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Police: DNA testing may have solved 1994 death of toddler John Joseph Snyder, Jr. (VIDEO)

MCPD Chief Michael Lashbrook explains how the death investigation  was furthered by DNA testingwas
MCPD Chief Michael Lashbrook explains how the death investigation was furthered by DNA testing

MASON CITY – Authorities announced a breakthrough Monday at the Mason City Police Department in a long-standing unsolved murder investigation.

According to police:

At approximately 8:18 AM on July 20th, 1994, John Joseph Snyder, Sr. called 911 to contact the Mason City Police Department. Snyder advised that his 20-month-old son John Joseph Snyder Jr., was missing from their apartment.

John Snyder Jr., was the son of John Snyder Sr. and Lisa Sellman. Sellman did not reside with Snyder, who was the primary caretaker of John Snyder Jr. John Snyder Sr. and his son had moved into an apartment, at 10 S. Adams around the fîrst of July that same year.

Police officers were sent to Snyder’s apartment where police spoke with Snyder and began a search of the apartment and surrounding area. Later that day, pajama bottoms and a diaper belonging to John Snyder Jr. were located along WillowCreek in Mason City.

0n July 21, 1994 at approximately 9:56 am John Joseph Snyder Junior was found in Willow Creek just east of the Pennsylvania Avenue bridge. An autopsy was performed by the State medical examiner’s office. lt was determined that the cause of death was drowning and a crushing skull injury. Manner of death: Homicide.

In 1994 DNA analysis was not done on the evidence collected in this case as this technology was not yet available. But on December 2, 2002 the Mason City Police Department was able to submit the evidence associated with this case and obtain DNA analysis. These results were retained as part of the case file.

On December 19, 2012, Michael Jason Cisneros, 37, was transported to the Medical and Classification Center in Coralville, Iowa. Per Iowa regulations as a convicted felon, Cisneros was required to submit a DNA sample to the Iowa Department of Criminal investigation lab for entry in the DNA database otherwise known as CODIS.

DCI agent
DCI Special Agent Mike Krapfl
At the press conference, Agent Krapfl explained how the CODIS system works and the process that DNA goes through upon entering this database.

On January 30, 2013 a Search of this CODIS DNA database revealed a match between the DNA Sample submitted by Michael Cisneros and the profile taken from the evidence submitted in December 02, 2002, namely John Snyder Junior’s pajama bottoms.

On Friday, July i2, 2013, an arrest warrant was issued for Cisneros charging him with First Degree Murder involving the death of John Joseph Snyder Jr.  Cisneros is currently in custody and being transported to the Cerro Gordo County jail.

“Today’s arrest is a culmination of a 19-year investigation into the death of little John Joseph Snyder Junior. Spanning the years of this investigation, numerous people of interest have been scrutinized including Michael Cisneros. I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the hard-working, dedicated Officers, many of whom have retired, for their determination and diligence on this case. Was it not for their hard work back in l994 and since, it would not be possible to bring justice to this little boy,” DCI Special Agent Mike Krapfl explained at today’s press conference.

If you have any anyone has information relating to the investigation, please contact the Mason City Police Department at 641-421-3636.

Most recent jail photo of Michael Jason Cisneros, 38.  Cisneros is already in custoday and headed to Mason City, presumably to later stand trial in this case.
Most recent jail photo of Michael Jason Cisneros, 38. Cisneros is already in custoday and headed to Mason City, presumably to later stand trial in this case.

Watch press conference:


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the REAL tragedy here is the senseless killing of an innocent toddler!!! In NO way will my next few sentences justify/excuse Mike’s behavior… Whatever Mike did to that toddler is disgusting and beyond the realm of understanding.. what is so heartbreaking is the choice he made in killing him vs just letting the little boy go… Chances are if Mike had, he’d have gotten away with murder… At 20 mo old, that lil guys vocabulary wouldn’t have been that extensive, therefore lil John jr wouldn’t have been able to tell anyone… Had Mike just let him go, it wouldn’t have taken any lengthy amount of time for someone to spot the child wandering and call authorities… Another disturbing thought comes to mind- in the 19 yrs it took to find the murderer, makes me wonder how many other children’s lives have been ruined by Mike Cisenros… And 20/20 is hindsight but I truely believe there are a handful of past & present MCPD officers owe John Snyder Sr a very indepth sincere apology… I too remember this case and the cops investigating were pretty brutal..

Cops don’t apologize. You should have seen how they trampled one of my sons’ rights back in the mid-90’s over the Midwest Plastics fire. Took him uptown and raked him over the coals over and over and over and over, until he “confessed”. Truth of the matter was he “confessed” simply and solely to end the questioning/accusations and start the process of going back home. In the end, he had absolutely nothing to do with it – – the real culprit was apprehended. That kind of trauma for a 7 year old who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We never heard back from them. There was good reason to file a civil suit, but my wife and I couldn’t afford to be run out of town. And these law enforcement “professionals” are still employed by the MCPD.

Great job law enforcement. One question: I would like to know why it took over 6 months to bring charges after the results were discovered. I feel the arrest should have been made/announced much sooner. Can the MCPD shed light on this? Again, good job all law enforcement.

Everyone is so quick to find fault with the police dept. Let’s give credit where credit is due. “Cudos” to the police (former and current) who worked on this case. Michael went to school with my son, My brother was a detective on the PD when this happened. Hard to believe that it was that many years ago. So extremely sad and the sadness lingers on. Yes, the parents were believed to be involved, but in a case like this, the closest to the person is always believed to be involved, especially when a child is involved. My prayers go out to his parents for the many years of suffering they went through. I pray this helps to heal and closure for them. You can not judge someone at a younger age to be the same person as a when they are grown-up. Michael appeared to be a nice kid, but look what has become of him as an adult. His parents are victims in this too. They too should be held up in prayer. Again, good job MCPD!!!

This does give hope that Jodi will be found and her killer will be caught.
Someone out there will find out someday. hope it is sooner than later.

I remember this case, TG they can close it. That poor innocent baby boy. Where is the outrage on this one????

He’s not black.

I think what’s funny is that Mike Lashbrook was my local Southeast neighborhood hood. I was just a nice blond haired kid from a good family and Mikey was a few years older than me and was a known hood to be avoided! LOL AND, let’s not even go to the stories of Frank Sterns and his brother on the school buses who defined what it mean’t to be a bully. Too me there’s always been a very fine line between cop and criminal.

Went to elementary and high school with Mike Lashbrook and don’t remember him being anything but a nice guy. He dated a popular girl and was on the football team. But then again, my memory isn’t what it used to be either!

My guess is this will not be the only arrest in this case.

WOW…what a story. Modern day police science, and determination and justice is served. I remember this case, of course a lot of people said it was the dad who did it, and now we know the truth.

justice is served? is he guilty with out a trial?

Excellent job by the police.

Great work.
Would love for something like this to happen in Jodys case

It’ll never happen. The North Iowa Drug Task Force officer that was involved with Jodi’s disappearance, who was staying at the Key Apartments under a false name while his wife was divorcing him, will NEVER submit to a DNA analysis. The MCPD has buried Jodi’s case within the cold case files of the DCI. Sad … but true.

What? Please elaborate!

I’m guessing this is either Maria Ohl or Shane Philpot. Get a life.

That rumor has circulated around for years. Its a North Iowa urban legend. Total BS

Wait and see.

Couldn’t agree with ya more , that’s a case I think everybody wants closer to!

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