By Calvin Palmer
A 12-foot pet Burmese python escaped from its glass aquarium in a Florida home and strangled a two-year-old girl this morning.
Lt Steve Binegar, of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, said Shayunna Hare was strangled by the snake in the town of Oxford, about 50 miles northwest of Orlando.
The owner of the snake, Charles Jason Darnell, 32, the boyfriend of the girl’s mother, Jaren Hare, 23, awoke and found the snake missing.
He ran to the girl’s bedroom and found the snake wrapped around the girl and stabbed it to make it loosen its grip and then called 911.
When deputies arrived on the scene around 10:00 a.m., they discovered the girl was dead.
Darnell told the deputies that he left the snake inside a bag that was placed inside an aquarium when the family went to sleep last night. He also owns another six-foot python.
Sheriff’s Lt Bobby Caruthers said that both snakes remained in the house this afternoon and that deputies were awaiting a warrant to get into the home to retrieve the reptiles.
Jorge Pino, a spokesman with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said that pythons are not native to Florida and can easily grow to 10 or 12 feet long. He also said owners need a license to possess a python in the state because of its threat to humans and its impact on the environment if it is set free or escapes.
Darnell does not have the required permit and owning a python without a permit is a second-degree misdemeanor.
Darnell and Hare, who have been together for about a year, were being questioned at the sheriff’s office this afternoon. No charges were immediately filed.