Philip Snider told his family he was fulfilling his dying wife’s wish to visit Graceland “one last time.” But the reason she never came back remains a mystery.

Screenshot/Fox 8 News

As Fox 8 News reports, 70-year-old Roberta Snider was last seen alive at her home in Hartville, Ohio, on New Year’s Day. That was before she and her husband embarked on a 700-mile trip to Memphis, Tennessee.

When 72-year-old Philip returned home without his wife, their family was understandably concerned. That’s when Philip shared his strange account of their trip.

According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Philip initially told their children (and later police) that Roberta had made it to Memphis, but died in their car in a hotel parking lot. He then flagged down an ambulance, and EMTs confirmed that she was dead and took her away. Not knowing what else to do, he then came home.

However, Philip’s story puzzled her family. They knew the mom of two was in poor health, but couldn’t understand what had happened to her or why she couldn’t come home. As CW33 News reports, Roberta’s brother contacted Hartville police on January 9 and asked if they would help locate his sister’s body.

Hartville Chief of Police Larry Dordea told the Beacon-Journal that initially, they accepted Philip’s story of what had happened on the trip to Graceland:

“We talked to her husband who said she passed of natural causes. At first blush, what happened seemed reasonable.”

As police investigated further, they found evidence that Philip had made it to Memphis and checked into a hotel near Graceland. However, surveillance video from the hotel showed that Roberta never set foot in the building.

To make things more complicated, Hartville police were looking into something that happened on a trip to a city hundreds of miles away, with only Philip’s word to go on. What’s more, Philip’s story was full of inconsistencies. Dordea told Fox 8:

“When you’re the only person who knows the truth, and when you’re telling a story and you tell it five or six different ways, that’s suspicious.”

Finally, Philip told the police a very different story about what happened to his wife of 53 years. He said that Roberta died (of natural causes) on the drive to Memphis. So he pulled over and threw her body off a highway bridge (into the Tennessee River) so he could “put her with nature.”

Since Philip’s confession, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee has searched the area near Interstate 40 where Philip claims he dumped his wife’s body. However, Roberta hasn’t yet been found.

Authorities are continuing to search for clues that could help them find her. Though Philip has not been charged with a crime, police have asked the FBI to give him a polygraph test.

Dorea explained to the Beacon-Journal:

“It’s a traumatic time for him, a lot of emotional pain. I’m not ready to clearly support any kind of thesis on this now. We have to painstakingly, methodically sift through the evidence.”

Hartwell police believe that Roberta is dead, but still hope to locate her for the sake of her bereaved family. As Dordea told Fox 8:

“The end result that we’re seeking is finding Roberta, bringing her home, [and] making sure her family has closure.”

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