A woman was found dead with an eight-foot-long reticulated python around her neck, according to local police.
Laura Hurst was found dead in a house in Oxford, Indiana, owned by Benton County Sheriff Don Munson, a keen snake collector. However, Munton doesn’t live in the house that was found to contain 140 snakes.
Around 20 of those snakes were confirmed to belong to Hurst and she visited the house regularly to see her pets, according to reports in the Lafayette Journal and Courier.
It was Munson who found the 36-year-old’s body on the floor of his home, with the python wrapped around her neck at around 8.51pm local time on Wednesday, police spokesperson Kim Riley told the publication.
While the autopsy was still in progress, he said:
She appears to have been strangled by the snake. We do not know that for a fact until after the autopsy.
Munson told the Journal and Courier Hurst’s death was a ‘tragic accident with loss of human life’, adding that he was ‘being fully cooperative with everybody’.
‘I’ve given all information to the state police,’ he told the publication.
Riley also told the Associated Press that Munson had renovated his home so he could house the huge number of snakes, however they were caged and secured.
Hurst’s attorney, Marcel Katz, said the snakes were important to her and were listed as possessions in her divorce negotiations, according the Journal and Courier.
She had a real passion for snakes, Katz told the publication. ‘That was a big issue for her.’
The reticulated python is usually found in south and south-east Asia when in the wild. But despite being the longest snake in the world, they’re often distributed as pets.
It is among the three heaviest snakes and like all other pythons, is a nonvenomous constrictor. Many people have been killed by the snakes and at least two people are reported to have been eaten by reticulated pythons.
Rest in peace, Laura Hurst.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.