Shane Snellman’s body was discovered with a gunshot wound to the neck, “totally mummified.” To hide the odor, it was covered by 70 bottles of air freshener.
Bruce Andrew Roberts was a rich hermit in Sydney, Australia’s Greenwich area. “The eerie house on the corner” was the nickname for his residence. When he died in 2017, at the age of 60, he was a chronic hoarder, and his home was littered with boxes, broken equipment, newspapers, and rubbish.
According to a recent inquiry conducted by the Coroner’s Court of New South Wales, his property also held the mummified body of a man he had murdered in 2002.
Shane Snellman, 39, was the unfortunate victim. He was raised in different boys’ homes after being placed in a Catholic convent as a toddler. Snellman got his start in severe crime when he was 15 years old, when he allegedly killed a homeless man. He was acquitted, but he suffered with drug addiction as an adult, spending time in and out of jail.
Snellman, who was estranged from his family, had just been released from prison in June 2002 after serving a year in prison for narcotics distribution. In October of that year, he broke into Roberts’ house and was fatally shot. Roberts draped a rug over his body and transported it to a spare bedroom, where it remained for the next 15 years.
But Snellman wasn’t the only one who succumbed to the house’s rot.
Neighbors reported seeing mail piling up in front of Roberts’ house on July 21, 2017, and police were dispatched to conduct a welfare check. Investigators discovered him rotting and badly burned atop a live heater.
“He was a compulsive hoarder.” Senior Constable Shane Spencer remarked of Roberts, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“As soon as we came through the front entrance, there were stuff stacked from floor to ceiling.” It was clear that he never tossed anything out.”
It would take another year to track down Snellman. His death was discovered by cleaners clearing the debris-filled property for sale on May 29, 2018. They discovered him with a gunshot wound to the neck, leaning slightly to the left on a couch.
He was still dressed in the same clothes he had been wearing since 2002, the last time anyone had seen him alive. The body was “totally mummified,” according to a post-mortem at the Sydney Forensic Medicine Department in Lidcombe, which gathered DNA samples.
Roberts had placed more than 70 bottles of air freshener around Snellman’s body in “a conscious effort to hide the stench” of his decomposition, according to Tina Xanthos, assistant counsel to the coroner. To identify him, police had to depend on visible tattoos and residual fingerprints.
In addition, police uncovered 19 illegal firearms and large quantities of ammunition in the premises, though the inquest was unable to determine which gun was used on Snellman.
An autopsy revealed 15 metallic fragments in his chest and stomach, as well as residues of methamphetamine, buprenorphine, and amphetamines, according to a toxicology report. The two deceased Australians were described as “strangers in life” who had a fatal “chance encounter” by the inquiry.
Roberts was born in 1956 in Coonabarabran and raised in opulence. Despite being raised by wealthy parents, he had a strained relationship with his sister and began to suffer from mental illness. “A bit weird, a loner, socially awkward,” his relative described him.
“No one has gone approaching the house,” claimed Gayle Meagher, a neighbor. “The inside of the house would have been really terrible.” He was mentally ill and quite reclusive. Everything had been secured. Inside the windows, you couldn’t see anything. We’d just hear or see him outside, always in a thick brown coat, no matter what the weather was like.”
He bought his parents’ Greenwich home and spent his days relaxing. When he died, he had inherited more than $1 million in stock and had more than $600,000 in the bank.
Shane Snellman’s family has finally received closure on his horrific death at the hands of Roberts, over 20 years after he was last seen.
John Snellman, his late son’s father, claimed his late son was impulsive but had a nice heart. One of his sisters recalls seeing her brother behind bars the last time she saw him, but that he has “never been forgotten.” When she learned of his death, she “screamed and collapsed to the floor,” she recalled.
Tiana Snellman, Snellman’s niece, described him as a compassionate man: “He was a really loving man who would do anything for anyone.” He was not deserving of what he received.”