(Update: Lisa’s daughter has submitted DNA several months ago, after the article below was published. Her case has been in NamUs for several months as well, and has an assigned detective. Lisa was excluded as a match via DNA from Lebanon Jane Doe of Boone County, Indiana.)
Lisa Ann Snyder Zerby Powell went missing in her early 30’s sometime in 1991. The circumstances behind her disappearance are mysterious. The exact missing date is unknown. One of Lisa’s ex-husbands claims to have seen her in 1991. Her other ex-husband last saw her in 1987. Her daughter has not seen her since 1987. Lisa’s mother last saw her around 1988. I will keep her “date missing” loose, in case she went missing prior to 1991. It is believed that Lisa met with foul play. Lisa may go by just Lisa Ann Snyder, or Lisa Zerby, or Lisa Powell, or possibly even another last name if she has remarried. I reached out to Lisa’s daughter and have connected with her other family members and associates to recreate her time-line and try to paint a well-rounded story, in hopes it will bring in any clues to her whereabouts.
Born on March 4, 1960, in Adrian, Michigan, to Gary Snyder and JoAnn Weatherford, Lisa faced some challenges in her childhood. Her biological parents divorced early on. Lisa was raised by her biological father, Gary, and her stepmother, Gary’s second wife, Linda. Lisa was raised Baptist by her father and stepmother. Her stepmother was extremely religious, but Lisa was rebellious in her religion. This caused some friction between the two. Lisa’s biological mother was Catholic, and she felt as though she had been forced into a religion in which she did not believe.
Lisa’s siblings have not heard from her since around 1989. Her brother Budd Snyder passed away last year. She has another brother named David Snyder of Kentucky who is in contact with Lisa’s daughter. Lisa also has a sister named Donna Snyder (Major). These three siblings are Lisa’s full siblings. After Lisa’s biological mother, JoAnn, separated from Gary, she had two more children, which are half siblings to Lisa: Kathleen Goggin and Michael Goggin. After Gary remarried, he had four more children, which are half siblings to Lisa: Jennifer, Rachel, Rebecca, and Andrew Snyder. The Snyder family is originally from Adrian, MI, but most of them now live in Louisiana. Lisa has nine siblings in total.
Lisa’s biological mother became estranged from Lisa for several years, until Lisa tried to find her. She found her living in Anaheim, CA with a new family she started with a man from Hawaii. She is now known as JoAnn Laca. The last time JoAnn physically saw Lisa was in 1988. Lisa’s aunt (sister of her stepmother) states that Lisa was always a “lost little girl” who craved the love from her biological mother.
Lisa likely attended high school at Valparaiso High School in Valparaiso, Indiana, or at Chesterton High School in Chesterton, Indiana. There is reason to believe she may have attended an all-girls high school at some point. It is uncertain which grade she stopped attending high school; it is said she may not have completed her high school studies. She had one child, a son, David Eugene Rutledge Snyder, on May 22, 1979. She later married Victor Charles Zerby on July 3, 1980 in Valparaiso, IN, when she was 20 years old. They had a daughter together. Lisa’s son tragically passed away without her even knowing. Her daughter is desperate for answers and holding onto hope that she will be reunited with her mother.
Lisa faced some life struggles that led to her two children being cared for by her parents (her biological father and her stepmother). Lisa became estranged from her first husband, and they separated. Lisa then met a man named Kevin around 1985, whom she married a few years later.
In 1986, Victor searched for Lisa and the two children. He found Lisa living with Kevin in Anaheim, CA. Victor took them to court to get custody rights, and she would not let him know where the children were. At that time, the children were staying with the grandparents in Gillette, WY. Victor made two attempts to find the children. The first time the children were hidden in the seat in a van by their grandparents. He was successful on his second attempt, as he arrived with a court order. Kevin states that he and Lisa had lived in Chicago, IL, until they had a dissolution (a form of a no-fault divorce). The last time that Kevin spoke to Lisa was around 1990 or 1991, which was the day she signed the divorce papers. I spoke to Kevin, and he is immensely helpful in the search for Lisa. Unfortunately, due to so many years having passed, Kevin can only vaguely recall some information about where Lisa may have gone after they split.
The Snyder side of her family states they last saw Lisa in 1987, around the time that Lisa’s children were with her at the motel.
Before Lisa and Kevin’s divorce, Lisa tried to gain custody of her two children around 1987. She also allegedly tried again in 1991. In 1991, Lisa signed divorce papers in Anaheim, Orange County, CA. This is where she was last seen. Lisa’s biological mother said that she received a phone call from Lisa from a Chicago hotel in 1991 and that Lisa had been staying in a hotel with some people. Supposedly Lisa gave her mother the phone number to the hotel, but when she tried to call her back, no one knew who she was.
Lisa was allegedly facing addiction at the time of her disappearance and for years prior.
Lisa’s daughter has a very sharp memory of events that happened when she was under the age of 6. She has held onto these memories, as she knew something was unusual.
There was no missing person report filed on Lisa when she went missing; she is an unreported person. Lisa’s daughter has tried to file a report, but because she does not know the area in which she was last seen, a detective has not taken on her case.
Lisa’s daughter was too young to file a missing person’s report when she went missing, and because her mother did not even have custody of her at the time, she did not know her mother was missing from society. All she knew was that she was missing from her family. In 1998, Lisa’s daughter called the Social Security Administration to see if they could provide any clues; she was unable to get information because her social security number was supposedly still being used at the time. It is unclear in which way(s) her social security number was being used.
In the early 2000’s, Lisa’s sister hired a Private Investigator, but there were no solid leads to her whereabouts. The conclusion was that she was likely a Jane Doe, or in witness protection, or that she traveled across the border to Mexico or Canada.
Online records for this Lisa got tangled with another Lisa Snyder from PA, who I checked into; this often happens with online people-finders.
So, what else was Lisa like? Let’s talk about that. Maybe someone has seen her or knows her. Maybe she’s using an assumed name or has even changed her name. It helps to have a well-rounded picture, as every clue counts. Lisa was about 5’1″ and about 100 pounds, with a petite (small) frame. She was known to dress fashionably. She typically used to wear her hair really long, but she also got a pixie cut above her ears in the 1980’s. She had reddish brown (possibly auburn) hair and brown eyes. Looking at her photos, it appears as though she may have some natural highlights and/or undertones in her hair. She appears to have a wide or big smile.
Lisa’s family remembers her having at least two tattoos that they know of. One tattoo was wings, located above her breast. The other tattoo was of a cross, located on her right hand, between her index finger and thumb.
Lisa was said to have a medical condition that would likely prevent her from having more children; although, with scientific advances, that’s not to say she did not go on to have more children. She is said to only have one ovarian tube.
Another distinguishing characteristic that Lisa has is a curved spine. Her family member states that it is visibly curved. It is unknown if she has scoliosis. She also has a cesarean section scar on her abdomen.
One of Lisa’s passions was traveling. She was somewhat of a nomad, traveling from place to place. One of her family members describes her as “street smart”. Lisa also loved writing poetry.
Lisa’s case is not in Namus as of the time I am writing this article. Hopefully, she will have a detective assigned to her case soon. That way, Lisa’s case may be approved into the Namus database. Without a Namus profile, it’s difficult to compare her to any John Doe’s. It can still be done, through genetic genealogy, but not all Doe cases are fortunate to receive such funding. It is good to cover all angles as well.
(Update: Lisa’s case is in Namus and has an assigned detective.)
- Get a copy of the divorce papers to see when exactly she was last seen. A more precise date will help.
- See if a detective can help check for recent activity on her social security number. (Done ✔.)
- Background check (more elaborate one). (Done ✔.)
- Check jails. (Done ✔.)
- Check hospitals. (Done ✔.)
- See if anyone has another photo of her. (Done ✔.)
- Find out when Kevin returned from Japan.
- Was the last day Kevin saw her the day he served her divorce papers? (Done ✔. Seems to be the answer is yes.)
- Did Lisa gather her belongings when she divorced?
- Did Kevin and Lisa live together when their divorce was going on? Where did Lisa live when her court papers were served?
- Find out the address on her court papers from 1991.
Have you seen Lisa Ann Snyder Zerby / Powell? If so, please call your local police station, or call 911. You may also call or text her daughter at 219-707-6224.
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