CANTON, Ohio -- A Hartville man who killed his wife and claimed he threw her body in the Tennessee River pleaded guilty to her murder and agreed to reveal the location of her body.
Philip Snider, 73, pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated murder, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse after he admitted to an undercover officer that he killed his wife in their Hartville home.
Prosecutors recommended life in prison with parole eligibility in 20 years for Snider's sentence. In return, Snider agreed to reveal the location of his wife's body in open court Monday.
It all began in January, when Snider told authorities that he and his wife, Roberta, were en route to Graceland when she fell ill in a Memphis parking lot. Philip Snider said he flagged down an ambulance in the area, but claimed he did not know where it took Roberta's body.
But no body turned up at the coroner's office and EMS crews never reported any matching incident.
Philip Snider later claimed his wife's body had been cremated and was returned to Ohio on Jan. 7.
But when detectives obtained video evidence that Philip Snider stayed at a Memphis hotel alone, his story changed.
He said Roberta died as they drove between Columbus and Cincinnati en route to Memphis, so he continued to Graceland and tossed Roberta's body in the Tennessee River from an Interstate 40 bridge on his way home.
Philip Snider claimed his wife had expressed desire to be with nature following her death.
But when the Benton County Sheriff's Office in Tennessee searched the river and its surrounding areas, no body was found.
Detectives later confirmed that Snider had stopped at a gas station off U.S. Route 30 in Wayne County on his way to Memphis, but his wife was not with him like he had claimed.
Before detectives could confront Snider, he was found in his basement following an unsuccessful attempt to take his own life. He was admitted to Aultman Hospital in Canton for an extended length of time.
Officers searched Philip Snider's truck and condominium, where a cadaver dog found a Rubbermaid container concealing one of Roberta Snider's blood-stained sweatshirts in the basement. Tests determined there was more than a 99.9 percent chance that the blood was Roberta Snider's.
Philip Snider produced a third story when confronted. He said his wife died in their Hartville home and he placed her body in trash bags. He said he drove to Memphis with Roberta's body in the bed of his truck and threw her in the Tennessee River.
After Philip Snider left the hospital in April, an undercover Hartville police officer befriended him, posing as a woman who was staying in the area to care for her dying mother.
The undercover officer eventually told Philip Snider she and her mother had a strained relationship and she had thought about killing her. After a few weeks, Philip Snider discussed how the undercover officer could kill her mother without raising suspicion. He also began discussing scenarios surrounding his wife's death.
When Philip Snider proposed marriage to the undercover officer so that she could collect his pension, the officer said he would need to be completely honest with her on Roberta's disappearance.
Philip Snider revealed that he and Roberta had a fight Jan. 2 and she slept on a love seat in the living room of their home.
As Roberta slept, her husband placed a shop cloth over her head and struck her twice with a two-pound stake hammer. He tied a plastic grocery bag over her head and rolled her body in a plastic tarp before placing it inside a Rubbermaid container. He wrapped the container in garbage bags and loaded it into the truck with other containers carrying evidence, including the hammer, blood-stained pillows and a lamp.
Philip Snider said he disposed of the evidence and his wife's body at various locations between Hartville and Memphis. He was arrested April 20.
The Stark County Prosecutor's Office did not say where Philip Snider confessed to dumping his wife's body.
WATCH | Channel 3's Chris Tye listened to some of the recordings of Philip Snider with the undercover Hartville police officer.