Richard Wayne Snell (May 21, 1930 – April 19, 1995) was an American spree killer and white supremacist, convicted for the killing of two people in Arkansas between November 3, 1983 and June 30, 1984. Snell was sentenced to death for one of the murders, and executed by lethal injection in 1995.
== Background ==
Richard Snell was a member of the 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. He was also a believer in the Christian Identity religion, and frequented Elohim City, a private community located in Oklahoma. 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 World War I Lewis, in .303 caliber), and three and a half bars of C-4 explosives. Much of this arsenal had been stolen.Snell was involved in the filming of planes that landed at Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport in Mena, Arkansas, thought of by Snell and many conspiracy theorists to be used in a government-sanctioned operation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to smuggle drugs into the United States. Snell had claimed that law enforcement agencies, both state and those local to that area of western Arkansas, were involved in the cover-up of the Mena airport drug smuggling. He had also made claims that he had filmed the then-Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, at Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport, but that claim has never been proven. Snell further claimed that one of the Arkansas state troopers who were assigned to the Governor's security team at that time had beaten Snell's wife in an attempt to force her to reveal the location of the alleged video footage Snell had taken at the airport.
In 1983, Snell, accompanied by CSA members William Thomas and Steven Scott, attempted to dynamite a natural gas pipeline near Fulton, Arkansas, without success. Scott was eventually captured and convicted of that crime, while several other CSA members were arrested on various other charges, mostly weapons violations. By 1985, the CSA had essentially fallen into inactivity due to most of its members being either killed or incarcerated.
== Murders and execution ==
Snell, known to his friends as "Wayne", was an anomaly amongst the militants of the CSA, in that he operated autonomously, using the CSA compound as his base of operation. Steven Scott, a frequent collaborator with Snell, gave this information in a federal prison holding cell to one of the then members.
On November 3, 1983, Snell shot and killed pawn shop owner William Stumpp, who he mistakenly believed was of Jewish descent, and then on June 30, 1984, he killed black Arkansas State Trooper Louis P. Bryant near DeQueen, Arkansas. Snell then left the scene and drove across the Oklahoma state line, however a truck driver who witnessed the killing of Officer Bryant followed him, and contacted the Broken Bow police department. The police officers there set up a roadblock, where they engaged Snell in a shootout which resulted in Snell being wounded six times in the abdomen, knee and ankle and arrested. Snell was then returned to Arkansas for trial, where he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Bryant and death for the murder of Stumpp. Snell never denied the allegations made against him, or the crimes he was accused of having committed.
Snell was held at the Tucker Maximum Security Unit until April 15, 1995, when he was transferred to the execution site. Snell's death sentence was carried out on April 19, 1995 at the Cummins Unit in Lincoln County, Arkansas.
=== Oklahoma City bombing ===
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. One theory holds that Timothy McVeigh committed his bombing in retaliation for Snell's execution. However, McVeigh 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.
== See also ==
Capital punishment in Arkansas
Capital punishment in the United States
List of people executed in Arkansas
== References ==
== Further reading ==
Anti-Defamation League (August 9, 2002). "Elohim City: Extremism in America". ADL.com. Archived from the original on April 10, 2007. Retrieved April 19, 2007.
Elliott, Jeff (June 10, 2001). "A Short History Of April 19, 1995, 9:02". Albion Monitor.
Pankratz, Howard (July 29, 1995). "Bombing plotted earlier?". The Denver Post.
Ronson, Jon (May 4, 2001). "Conspirators". The Guardian.