July 2, 2009 -- Chilling audio tapes of a frantic 911 call placed by a Florida man after his python fatally attacked his girlfriend's 2-year old-daughter Wednesday have been released.
"It's an emergency. The baby's dead," gasped Charles Jason Darnell, 32, of Oxford, Fla., in a call to Sumter County authorities.
Police say Darnell's nearly 9-foot-long python apparently escaped from its aquarium and strangled the 2-year-old in her bedroom.
Barely able to communicate between sobs, Darnell told the operator that his albino Burmese python killed his girlfriend's toddler, Shaiunna Hare.
"Our stupid snake got out in the middle of the night and strangled the baby!" he is heard saying.
Later, referring to his snake, he said, "I'm going to kill the b*tch!"
On the call, Darnell said the snake was about 12-feet-long but later WFTV in Orlando, Fla., reported that the snake was about 8 feet 8 inches.
The news outlet first reported the story Wednesday.
Lt. Bobby Caruthers of the Sumter County Sheriff's Office said the toddler lived with her mother, Jaren Ashley Hare, 23, and Darnell in the central Florida town of Oxford.
The python belonged to Darnell, who did not have a required state license to possess the snake, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told ABCNews.com.
"Basically, the snake was put away last night in an aquarium in a bag," Caruthers said Thursday. "[He] woke up this morning and discovered the snake was missing, ran into the infant's bedroom and saw the snake on top of the child."
Caruthers said the owner stabbed the snake to remove it from the child. Emergency officials were notified with a 911 call at 9:53 a.m. but the child was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after they arrived around 10 a.m.
After it was stabbed, the snake slithered away under the dresser in the infant's bedroom, Caruthers said.
Owner Also Owned 6-Foot Boa Constrictor, Official Said
Thursday afternoon police obtained a search warrant to return to the residence to remove the python as well and another 6-foot boa constrictor possessed by the owner.
Caruthers said police are investigating the situation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The owner of the snake could be charged with neglect, a second-degree misdemeanor, he said.
According to The Associated Press, the Humane Society of the United States said that including Wednesday's death, at least 12 people have been killed in the United States by pet pythons since 1980, including five children.
"We've never had a case like this," Patricia Behnke, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told ABCNews.com.
So far this year, the state has issued about 450 licenses for "reptiles of concern" or venomous reptiles, including Burmese pythons.
Burmese pythons are native to India, lower China, the Malay peninsula and some islands in the East Indies, Behnke said. Since 1990, she said, about 112,000 have been imported into the United States.
Releasing Pythons Into Wild Is Illegal
They can grow up to 10- to 12-feet-long, although Behnke said that in their natural habitat, they have been known to reach 26 feet.
Releasing them into the wild is against the law, Behnke said. But some owners have still freed the snakes.
"It's becoming more and more of a problem, perhaps no fault of the animal, more a fault of the human," Jorge Pino, a spokesman with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told The Associated Press. "People purchase these animals when they're small. When they grow, they either can't control them or release them."