Police were called to a home at 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning where an African Rock Python had killed 5-year-old Connor Barthe and his 7-year-old brother, Noah.
Connor and Noah were sleeping over with a friend in the home of snake owner Jean-Claude Savoie, in an apartment above the Reptile Ocean pet store. The snake measured between 11 and 15 feet long and weighed almost 100 pounds. It was initially being reported that the snake had escaped an enclosure in the pet store, but police later revealed the snake was kept in the same apartment the boys were sleeping in a specially built enclosure.
Regardless, then snake climbed into the ceiling, making its way into the ventilation system of the building and into the living room ceiling where the brothers were sleeping. Because of its weight, the snake reportedly fell through the ceiling and landed on the mattress where Conner and and Noah were sleeping, strangling them both at the same time.
Savoie slept through this and did not realize what had happened until he got up that morning. “At first, I didn’t even realize. I thought they were sleeping until I seen the hole in the ceiling, everything had fallen and I turned the lights on and I seen this horrific scene,” said Savoie.
Some experts are saying the snake went after the boys because earlier that day, they had been at a farm playing with llamas, goats, and other animals. Since snakes do not visually recognize their prey, the smell of these animals on the boys may have contributed to the snake mistaking them as food.
A criminal investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed at this time, but Savoie could be looking at manslaughter and criminal negligence charges. New Brunswick’s Department of Natural Resources said it was illegal for anyone to keep that breed of snake unless they had a permit from the department. They are currently checking to see if Savoie had that permission. The snake, which Savoie had owned for ten years, was later destroyed by a veterinarian.
The Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton is helping police with their investigation, and manager Bruce Dougan had a lot to say in regards to how snakes like the one that killed Conner and Noah should be kept..