An Indiana woman who was found dead with an 8-foot python wrapped around her neck died due to strangulation, according to a coroner’s report.
The Benton County Coroner determined that the snake was responsible for the death of 36-year-old Laura Hurst who died by asphyxiation, according to WTHR.
While Hurst’s official cause of death is pending toxicology results, Indiana State Police reported that she was found unresponsive on the floor with the reticulated python wrapped loosely around her neck in an Oxford home filled with snakes.
Benton County sheriff’s deputies responded to a call about the unresponsive victim on Wednesday and medics pronounced her dead after failing to revive her in the home owned by Benton County Sheriff Don Munson, a snake breeder who lives next door to the location which reportedly houses more than 140 snakes.
“Local authorities showed up, they rendered first aid, tried to revive the female but she was not able to be revived,” public information officer Sgt. Kim Riley said.
The snake, a type of python native to southeast Asia which is considered to be the longest snake in the world, was found around her neck.
STORY: An 8-foot python may be to blame for a woman’s death in Oxford, IN.
She was found in what Indiana State Police call a “reptile home” with 140 snakes. pic.twitter.com/1I4EgWYStL
— Jordan Burrows (@jordan_burrows) October 31, 2019
Though no one lived in the home, it had reportedly been renovated and was set up for the collection of snakes. About 20 of the snakes were owned by Hurst, who reportedly kept them at the location where police say she visited about twice a week. The snakes were reportedly all housed and stored properly, according to investigators.
Munson told the Journal & Courier that the death was a “tragic accident with loss of human life” and said he was “being fully cooperative with everybody.”
“She had a real passion for snakes,” Marcel Katz, a Lafayette attorney handling Hurst’s divorce case, said.
“That was a big issue for her,” he added, noting that the snakes were part of the negotiations over the estranged couple’s possessions.
“I don’t want to use the word ‘bizarre,’ but I have been on for 33 years almost and this is probably the first time I’ve ever worked with a snake,” Riley said.
Hurst’s friends recalled her passion for animals and that she was experienced in handling snakes.
“She had such a love for the animals she had and took care of,” Dustina Carter told WTHR.
“She knew her stuff. She knew what she was doing,” Cameron Logan said. “She didn’t fear any of them. So, no matter how maybe aggressive (a snake) was during breeding season, how defensive it was, she never let that phase her.”