Massena Man Sentenced in Murder of SUNY Potsdam Student


CANTON - Franklin County Court Judge Craig P. Carriero sentenced Michal J. Snow, a 32-year-old from Massena who confessed to the murder of SUNY Potsdam student, Elizabeth M. Howell, to a minimum of 22 years to life. The sentencing took place at the St. Lawrence County Court. The crime, which took place in Potsdam on February 18, 2022, shocked the community.

In a pre-sentencing investigation, Judge Carriero, alongside District Attorney Gary Pasqua and local law enforcement, uncovered that Snow had initially planned to harm former colleagues. When this scheme failed, he decided to draw negative attention to SUNY Potsdam by randomly murdering Howell.

Pasqua reported that Snow had tried to purchase AR-15 rifles twice in 2020 but was not successful in his attempts.

“Had law enforcement not acted so quickly, I believe the defendant would have killed again,” Carriero said.

In April, a grand jury served an indictment on Snow, charging him with four felonies: murder in the second degree, manslaughter in the first degree, assault in the first degree, and criminal use of a firearm in the first degree. Snow initially rebutted these charges.

However, on June 1, Snow admitted guilt to a single charge of second-degree murder.

On the evening of February 18, 2022, an unconscious woman was reported on College Park Road, near the Crane School of Music. The Potsdam Village Police Department responded to the call and discovered Ms. Howell, 21 years old, lying roadside with gunshot wounds.

She was immediately transported to Canton-Potsdam Hospital, but was tragically pronounced dead at around 7 p.m. that evening. This was confirmed by the St. Lawrence County Coroner, June H. Wood.

Last year, the investigation saw search teams combing through rivers for the firearm Snow allegedly used to murder Ms. Howell. The search area encompassed the route Snow is suspected to have taken post-shooting, which started near the SUNY Potsdam campus and extended east on Route 11B to Malone, north on Route 37 to Akwesasne, and then west on Route 37 to Massena.

During the week of August 22, state police divers explored the Raquette and St. Regis rivers under bridges that traverse these water bodies along Route 37 in Akwesasne. Prior to that, in May, divers probed the west branch of the St. Regis River below a bridge on Route 11B.

Snow was apprehended on February 19, 2022, a day following Ms. Howell’s murder, during a police raid at his residence located at 250 Main St. in Massena. Among the items discovered after the raid were two boxes containing over a hundred used miniature nitrous oxide canisters, the inhalation of which can induce auditory hallucinations. An unopened package of these canisters was also found.


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