Family of dead Richland teen speaks out

Tyler Richardson, Tri-City HeraldAugust 31, 2013 

Snapp Parents

Aimee Snapp-Reutercrona holds a memorial service tribute to her son Joshua, 17, of Richland, who was shot to death in a field in Richland on July 4. Two teenage friends are charged with killing him. With her is her husband David.

RICHARD DICKIN — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Aimee Snapp-Reutercrona remembers her son as a quirky kid who had a big heart and enjoyed making people laugh.

Joshua Snapp played practical jokes, was an amateur magician and wrote rap songs. The Richland teen's noticeable lisp and youthful good looks made him hard not to like.

Friends tell stories of Snapp's appetite to live life free of constraints. His family knew him as a thrill seeker.

Photos from Snapp's childhood highlight a close bond with his three siblings and the playful personality he was known for.

"He was a goofy kid," Snapp-Reutercrona said. "So intelligent, a deep thinker and lovable. He was friends with everyone."

Friends and family say they find it difficult to comprehend why he was shot dead July 4 -- just nine days after his 17th birthday -- his body left in a desert area off a remote Richland road.

Two Richland teens, Joshua H. Hunt and John C.I. Young, have been charged with first-degree murder for Snapp's death. Hunt, 19, and Young, 18, were acquaintances of Snapp and the three teens were at an all-night party together before the shooting.

Hunt is scheduled to go to trial Nov. 4. Young's trial is scheduled for Nov. 18.

Almost two months after the shooting, Snapp's family and friends still are picking up the pieces and trying to come to terms with their loss.

Snapp's death has taken a toll on his family. His mother and stepfather decided to move, along with Snapp's younger brother and sister, from Seattle to West Richland in order to be closer to family. They previously lived in North Bend, Prosser and Walla Walla.

Snapp-Reutercrona fought for words as she sat in a wooden chair outside her new house. The obvious pain in her eyes quickly became clouded as tears began to form.

"It hasn't penetrated my heart yet," she said. "I will never be the same. Who do you expect me to be now? Everything has been such a struggle."

The images of her son propped up in a casket before his July 26 funeral are still vivid in Snapp-Reutercrona's mind. She struggles each day with the sadness, heartache and anger she feels.

Snapp's stepfather, David Reutercrona, said his stepson's death has left a hole in the family and unimaginable pain for his wife.

"Every day she wakes up and thinks Josh is going to walk in," he said. "Things are a little crazy right now."

Weeks before he was killed, Snapp went to stay with his mother in Seattle and told her how he wanted to change his life, she said.

Snapp battled problems with drugs and sometimes bounced between living situations, family and friends said. He wasn't enrolled in high school and had been in minor trouble with police.

"He was nervous about his drug use and wanted to get clean," Snapp-Reutercrona said. "He knew what he had to do."

Snapp told his close friend, Taylor Williams, the same thing before he was killed. Williams, who considers Snapp a brother, believes his friend was serious for the first time ever about getting his life on track.

"His biggest demon he had was he wanted to have fun," Williams said. "The way everyone around him knew how to have fun was to be on a substance. He understood he was sinning in his own eyes. He was ready to completely quit everything."

Even though his choices occasionally led Snapp down the wrong path, he never lost his sense of humor or the ability to make people feel like he truly cared for them, said childhood friend Chris Lujan.

"He really stuck up for me," Lujan said. "He was a good guy. It hurts. I grew up with him and now he's gone."

The stories Snapp's family has heard since his death have allowed them to stay close to him. For example, one friend told how Snapp held her hand while she went into surgery and was there with a teddy bear when she woke up.

"I am not saying Josh was the perfect child," his stepfather said. "But obviously he touched a lot of people. He had the biggest heart I never knew."

Snapp-Reutercrona will always remember her son as a free-thinker who loved to write and cared about his family, she said. She routinely looks at pictures to remind her of his warm smile and thick blond hair.

She wants to reach out to teenagers in the Tri-Cities who had the same struggles as her son and try to help them, she said. She and her husband may look into starting a youth program.

"I wasn't done helping him," she said. "I wasn't done teaching him or helping him or raising him."

In order to preserve the memories she has of her son, Snapp-Reutercrona and her husband don't plan on attending a majority of either suspect's trial.

"Why put ourselves through all of that?" Reutercrona said. "We will go for (when the verdict is read)."

Snapp-Reutercrona agreed with her husband.

"Joshua is in a safe place," she said.

-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556;; Twitter: @Ty_richardson

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