On an ordinary day, the Gwynedale townhome community resembles an ideal suburban neighborhood, with residents jogging, walking their dogs or working on their homes.
Last Thursday, however, the tightly knit community was turned upside-down as police and state officials descended upon Browning Court.
“I didn’t know what happened. I just saw the police and people in suits,” said a neighbor who lived a few homes away.
As the days passed and word spread, residents of Browning Court were shocked to learn that their neighbor, David Rapoport, had been arraigned and charged with two counts of murder in the death of his former co-worker, Jennifer Snyder.
Snyder, who was two months pregnant at the time of her murder, was found dead in a wooded area near the Trexler Nature Preserve in North Whitehall Township last week.
“The police talked to him for about three hours, then took [Rapoport] and his car away,” said a neighbor, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The neighbor said that since the police had left, no one had entered the home. They speculated that David’s wife, Elizabeth, may have gone to stay with her family in light of the charges her husband is currently facing.
“They were friends of ours, and we spent some time with them socially, but not a lot. To think a person could go to such an extreme, it blows my mind…it just blows my mind,” the neighbor added.
Many on Browning Court were still in a state of shock Tuesday, and were reluctant to speak about the family or the charges. Many declined to be interviewed, but a few agreed, so long as their names weren’t used.
“We were really wondering what was going on. We’re not used to seeing the police around here,” said another neighbor who had just learned of the charges.
“They were a normal couple. I mean, David is really quiet, and I’d see him walking his dogs, and I’d talk to him every now and then. I would never have expected this. I’m just shocked!” the neighbor added.
This area of Gwynedale has a tainted history.
The 1200 block of Browning Court is where Paul J. Bellina shot and killed Craig Holtzman, 31, on Sept. 13, 2000. Bellina was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in March 2002 and sentenced to six to 20 years in prison.
According to criminal documents, Holtzman was sleeping in his basement after returning home from a night out drinking. He left the basement to go outside to urinate.
He mistakenly attempted to enter the basement of Bellina’s home at 1239 Browning Court through a sliding glass door when returning from outside. The Bellina home was the adjoining townhome.
Bellina armed himself with a Ruger P-85 semi-automatic handgun and investigated the burglar alarm in his home.
He found Holtzman, naked, trying to open the locked sliding glass door to the basement, according to court testimony.
Bellina opened the door, and ordered Holtzman to raise his hands and get down on the ground, but Holtzman walked into the basement. According to court records, Bellina shot Holtzman twice in the arms and pursuing him as he walked out, shot him six more times, striking him in the face, head and back.
A woman who was exiting her car said that she didn’t know the Rapoport family, but that “anytime you hear of a murder, it’s shocking.”
All neighbors interviewed described David Rapoport as a quiet, shy man who spent the majority of his time working. It was repeatedly stated that the family kept to themselves, but that they were kind in passing.
Many were left searching for words, while others appeared stunned.
“It’s a wonderful neighborhood, but like anything with high density housing, you’ll have problems, including problems that you never knew about,” said a neighbor.
“I feel like one of the people on the news whose neighbor was killing babies, and yet all I could say was I never would have expected it,” the neighbor added.