Michigan's Mazi Smith pleads guilty to misdemeanor gun charge

Minnesota man extradited to Michigan in 36-year-old homicide case

Associated Press and The Detroit News

Lansing — A Minnesota man charged with murder in the presumed death of a Michigan man who disappeared in 1983 was extradited to Michigan on Saturday.

Roy Snell, 55, of Fridley, Minnesota, faces felony murder and firearms charges in relation to the disappearance of Richard Atwood.

Snell was arrested March 13 in Minneapolis by the Minneapolis Violent Criminal Apprehension Unit. He is being charged jointly by the Michigan Department of Attorney General and Newaygo County Prosecutor Worth Stay.

Snell had been held in the Hennepin County, Minnesota, jail and waived extradition.

“I would like to thank the Michigan State Police, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office and Prosecutor Stay for all their hard work on this,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement. "Cold cases are difficult cases to investigate, which makes good teamwork that much more important.”

Snell is being charged in Newaygo County with one count of homicide-felony murder, punishable by life without parole, and one count of weapons-felony firearm, punishable by two years in prison to be served consecutively and preceding any term of imprisonment imposed.

Snell is expected to be arraigned at the 78th District Court in White Cloud, Michigan, as early as Monday, even though the court is closed to the public in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Atwood was 25 when he was last seen in White Cloud. His girlfriend, Debra Cain, told police that she returned to their trailer and noticed that his fishing gear was missing.

Atwood's car was recovered two months later in October 1983. Investigators said they discovered blood and human tissue linked to him. His body has not been found.

Snell has made incriminating statements to others over the years, and his DNA was found on cigarette butts in the car, according to an affidavit by Det. Sgt. Scott Rios of the Newaygo County sheriff's department. Robbery apparently was a motive, Rios said.

Police are still seeking information about the case. 

“Sometimes an arrest and the passage of time gives witnesses with information about a crime the courage to come forward,” said Michigan State Police Detective First Lt. Mike Anderson said in a statement. 

“Although 36 years have passed, we feel there are still people in West Michigan who have information about this case that could benefit both the detectives and prosecutors; we would like to hear from them. Even though the information may seem insignificant, it can be the missing piece of the puzzle investigators are looking for.”

Information can be given in a variety of ways including:

►Speaking with a detective in person or by phone at the Michigan State Police Hart Post at (231) 873-2171 or the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office at (231) 689-7303.

►Calling the Michigan State Police Cold Case Tip Line at (989) 775-9302.

►Leaving an anonymous tip at Silent Observer of West Michigan by calling (616) 774-2345 or online at silentobserver.org.