Richard Snell (criminal)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Richard Wayne Snell (May 21, 1930 – April 19, 1995) was a convicted murderer executed in Arkansas for killing two individuals.

CSA membership[edit]

Snell was a member of the radical white supremacist group The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (known as the CSA), which was started in 1971 in the small community of Elijah, Missouri, by polygamist James Ellison. Snell was involved in filming the planes that landed at the restricted airport in Mena, Arkansas, believed by many conspiracy theorists to be used in a government sanctioned cover-up. Snell believed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was using this airport to smuggle drugs into America. He was also a White-racist and a believer in the Christian Identity religion, and frequented Elohim City, a private community located in Oklahoma, created by members of Ellison's organization.

Snell had claimed that the police departments (local and state) in that area of Arkansas were involved in the cover-up of the Mena, Arkansas drug deals. He had also made claims to many people that he had filmed the then Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, at Mena Airport. That claim has never been proven in any form. He further claimed that one of the Arkansas state troopers, who was assigned to "Governor Security" at that time, had beaten his (Snell's) wife in an attempt to force her to reveal the location of the alleged video footage Snell had taken at Mena Airport.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) had ongoing investigations into the organization. By the end of their operations, the ATF obtained 155 Krugerrands (gold coins), one live light antitank rocket (LAW), 94 long guns, 30 handguns, 35 sawed-off shotguns and machine guns, one light machine gun (a Japanese copy of the WWI Lewis, in .303 caliber), and three and a half bars of C-4 explosives.[1] Much of this arsenal was stolen.[citation needed]

In 1983, CSA member William Thomas accompanied Snell and member Steven Scott in attempting to dynamite a natural gas pipeline near Fulton, Arkansas, without success. Scott was eventually captured and convicted of that crime. Several other members were arrested on various other charges, mostly weapons violations. By 1985, the CSA had, for all practical purposes, fallen, due to most of its members being either killed or incarcerated.

Capture and conviction[edit]

"Wayne," as his friends called Snell, was an anomaly amongst the militants. He operated autonomously, using the CSA compound as his base of operation. His running mate, Steven Scott, gave this information in a federal prison holding cell to one of the then members.

Snell's downfall came on June 30, 1984, when he shot and killed a pawn shop owner he mistakenly believed was of Jewish descent. Shortly thereafter, he killed black Arkansas State Trooper Louis P. Bryant[2] near DeQueen, Arkansas. He then left the scene and drove across the Oklahoma state line. A truck driver who witnessed the last murder followed him, and contacted the Broken Bow police department. Police officers there set up a roadblock and engaged Snell in a gunbattle that resulted in his wounding and capture.

Snell was then returned to Arkansas for trial, convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of the state trooper, and death for the pawn shop owner. Snell never denied the allegations made against him, or the crimes he was accused of having committed.


Snell's death sentence was carried out on April 19, 1995. Coincidentally, he was executed on the same day that Timothy McVeigh carried out the Oklahoma City bombing, which destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Snell had been accused of plotting to bomb the Murrah Building in the 1980s. Snell reportedly watched televised reports of the Oklahoma City bombing on the day of his execution and nodded in approval.[3] One theory holds that Timothy McVeigh committed his bombing in retaliation for Snell's execution. However, McVeigh has said that his primary motivation for the bombing was retaliation against the government for its Waco Siege that took place exactly two years prior on April 19, 1993 and the government's handling of the Ruby Ridge crisis. McVeigh never testified as to why he chose the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

In his last words before being executed, Snell addressed then-Governor Jim Guy Tucker:

Governor Tucker, look over your shoulder; justice is coming. I wouldn't trade places with you or any of your cronies. Hell has victories. I am at peace.[4]


  1. ^ Declassified document at
  2. ^ Trooper Louis P. Bryant. The Officer Down Memorial, Inc.. Retrieved on 2007-11-15.
  3. ^ Thomas, Jo; Ronald Smothers (May 20, 1995). "Oklahoma City Building Was Target Of Plot as Early as '83, Official Says". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 11, 2011. 
  4. ^ » 1995: Richard Snell - did he go out with a bang?

External links[edit]