“The Letter” details journey from Utah murder through grief to redemption

Sep 6, 2022, 10:56 AM | Updated: Sep 27, 2022, 3:04 pm

funeral of utah murder victim zachary snarr detailed in the letter podcast...

FILE: Yvette Rodier and Sy Snarr attend the funeral of Zachary Snarr. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Ron Snarr laughs at the memory before he even starts to share it.

It isn’t a joyful laughter. It’s the kind of laughter meant to mute the sharpest edges of pain he feels when he recalls the last day he saw his son alive.


“I get up and I go out, stretch and yawn, look out the window, see if it is raining or anything,” he said of waking up on Aug. 28, 1996, and shuffling through his Salt Lake City home. “And (Zach’s) sitting there on the couch. He says, ‘Dad, where’ve you been? I’ve been waiting for you.’ He’s sitting there all dressed ready to go.”

Ron chuckles, but his eyes begin to fill with tears.

“I said, ‘Zach, I’ll be right out.’ That’s just the type of guy he was, you know?” Snarr said of his 18-year-old son who was preparing to attend college in a week. “That’s what happened the morning he was gone. He says, ‘I’ve been waiting for you’ …  And I think he still is.”

Ron Snarr isn’t the only member of the family who clings to those final moments shared with Zachary Snarr before a 19-year-old stranger shot him and his friend, Yvette Rodier, as they prepared to take pictures of the rising full moon at Little Dell Reservoir. The random murder shocked Utah and shattered three families. 

Memories sustain family members, years after murder

For Sy Snarr, her son’s last day alive will always be framed by a kindness he offered her. The mother of four teens rushed into the house between work and an evening appointment, and noticed something unusual right away.

“And I’d been gone all day and came through the back door, and I noticed my kitchen was spotless,” said Sy. “And I had not left that way. And Zach was standing right there. And I said, ‘Who cleaned my kitchen?’ And he said, ‘I did it for you, Mama.’ And I said, ‘Thanks, Zach!’ …You know, that was Zach.”

And then she pauses.

“The thing I do think a lot is why didn’t I stop and say, Zack, have I told you today, you’re the greatest?” she said. “I said thank you, at least; I noticed, and I’m glad. But why didn’t I stop and hug him? That was the last time I ever saw him.”

For his older sister Sydney Snarr Davis, that last memory captured her brother’s unique and playful sense of humor.

She was riding her bike home from the bakery where she’d worked between her freshman and sophomore year at Utah State University.

“All of a sudden, I just heard this honking, crazy honking, and I looked up and Zach was driving opposite (direction) of me,” Syd recalls with a smile. “And he had his body hanging out the front window of the car. And he was just laying on the horn and he had his fist up in the air like this victory.”

She raises her fist to demonstrate, and then laughs again at the picture in her mind.

“He was just like, “WHAAA!” … as he drove by, and I remember just going, ‘You’re a dork’,” she said. “And then he just kept going, and I shook my head and rolled my eyes and just kept going home.”

And then she pauses.

“But that was the last time I saw him.”

“The Letter” podcast details Utah murder, aftermath

Just a few hours after Zach made his sister laugh one last time, a man he’d never met opened fire on him Rodier, as they set up camera equipment on the shores of Little Dell Reservoir in Emigration Canyon. Zach was killed instantly, Yvette survived and crawled to the highway where passersby summoned police.

Random shootings were rare back then, and the murder sent shockwaves throughout Utah.

“It frightened a lot of people,” said retired Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Detective Keith Stephens of the shooting. “It was just so horrific. …A lot of times when a shooting first happens, the media other people, it’s a very hot topic for a minute, and then people go about their business and dissipate and go about their business and forget about it…This circumstance where two teenage kids were doing what teenage kids do…They were here enjoying themselves – good, clean, wholesome kids – every parent’s nightmare, every parent’s nightmare. So that’s what I think really sent those shockwaves out.”

The Snarrs and Rodier revisit the agony of that night in a new podcast from KSL called “The Letter” – but only to shed light on the lasting impacts of grief and the realities of trying to reclaim one’s life after it’s been shattered by violence.

And, for the Snarr family, it’s also about a gift they never expected – a letter from the man who killed their son. 

Listen to Episode 1 of The Letter below or here.

Also from KSL Podcasts: 


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


Salt Lake City police say one person is in custody and one person was critically injured following ...

Mark Jones

SLCPD: One person in custody following fatal stabbing

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City police say one person is in custody following a fatal stabbing late Thursday afternoon. Police say they were notified of a stabbing in the area of 1875 S. Redwood Road near the Glendale Golf Course at 5:39 p.m. Once on scene, emergency personnel rendered first aid to the […]

1 day ago

rabies bats...

Mark Jones

Bat found in SLC tests positive for rabies, health expert weighs in

A bat recently found in Salt Lake City has tested positive for rabies. Nicholas Rupp, of the Salt Lake City Health Department, joined KSL NewsRadio to explain why it was tested.

1 day ago

A legal analyst in Utah said that nobody intended a Utah law to be used to remove the Bible from sc...

Aimee Cobabe

Davis schools remove Bible from certain school shelves

The Bible falls under "sensitive materials" as defined by a 2022 Utah law, and has been removed from certain schools in Davis County.

1 day ago

A souring geopolitical relationship between China and the United States is one of the reasons famil...

Hugo Rikard-Bell

China’s soured milk and its impact on Utah’s dairy farmers

Does China have a noticeable impact on the day-to-day lives of everyday Americans? Utah dairy farmers will tell you; yes, they absolutely do.

1 day ago

School is out for many Utah students, which also means families are trying to figure out meals with...

Adam Small

Utah Food Bank needs volunteers for growing demand

The Utah Food Bank says inflation has kept up the demand for food services brought on by COVID-19.

1 day ago

Jude Monson shares a juice box with Remi Monson as they eat bagged lunches from the Utah Food Bank ...

Gabrielle Shiozawa, KSL.com

Utah Food Bank launches summer food program to feed local kids

There are 49 parks, libraries, schools and other community centers in Utah participating in Summer Food Service Program this summer.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Group of cheerful team members high fiving each other...

Visit Bear Lake

How To Plan a Business Retreat in Bear Lake This Spring

Are you wondering how to plan a business retreat this spring? Read our sample itinerary to plan a team getaway to Bear Lake.

Cheerful young woman writing an assignment while sitting at desk between two classmates during clas...

BYU EMBA at the Marriott School of Business

Hear it Firsthand: 6 Students Share Their Executive MBA Experience at BYU’s Marriott School of Business

The Executive MBA program at BYU offers great opportunities. Hear experiences straight from students enrolled in the program.

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and gates.

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...

Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer.

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy.

“The Letter” details journey from Utah murder through grief to redemption