An Indiana woman found with an 8-foot-long python wrapped around her neck had apparently kept snakes at the residence, which was filled with snakes and outfitted for a collection of the reptiles, police said Thursday.
Laura Hurst, 36, was found unresponsive Wednesday night on the floor of a home in the northern Indiana town of Oxford, with the snake wrapped loosely around her neck, said Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley.
The person who found the woman from the town of Battle Ground removed the reticulated python from her neck, but medics were unable to revive her, Riley said. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.
"She appears to have been strangled by the snake," Riley told the Journal & Courier. "We do not know that for a fact until after the autopsy."
The home contained about 140 snakes, about 20 of which were owned by Hurst, who apparently kept them there and visited the Oxford home about twice weekly, Riley said. The home's owner had renovated it to house a collection of snakes, he said.
The reptiles were caged or otherwise secured inside the building, Riley said.
The Journal & Courier reported that property records show the house is owned by Benton County Sheriff Don Munson, who lives next door. He told the newspaper that he was the one who found Hurst. He called her death a "tragic accident with loss of human life."
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"I've given all information to the state police," he said, adding that he was "being fully cooperative with everybody."
Riley said he could not confirm whether Munson owns the home. A message seeking comment from Munson was left Thursday afternoon with the sheriff's department.
Munson told the Journal & Courier for a story in 2001, when he was a county sheriff's deputy, that he bred snakes for sale.