OPINION: Murder victims have names, so stop hiding them

Taurean Snoddy

Taurean Snoddy - Submitted photo

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Patricia Blackwell received the news no parent wants to hear on the night of Jan. 25.

Two people stopped by her house late that night to say her son, Taurean Snoddy, had been in a fight and was taken to Hannibal Regional Hospital. They told Blackwell what had happened and said they attempted CPR on Snoddy before the ambulance arrived.

By the time Blackwell made the trip west to the hospital, her son’s life had ended at age 38.

It was a 45-minute interval between the 911 call and the pronouncement of death. The window wasn’t long enough for a mother to say goodbye.

“I asked (the people who stopped by the house) to take me to him, but we got there too late,” Blackwell said.

Snoddy was found unresponsive by police officers who were dispatched to the 1200 block of Lyon Street at 10 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25. Five people since have been arrested in connection with his death. Snoddy has been laid to rest.

Taurean Snoddy’s name has been absent from public reports about his death. It is standard practice for the Hannibal Police Department not to include names of victims in the media releases in these types of cases.

Once families have been notified, however, HPD officials should make that information publicly available. There is no reason to keep it hush-hush after that. The names will be made public during the court procedures anyway.

A phone call was placed to the Hannibal Police Department at 8:30 a.m. Monday asking for help in getting information about Snoddy’s death. That call has not been returned as of the publication of this story on Monday afternoon.

Blackwell says no one from the Hannibal Police Department has reached out to either offer condolences or ask for any information that could help solve the case.

Asked what she has heard from any public official regarding her son’s murder, she said “Nothing.”

For the second time in four months, a group of people allegedly has beaten a man to death in downtown Hannibal.

For the second time in four months, most of the alleged assailants were primarily of one race. The victim was of another race.

The families deserve answers and justice for the deaths of their loved ones — Dusty Wilson, a white man, and Taurean Snoddy, a black man.

The details of Wilson’s death were horrendous. As more information about Snoddy’s beating becomes available, people again will be shocked by the brutality. However, the gory details are necessary to tell the story of what is happening in Hannibal. Turning a blind eye or sugarcoating death is no way to arrive at a solution.

We cannot become numb to such atrocities. We want them to stop.

Snoddy’s sister, Tanetta Jones, lives in the St. Louis area but was home to support her family after her brother’s death. She definitely wants her brother remembered.

For a town that thrives on a summer full of tourists and spring and fall weekends filled with quaint festivals downtown, these kinds of stories aren’t popular to those who make their living from Hannibal’s recreational trade.

If anyone watched the documentary “Relentless” that was released in June 2021, they saw a six-part series about Hannibal’s dark side. Filmmaker Christina Fontana follows a Midwestern family desperately searching for their missing daughter, Christina Whittaker.

Hannibal now has witnessed two more horror stories in the last four months. While documentaries about the deaths of Dusty Wilson and Taurean Snoddy won’t be available for streaming anytime soon, they need to be discussed. Hannibalians need to work together to ensure a safer future.

Their names should be said. Their killers should be brought to justice.

You can’t be America’s Hometown if you’re afraid to be there when the sun goes down.

Unless that is how we want to act as Americans.

J. Robert Gough is the publisher for Muddy River News.

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