— The brazen daytime murder of a man outside his son’s preschool has police in an Atlanta suburb scratching their heads. Investigators don’t know who shot Russell Sneiderman or why, but they have little doubt that the killer wanted the 36-year-old Harvard-educated accountant dead.
“From our initial investigation, this case seems to be a cold and calculated murder,” Dunwoody, Ga., Police Chief Billy Grogan told reporters on Monday.
Sneiderman, who was known as Rusty, was walking back to his car about 9 a.m. last Thursday after dropping off his 2-year-old old son, Ian, at Dunwoody Prep when a bearded man wearing dark clothing and a knit cap approached him on foot, witnesses say. Witnesses told police that the man opened fire on Sneiderman, striking him several times at point-blank range.
Without a word, the man left the mortally wounded Sneiderman to die, fleeing the parking lot in a gray or silver late-model Dodge minivan with no license plates.
‘Our brightest light’
The murder shocked the small city of Dunwoody and Sneiderman’s relatives and friends back in Ohio, where he grew up. On Monday, his brother Steve announced a reward of $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction of whomever killed the husband and father of two.
“My niece and nephew will never know their father. My sister-in-law had an entire lifetime of dreams ripped from her,” Steve Sneiderman told reporters when police released a composite sketch of a suspect on Monday.
“Our whole family has lost its brightest light, and we don’t know why,” he added.
Police are hoping the answer to the question “why” will lead them to the “who.” Because of the nondescript clothing the killer wore, the possibility his beard was fake, and the lack of markers on the getaway vehicle, police are operating under the assumption that Sneiderman was marked for death.
The chief operating officer of a company that manages and franchises day care centers, Sneiderman had a long and impressive resume in the financial sector and as an entrepreneur. He, his wife Andrea, son Ian and daughter Sophia lived in a five-bedroom home with three garages on a quiet street in Dunwoody.
When the recession hit in 2008, Sneiderman lost his gig providing financial advice to “high-end” clients of the Atlanta division of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Private Bank, a friend told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Since receiving his MBA from Harvard Business School, however, Sneiderman was never out of work for long and was known to juggle two or three different ventures simultaneously.
According to his obituary, he was developing a product for the entertainment industry at the time of his death.
Lots of work, few leads
Hoping to develop a motive that could lead them to the killer, police are interviewing relatives, friends and business associates of both Russell and Andrea Sneiderman. The couple met while students at Indiana University, married, and moved from Ohio to Boston to Los Angeles before finally settling just north of Atlanta.
The state of Georgia certified Russell Sneiderman as an accountant in 2004, according to the secretary of state’s website.
Homicide detectives from the Dunwoody police force will have a long list of potential friends, family and associates to interview. Between them, the Sneidermans have well over 500 friends on Facebook alone, and they each list a half-dozen recent positions and associations on a professional networking website where they maintained public profiles.
According to his Facebook profile, Russell Sneiderman was a fan of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the music of The Ruse and Cleveland, Ohio. His obituary says he also enjoyed boating and skiing.
Sneiderman was buried Sunday in North Atlanta.