Oxford, FL–You will have to bear with my as I shudder and twitch my way through this story. You see, I have a terrible fear of snakes. The little-bitty garden variety can send chills up and down my spine, so I can’t imagine ever coming up against a “real” snake, of the 12-ft. and longer variety. Shaunia Hare, 2, was sleeping Wednesday morning when the family pet found it’s way out of a glass aquarium, slithered to the child’s crib, wrapped itself around her body and bit her little head. Charles Darnell, owner of the snake and boyfriend of Shaunia’s mother, awoke to find the snake missing. I can’t imagine his terror at what he found next. He entered the child’s room in search of the snake, and discovered the 12-foot-long Burmese python in the crib, on top of Shaunia. Charles got hold of a knife and repeatedly stabbed the snake until it relinquished it’s hold on the child.
The anguish in his voice is evident in the 911 call: “The baby’s dead!” he screamed. “Our stupid snake got out in the middle of the night and strangled the baby. She got out of the cage last night and got into the baby’s crib and strangled her to death.” Charles told authorities that he had placed the larger snake in a bag and placed the bag in the aquarium the evening before. Whether or not that aquarium was actually secured is unclear. The snake was later found underneath some furniture and was removed from the home, alive. Authorities also removed another snake, a 6-footer.
Though Charles did not have a permit for the snake, which is a second-degree misdemeanor, it is unclear as to whether or not charges will be filed. Investigators are still looking into whether there was any child neglect involved. The snakes have been placed with someone who has a permit, pending the investigation into Shaunia’s death.
Update: 8/25/09 – Charles Darnell, 32, and Jaren Hare, 19, have both been charged with manslaughter, third degree murder and child abuse in the death of Shaianna Hare. According to authorities, Jaren delivered a baby girl a couple of weeks ago – that child has been placed in the custody of relatives.
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