Python kills Sumter County child

July 2nd, 2009 by

My Fox Tampabay
OXFORD – An 8-foot, 5-inch Burmese python — an exotic family pet — slithered from its pen and killed a toddler in Sumter County this morning, an encounter so unusual that experts figure it is a tragic first for Florida.

Investigators said the snake had escaped twice that evening, killing the little girl the second time.

According to deputies, Jaren Ashley Hare, 21, and her 2-year-old daughter Shaiunna shared the home on County Road 466 with Jaren’s boyfriend, Charles Jason Darnell.

Darnell, 32, told investigators that he put the snake in a bag inside its pen last night. But when he woke up around ten o’clock this morning, the snake was gone. He rushed to Shaiunna’s room and found it was wrapped around the child.

“He advised us that he took out his knife and just started repeatedly stabbing the snake until he was able to remove the child away from the snake.”

Darnell then called 911 for help.

That was 9:43 a.m.

First responders arrived within ten minutes and found was Shaiunna dead. In addition to evidence of she was strangled, investigators said the toddler had been bitten on the head.

The girl’s body was removed from the home just after noon.

The medical examiner’s office will perform an autopsy Thursday to determine exactly what killed the child, sheriff’s office spokesman Bobby Caruthers said.

Darnell and Hare were taken to the sheriff’s office for questioning.

“They are very distraught,” Caruthers said, noting that the two are “very cooperative.”

Caruthers said Darnell admitted that the snake escaped the first time at 12:30 a.m. and that he returned it to same cage from which it escaped.

“We’re going to be investigating it to see if there’s any neglect on their part,” Caruthers said.

Two other children were also in the home at the time. They were unharmed.

Florida Wildlife Commission spokesperson Joy Hill said Darnell did not have a $100 state permit for the snake, which is a second-degree misdemeanor.

“Burmese python is considered to be a reptile of concern by the wildlife commission, which requires a permit,” Hill said. “And there is no permit for this animal.

Hill said her department is unaware of a non-venomous snake killing a human in Florida.

“This could be a first for the state,” she said.

The snake, which survived the owner’s knife wounds, was found still in the little girl’s bedroom. Investigators removed it after securing a search warrant.

It has been taken to licensed snake-handling facility, Game officers said. A veterinarian will determine whether the reptile will be rehabilitated for euthanized, according to Hill.

4 Responses

  1. long island gal

    They should be more strict to people who have these kind of pets most especially pythons. We shouldn’t have waited for this to happen. Anyway, it is not too late to make this kind of incident avoidable.

  2. kirk

    This needs to be further investigated! My father owned & operated a pet store for over 14 years. Where I was incharge of the reptiles. I have had many snakes over the years,(and have been bitten), But everytime it has been my falt. This snake must have been prevoked into bitting this child. The fact that no-one heard this child scream or cry is unbelievable, when a rabbit is fed to a snake it can be heard almost a block away! I have spoken to two othersnake keepers and the also belive that the boy freind needs to take a lie detector test. HOW DID THE CHILD SUFFUCATE? a constictor snake will only constrict around the rib cage. I personaly think that you are dealing with murder and not by a reptile.

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