58
Oh, it was just like this is, it was, like surreal to me. Like I because I used to think I wonder if he’d ever even write a letter or something you know, would ever, never thought it would happen. And here it is 22 and a half years later. But anyway, when Ron got home, we sit and read it together and I just wept. I could not believe that letter. I felt the sincerity. And I knew it was it was handwritten, and I knew it was his signature. I’d seen his signature before and he does this big loop around his name and it was there. I remembered it. And it just, I could not believe how that letter made me feel.
Amy Donaldson 26:41
Empathy washed over Ron, all he could think about was his own prayers a couple of years earlier, where he pleaded for forgiveness as he tried to exercise, the hateful demons that had haunted him for nearly two decades.
Ron Snarr 26:59
I thought of myself, everybody makes a mistake, you know, and he made a terrible mistake. I just kept thinking that Jesus forgive them for they don’t know what they did. And he wasn’t he didn’t know what he was doing. And so that was the answer to the question.
Amy Donaldson 27:15
When Ron read the words carefully written online notebook paper, he knew it was time to make his son proud.
Ron Snarr 27:24
I’m trying to have the Spirit of Christ in me, you know, and forgive one another as you’d have them forgive you, you know, and I’m feeling the tap on my shoulder.
Amy Donaldson 27:40
Even from beyond the grave, Ron could feel Zach tapping him on the shoulder, reminding him of what was right.
Ron Snarr 27:48
He’s all over it. He was just an exceptional human being.
Amy Donaldson 27:58
Lianne said she never wondered what George had written to the snares. But she did hope the letter would bring them some peace. Still, she could not imagine how the letter would change their lives and the life of her friend, the leader. Shortly after Leanne delivered the letter, Sy called her.
Lianne Bell 28:18
She was so joyful. She just almost didn’t have words to convey her feelings of lightness and happiness. I don’t even know if those are the right words just rightness. Things are right, things feel good. And I felt that through her expressions.
Amy Donaldson 28:40
George’s letter created a beautiful but fragile refuge for Sy and Ron. And Sy especially became fiercely protective of this new and unique relationship. For many weeks, they were exceedingly careful about who they told about the letter and the transformation that had wrought in their lives. The one exception, their children. Sy said they told them the next day. Both Sid and Trent had worried that allowing the man who stole Zachary from them to reenter their lives, even though a letter would reopen wounds. They’d all worked so hard to heal.
Sy Snarr 29:21
I called Sydney and I said, I want to read you this letter. And she said, well, I don’t know if I want to hear it. And I said, you need to hear it.
She’s like, I want to read this letter from Jorge. She called him George, can I read you this? And I was like, at first I was kind of like, I don’t know. But I thought you know what? Yeah, let me hear. Let me hear and she started reading it to me, and I was bawling by the end of the first paragraph, like crying and my hands were shaking and she finished the letter and it was just silent for a minute and I said to my mom, I’m like, I needed to hear that I can breathe for the first time in 24 years. Like I could take a deep breath and not feel that crack in my heart. It actually took me a couple of days to even talk to my husband about it because I couldn’t stop crying. But it was beautiful. And it’s such a weird word to describe it, but it’s true. It was beautiful. And it was just, it was so sincere. You know, and we’re not, I wouldn’t consider ourselves gullible people. It’s not like I, you know, there’s a chance that this was a scam or him trying to, you know, it was so sincere and so heartfelt. And for the very first time, since, I mean, for the first time in 24 years, I was like, he’s a person. He is a human being. And he regrets and he is so saddened and his heart was broken to.
Sy Snarr 31:03
I had called Trent and I said, I want to read you this letter, he’s just gonna read it. And I waited and waited and waited, and he didn’t say anything. And I finally said, Trent, and he was emotional, too. And he says, the whole thing is just so incredibly sad to me. But that letter was, so I felt his sincerity. He made no excuses. He didn’t ask for forgiveness, nothing. It was a beautiful letter that changed everything.
Amy Donaldson 33:38
The Snarr’s were not sure they wanted to share this letter with the world. Because he wrote the letter for them, it felt like a betrayal to share it publicly. But eventually, they came to the conclusion that if we were going to tell this story, it’s important for listeners who have gone on this journey to hear the words that transform their lives. That’s after the break. As Sy reads the letter aloud. I would just like listeners to consider that we cannot ever completely understand what these words would mean to someone whose son wasn’t murdered
Sy Snarr 35:02
To the Snarr family. I want to begin by saying that I wrote this letter because I thought that it would be the right thing to do for the people that I have affected and not because I wanted anyone to relive painful memories. I hope that I was right in making this decision. I should have written this letter of apology many years ago. But the truth is that I had to do a lot of growing, maturing and reflecting first. For a very long time I lived in denial about what I had done, my responsibility and guilt. The serious of my crime, and how profoundly it affected so many people. Now that I’m older, I can better imagine how furious and hurt I would feel. If someone took the life of one of my loved ones. I have been very cruel and evil to your family as well as to others. Please don’t blame my family for what I did. I’m the only one that bears responsibility for your son’s death. What I did was not because of the upbringing that my family provided me. I committed my evil crime in spite of the values that they tried to teach me. There are good people who feel a deep regret and sadness for your loss and suffering. I want to apologize to everyone that I hurt by taking Zachary away from his parents, family friends, church members, schoolmates, as well as anyone else who knew and loved him. Every day I regret taking Zachary’s life from him and denying him the journey and destiny that his Heavenly Father had planned for him. I apologize for taking away from him his right to pursue his goals, dreams and happiness. I’m sorry for taking away from him and the people that loved him, the time that you would have spent together. I wish that I could undo what I did, the suffering I caused and the emptiness I left behind in so many lives. I’m sorry that I put all of you through this living hell sincerely, Jorge Benvenuto. I feel his sincerity in that apology. And you know, it means more because he didn’t write it right away, because it wouldn’t have been sincere. The fact that he admits that and he said he had to realize what he had done that I just think it was so eloquent. I don’t think he just sat and wrote it out. I think he put a lot of thought into it. Probably rewrote it many times. You know, Karen, my friend said he not only gave you your greatest pain, he has given you your greatest gift. And it’s so true.
Amy Donaldson 37:36
Sai has likened her grief and anger to a backpack full of rocks that weighed her down for years. The decision to forgive lighten the load. But the letter freed her from weight she didn’t even realize she was still carrying.
Sy Snarr 37:52
When I read that every last little rock, pebble is gone. It’s gone. And I feel nothing but gratitude for him, to him for giving us this gift. You know, I don’t know what his life has been like. I don’t know what caused him to do it. But I know that he has sincere regret about what he did. And he’s taken full responsibility, it really impresses me that he didn’t put the blame on anyone else or something that happened to him. He didn’t ask me to forgive him. He just said, you know, I’m so sorry. But I did was wrong. And please don’t blame my family. And that really touched my heart right there, that touched my heart.
Amy Donaldson 38:56
I think it’s important to let you know that we did reach out to George and ask him if he wanted to participate in the podcast. We exchanged a few letters, and he shared some thoughts that you’ll hear in a later episode. But he declined to be interviewed. He also asked us not to contact his family. We have respected that request. And that’s why you won’t hear from them in this podcast. So I learned that George had written a letter to Yvette as well. And she reached out to a vet to ask her if she wanted the letter he’d written for her.
Yvette Rodier 39:31
I hadn’t talked to Sy in a bit. She called One Sunday. And I didn’t answer the call. I had missed it. I thought oh, I’m sure I’ll talk to her in a minute or tomorrow or something. And then she called I think two more times within the next couple of hours. And I realized she needs to talk to me. And we had guests over something that I couldn’t answer right then. But I did call her back later and we got caught up on everything. seeing and how everyone was doing. And then she told me about her letter first. She told me how beneficial it’s been for her.
Amy Donaldson 40:12
Were you surprised that she got a letter?
Yvette Rodier 40:14
Very, very, I would never think that she would want to hear from him. But I love that for her that that was her decision Like he never showed any signs of remorse or interest in any of us. And so that he had a desire to write a letter that was shocking.
Amy Donaldson 40:37
And so she’s telling you how big it’s been for her and you’re happy for her?
Yvette Rodier 40:42
I love it, I could tell it had brought her a lot of I don’t know if she used the word peace. But that’s the feeling I got is that she felt peace with it, and that it has been very helpful for her. And she’s so glad that she got it.
Amy Donaldson 40:58
Then Sy told Yvette that there’s a letter for her too.
Yvette Rodier 41:02
And I could tell she was nervous to ask me. And she prefaced I think several times with there isn’t a wrong answer. And I don’t, I love you and it won’t matter what you choose. And I sobbed. I just started crying. I think it was partly because I don’t think about him. And that he was so forward in her thoughts. And then he was suddenly in my house essentially, that’s how I felt I felt like he was in my house. At that minute. He was essentially putting forth a question for me to choose something for me to choose it. It was so left field. So my reaction was to sob. And I had no idea what I felt what I thought what I would want. It just was beyond anything I’ve ever contemplated.
Amy Donaldson 41:57
Yvette says she was so overwhelmed. She told Sy she needed time to process what was being offered, and how it might impact her life.
Yvette Rodier 42:06
I think I asked her for a couple of days that I wanted to talk to my husband. And to date, I have still not called her back about that issue. I know I’ve made a decision. But I haven’t told her yet. What’s your decision? I do not want a letter from him.
Amy Donaldson 42:24
The process of making that decision was so complex. Yvette says she has a hard time explaining it. Even to those who love her most. She took Sy’s call alone. And she kept the question to herself for the first couple of days. It took her a while to even bring it up with her husband, Dave.
Yvette Rodier 42:42
I’ve tried to figure out how I was going to present it to him. Not because it was anything bad. But just I had to put the words to what it was and what I was feeling. When we did finally talk about it. He was intrigued. He had questions that I didn’t have answers for. And then we just kind of went back and forth on pros and cons about why it would be good or bad. And the end for me was I didn’t want to give him that relief that he’d given something to me that maybe helped me, which sounds really mean and a little bit vindictive. But he can write the letter, but I feel like my receipt of the letter would give him some sort of comfort that I don’t feel he deserves.
Amy Donaldson 43:37
Yvette says she isn’t consumed with anger at the man who shot her. Instead, her decision is aimed simply at preserving the life she’s built. Without any shadow of him in it.
Yvette Rodier 43:50
The way I feel about him is very neutral. I’ve never been angry at him. I feel like probably because everyone around me was so angry at him that it was easy for me to just let them be angry. I’ll deal with my own stuff. And they can be angry. So I don’t have any extreme feelings about anything toward him, I guess except that I don’t want him to feel comforted by something I do for him. And that’s probably one of the main things is it wouldn’t change how I feel because it’s I think it’s easier for me it was not personal. The shooting was not personal. He didn’t know us. He wasn’t angry at us. And so I’ve not made it personal. So it’s not really toward me it just whoever was there it was going to happen. And so he’s not a person in my life either.
Amy Donaldson 44:48
When Yvette told her family about her refusal to accept a letter from the man who shot her. They supported and even admired her decision, despite their curiosity about what he might write to her.
It drove me nuts because I wanted to know what it said.
Amy Donaldson 45:03
Yvette sister, Danielle was definitely among the curious.
And she said she didn’t want to read it. And she said she wasn’t even gonna let Dave read it. And she just that was her boundary. She’s like, I’m not letting that into my world. It’s like, oh, oh, oh, and so I have very little information about what’s going on. Dave and I were both sitting there, like and let Dave read it. Let Dave read it. Like you can tell me, Dave. Yeah, so it’s unbelievable to me. Well, it could be unbelievable that she wouldn’t be curious about that in that way. But it also just speaks to her strength and to her resolve to not let these things into our lives. And I totally support her in that. And I wouldn’t push her expect her to do anything that she’s not comfortable with.
Amy Donaldson 45:47
And discussing how she made her decision, Yvette realized one important factor. This was the first time she’d made a major life decision without thinking, what would Zach do?
Yvette Rodier 46:01
That’s been my decision on my own, and it feels really good.
Amy Donaldson 46:07
The Snarr’s and Yvette continue to profess their affection for each other. But for now, at least, they are traveling different paths. Sydney understands why Yvette wouldn’t want the letter and says, had the request not come from her own mother. She may never have opened herself up either.
I can’t imagine surviving the ordeal that Yvette went through the fear that she must have felt and how terrifying it was for her to feel his breath on her face while he searched their pockets, you know, and the fact that she had to play dead, and I get why she doesn’t want to see it.
Amy Donaldson 46:54
Yvette and Leanne have never met. But Leanne says if there’s anyone in this story to whom she relates, it’s Yvette. And she is not surprised that she does not want a letter from George.
Lianne Bell 47:06
I do think of Yvette and I can see myself as Yvette. Yeah, I think are often and I do feel that we as individuals personally, can gauge ourselves and our responses, our wishes and desires. We know ourselves really well. We know what actions will cause comfort and what actions may cause more creep. And we’re tenuous or fragile world. We calculate things very carefully for our comfort. And so I understand completely, how that has to be a very careful guide for her just how I was as this outsider to just […] letter delivering a letter, I couldn’t do it. I don’t even feel this amount of pain. yet. I couldn’t even go up to a porch and ring a doorbell until I knew I was very confident with the outcome. And that’s a lot of times how we decide to live our lives which is very natural and very careful.
Amy Donaldson 48:18
As for the Snarr’s, they feel Zach’s hand in what’s taken place. And forgiving George makes them feel closer to their son.
Sy Snarr 48:28
I think he’s orchestrated. He’s been working his magic somehow because it’s happened and I know that he’s so happy about it. I believe in miracles. Sometimes I thought there are no miracles. Yeah, there are. And this is a big one.
Amy Donaldson 48:53
And this is where the story might have ended, instead, Sy decided to write her own letter.
Sy Snarr 49:01
I did write him back. And I told him without a doubt I knew Zach had forgiven him immediately. And my forgiveness is sincere. I have totally, totally forgiven him.
Amy Donaldson 49:17
But as Sy will discover forgiveness wasn’t the end. It was the beginning of something else entirely. Next time on The Letter, Sy sits down with the man who murdered her son.
Sy Snarr 49:34
So I walked up and embraced him. And he embraced her. And I was standing behind Sy and he said I’m so sorry. I took him from you. And Sy said I know you are.
THE LETTER is researched and reported by me, Amy Donaldson. It’s written by myself and Andrea Smardon, who is also responsible for Production and Sound Design. Mixing by Trent Sell. Special thanks to Nina Earnest, Becky Bruce, KellieAnn Halvorsen, Ryan Meeks, Ben Kuebrich, Josh Tilton and Dave Cawley. Main musical score composed by Allison Leyton Brown with KSL Podcasts Executive Producer Sheryl Worsley. For Lemonada Media, Executive Producers Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs And Executive Producers Paul Anderson and Nick Panella with WorkHouse Media. If you’d like our show, please give us a rating and review. It helps people find us follow us at the letterpodcast.com and on social at @theletterpodcast. The letter is produced by KSL podcasts and Lemonada Media in association with Workhouse Media.