Murder at Snyder’s Store

Photo | www.gaithersburghistory.com Snyder’s Store at the intersection of Darnestown and Quince Orchard served as a general store, antique store and gas station.

Photo | www.gaithersburghistory.com
Snyder’s Store at the intersection of Darnestown and Quince Orchard served as a general store, antique store and gas station.

Today, the intersection of Darnestown Road and Quince Orchard Road is a busy center of commerce. On one corner is Quince Orchard High School, on the other corners are banks, gas stations and shopping centers.

The intersection has not always looked like this. In fact, as recently as 1963 the only structure at the intersection was Snyder’s Store. It was a ramshackle old building that served as a general store, antique store and gas station. At that time, Darnestown Road was one of the few direct routes to Frederick. General stores were spaced along the road from just outside of Rockville all the way to Frederick and Point of Rocks.

Donald Snyder was a reclusive 67-year-old man who owned a great deal of property in Montgomery County. He owned two farms at Bucklodge, a home on Longdraft Road, a substantial amount of property where the old Washingtonian Motel once stood on Shady Grove Road, and the 10 acres where his store stood—now the Potomac Valley Shopping Center. Even though he owned several homes, he preferred to live in the back of the store with his brother and sister-in-law.

Snyder’s Store was best known for its wide variety of antiques and unusual items that were on shelves in the cluttered shop. Snyder seemed to know where everything was and haggled with customers over prices.

On Dec. 23, 1963, it was snowing heavily. A customer entered the store about noon and asked for a pack of cigarettes. As Snyder turned to get the cigarettes the customer drew a gun and shot him in the back of the head.

At the same time another customer, seeking to buy gasoline, pulled into the parking lot and saw a young man run from the store and get into a 1957 Oldsmobile. The customer entered the store and found Snyder lying behind the counter. He called the police and he was able to remember the license number and description of the car. Less than $100 had been stolen from the cash register. Police determined that the car was owned by a woman living in Dickerson who had loaned it to her son. By 9:30 p.m. Det/Lt. William Jessee, who would die in the line of duty a year later, and other detectives working on the case had tracked the suspect to an apartment on East West Highway in Silver Spring. Charles S. Stull, 24, a farmhand from Dickerson, was arrested and charged with murder.

Stull stood trial in April 1965, was convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Snyder’s Store was torn down in the 1970s when the shopping center was built. Today, there is a Shell station at the site where the store once stood. The vintage gas pump that once served Snyder’s customers was removed only a few years ago. In the 1960s the building was believed to be more than 50 years old.

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