Officials still mum on details of fatal fire, murder-suicide

Investigators are hoping this week to positively identify the man who perished last Monday in a cabin fire on Norton Road near Forksville.

Sullivan County Coroner Wendy Hastings said a pathologist at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital is reviewing dental records believed to be those of the victim who perished in the 10:45 a.m. blaze, which was in Forks Township, about four miles north of Forksville.

The intense fire burned out of control for nearly 90 minutes and destroyed the cabin, a garage and an outbuilding.

A state police fire marshal is investigating the fire but, as of Sunday night, no news release had been issued.

However, Ronald Jarocha, the fire marshal leading the investigation, told the Daily Review in Towanda that the damage left by the fire was so extensive that it is very likely the cause may never be known.

“I don’t see anything suspicious right now,” he told The Review.

Concerning another local investigation – the suspected murder-suicide in Hepburn Township on Feb. 21 – Lycoming County Coroner Charles E. Kiessling Jr. said Friday that it likely will be several weeks before his office is prepared to release anything official on the deaths of Seth A. Snyder, 42, and his former 38-year-old girlfriend, Cherilyn R. Kephart.

Old Lycoming Township police believe the two perished in a fire that Snyder set in Kephart’s Toyota soon after she arrived at Snyder’s parents’ farm at 2405 Route 973 about 11:30 p.m.

Snyder and Kephart have been estranged since Oct. 20 when Snyder was arrested on charges of allegedly beating Kephart with the butt of a rifle in the home they shared at 1808 Rose Valley Road, also in Hepburn Township, police said.

Initially jailed on $90,000 bail on assault-related charges, Snyder was released on Dec. 7 on “intense supervised bail,” which required that he wear an electronic monitoring device on his ankle.

Kephart had obtained a protection from abuse order against him, and the two were to have no contact with one another except when exchanging custody of their children, ages 2 and 3, which they shared, police said.

Kephart remained at the couple’s home while Snyder moved in with his parents, police said. Kephart had come to the farm to pick up the children minutes before her death, police said.

Autopsies were completed, but Kiessling said he is awaiting the results of several lab tests before releasing any additional information. He did say that there was no evidence that Snyder or Kephart suffered any gunshot wounds.