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Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: What became of suicide hotline counselor who attacked client?

Published: Wednesday, Apr. 2, 2014 - 10:14 pm

In the mid-1980s or ’90s, there was a bizarre story in The Bee about a suicide hotline worker who showed up at the home of a frequent caller to the hotline prepared to kill the caller, allegedly to put him out of his misery. I was wondering if you had any information on what became of the hotline worker.

Rollie , Sacramento

Frank Charles Snyder, a volunteer counselor with the Suicide Prevention Center in Sacramento, was sentenced to life in prison for his brutal attack on a man he characterized as a troublesome client in February 1991.

According to stories in The Bee, Snyder, a 29-year-old sociology major at California State University, Sacramento, was volunteering as a counselor and befriended 52-year-old Benjamin Carlson, a chronic caller to the suicide hotline. Snyder told authorities that other counselors wanted nothing to do with Carlson. In violation of the center’s rules, Snyder made personal visits to Carlson’s home and invited Carlson to his own residence. But Snyder told authorities that the closeness began to strangle him.

On Feb. 12, 1991, Snyder and a companion, who was never identified, went to Carlson’s home, where they slashed his throat and wrists in an attempt to make his intended death look like suicide. But Carlson lived and was able to identify Snyder.

It was disclosed during the trial that Snyder had a history of mental problems that had eluded operators of the suicide hotline, and he reportedly quit taking his medication and began drinking more after linking up with Carlson.

A Sacramento County jury rejected Snyder’s insanity plea.

Incarcerated at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Snyder hanged himself in June 1994.

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287

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