Henry “Bud” Snyder was the Wayne County Sheriff when 11-year-old Elissa Self-Braun’s body washed up on the bank of the St. Francis River in Southeast Missouri. He’s retired now, but says he promised he would see her killer die for what he did. 

Snyder says the execution of Martin Link in Bonne Terre was a first for him.

“I was a little surprised it was so peaceful for him,” he says. “I guess I was hoping he’d suffer a little more, to be honest.”

Martin Link was executed by lethal injection Wednesday morning at 12:01 a.m., just after midnight. He was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m.

Snyder says throughout his years in law enforcement, the Self-Braun case was one of the worst he’s worked on. He says years of working in law enforcement never desensitized him to tragedies involving children.

“I was always thought, and you know I’ve got grandchildren and great grandchildren, I always thought that we was, in our job and in our heart, we was supposed to protect the children, and it kind of gets to you to see something like that,” he says. “Especially after the … seeing that little old body there in that drift, and then seeing her on the slab and all this, it gets to you, or it did me.”

He says just before the execution, Elissa’s mother showed him a picture of her the last time she was alive. He says that’s not the image he’s lived with for the past 20 years.

“I was on the most of the bad part,” he says. “The body and … the that part was what I seen more than anything.”

He says he hopes seeing Link die for what he did brought some closure to the family, and says it brought some closure for him too.

“I got home about two o’clock in morning (after the execution), and went to cross that bridge — every thim I cross that bridge I think about her — and I thought it was a little bit easier last night,” he says.

Snyder says he waited around for a while hoping to see the Braun family, but didn’t get a chance to visit with them afterwards. He says he wanted to say something to Pamela, Elissa’s mother.

“You know, I’m a Christian, and later on after I got home, I regretted not telling her that she would be reunited with her in heaven.”

AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports [Mp3, 1:18 min.]