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James Synder, police officer who assisted in 2002 Beltway sniper case

As a police officer, James Synder was involved in the 2002 Beltway sniper case

James Beehan Snyder, a Baltimore police officer who helped identify the 2002 Beltway serial sniper as he slept in the Remington neighborhood, died of cancer Oct. 27 at his Belair Edison home. He was 64.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Loch Raven Village, he was the son of Walter Snyder, an AT&T worker, and his wife, Ella. He was a 1969 graduate of Parkville High School and earned a bachelor's degree at Towson University.

Mr. Synder worked briefly for AT&T before joining the Police Department in 1975. He retired in 2007.

He worked for many years on canine patrols and was later assigned to the Northern District.

In 2003 he was honored for his role in the apprehension of Beltway serial sniper John Allen Muhammad and his accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, a year earlier.

A 2003 Baltimore Sun article quoted Kevin Enright, then director of staff for the city Police Department: "Information provided by Snyder was incredibly important in the arrests. The sniper task force had the names, but that information was not what caught these guys. It was a description of the car and the tags that led to the arrests."

Mr. Snyder had observed a parked Chevrolet Caprice at a Subway shop at 28th and Sisson streets and became suspicious when the car remained there overnight.

"It was Snyder's routine check of the Chevrolet Caprice on Oct. 8 last year that gave investigators the license plate number of the sniper suspects' car, which was registered not in Muhammad's name but in the name of a New Jersey friend of his," The Sun said.

Mr. Snyder was honored by the National Association of Police Organizations in Washington for his role in the case, in which 10 people were killed.

"Jim had the zest for police work," said Officer Steve Sturm, with whom he worked. "He was personable and low key."

After retiring, Mr. Snyder enjoyed collecting pens and watches.

A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Shrine of the Little Flower Catholic Church, 3500 Belair Road.

Survivors include his wife of 18 years, Dena Bands Snyder; a son, James Michael Snyder, and a daughter, Jennifer L. Snyder, both of Parkville; two brothers, Thomas Snyder of Bel Air and Paul Snyder of Catonsville; a sister, Theresa Witte of Eldersburg; and five grandchildren.

— Jacques Kelly

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