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MI AG Dana Nessel & Newaygo Co. Prosecutor Worth Stay Charge Suspect in 36-year-old Cold-Case Homicide

LANSING – Nearly 37 years after 25-year-old Richard Atwood disappeared from White Cloud, Michigan in Newaygo County, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel along with Newaygo County Prosecutor Worth Stay have jointly charged Roy Leando Snell with his murder. Atwood’s body has never been found.

Snell, 55, was arrested in Minneapolis by the Minneapolis Violent Criminal Apprehension Unit. He 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 currently in custody in Hennepin County Jail in Minnesota.

Atwood was last seen on Aug. 10, 1983; his brown 1975 Pontiac Trans-Am was recovered in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area two months later. Snell was reported as the last person to be seen with Atwood.

“Investigating a cold homicide case is extremely difficult but investigating a decades-old case with no body means an extraordinary amount of legwork, patience and tenacity,” Nessel said. “I commend the excellent work of the Michigan State Police task force, which included Newaygo County Prosecutor Worth Stay and deputies from Newaygo County Sheriff Robert Mendham’s department. We are honored to have the opportunity to pursue justice for the family and friends of Richard Atwood.”

“One can hardly imagine what the Atwood family has felt over the past decades,” said Newaygo County Prosecutor Worth Stay. “These charges are the next steps. I thank the cold case team for their hard work investigating this crime, and I thank the Attorney General for her partnership in proceeding with this case.”

“Working cold cases would be an impossible task without all hands on deck,” said Michigan State Police Detective First Lt. Mike Anderson.  “I’m very proud of the persistent determination shown by the Detectives and Prosecutors over the last two years. The Michigan State Police are proud to once again partner with the Newaygo County Prosecutor, Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan Attorney General to seek justice for the family of Richard Atwood. The arrest of Roy Snell is a very gratifying first step.”  

Newaygo County Sheriff Mendham concurred. “The Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to help bring some relief to the Atwood family. The hard work and dedication of all officers and agencies involved throughout the years should be commended.”

The Michigan Department of Attorney General continues to work in partnership with prosecutors and local law enforcement agencies across the state in pursuit of public safety and justice for all Michiganders.

Snell was in custody in the Hennepin County Jail in Minnesota and recently waived his extradition rights. He will be brought to Michigan for arraignment and subsequent proceedings. A court date has not been scheduled yet.


Please note:  A criminal charge is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The Attorney General’s office does not provide photos of defendants but a photo of Roy Snell is available by contacting Michigan State Police Sgt. Michelle Robinson.