Hundreds of snakes, many decaying, found in California home

Hundreds of snakes, many decaying, found in California home

Posted: Updated:
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -

The smell wafting from the house was bad, to put it mildly. It was the result of more than 200 dead pythons, 200 still-living snakes, and a rodent infestation.

It was bad enough to send veteran investigators gasping for air. Bad enough to make normally poised TV reporters hold their noses. Bad enough to make much of a neighborhood gag.

"House of Horrors: That's the best way to describe it," said Sondra Berg, supervisor for the Santa Ana Police Department's Animal Services Division after coming out of the five-bedroom Orange County home of elementary school teacher William Buchman.

Click here to see the pictures from this house of horrors

"I mean there's so many dead snakes ... ranging from dead for months to just dead. There's an infestation of rats and mice all over the house. There are rats and mice in plastic storage tubs that are actually cannibalizing each other," Berg said.

Buchman, 53, was arrested for investigation of neglect in the care of animals, police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said, and remained in police custody late Wednesday.

Five months earlier, that smell had driven neighbors to complain about the home, with some of them speculating there was a dead person inside.

"It got so bad as to where my wife would throw up," next-door neighbor Forest Long Sr. said. "She'd get out of the car and run into the house."

Long said he had once been friendly with Buchman, and they would get together to watch televised sports.

But Buchman, who lost the mother who lived with him a few years earlier and had since lived alone, stopped coming around about a year ago, Long said.

"Something changed in Bill, yes it did," he said. "Something triggered it because I couldn't even think that that was going on."

Buchman has not yet had a court appearance or been formally charged and it wasn't clear if he had an attorney. The Newport-Mesa Unified School District, where he works, declined comment, saying it was a police matter.

Police served a warrant on the home Tuesday morning, and found four of the five bedrooms stacked from floor to ceiling and wall to wall with plastic bins on wooden and metal racks, Berg said. The bins were packed so tightly they didn't require lids because there was no room for the snakes to slither out.

There were more than 400 snakes in all — 180 live ones and at least 220 dead ones.

Some of the snakes were little more than skeletons. Others, only recently dead, were covered with flies and maggots.

Bertagna said animal control authorities had tried to work with Buchman for several months after neighbors reported the smell. He said they sought the warrant after they were not allowed inside the home.

Berg said Buchman told authorities he was involved in a type of snake breeding called "morphing," in which owners try to breed different color patterns in the reptiles.

It was a very popular and lucrative enterprise 10 years ago but has declined, she said.

"There was a lot of fast money in it, but now the bottom pretty much fell out of the market because there are so many of these snakes out there," she said.

  • Top StoriesMore>>

  • Man critically injured after behind hit by car in Moore

    Man critically injured after behind hit by car in Moore

    Thursday, April 24 2014 8:19 AM EDT2014-04-24 12:19:33 GMT
    Moore police investigate after man hit by carMoore police investigate after man hit by car
    Police are investigating after a man was critically injured after being hit by a car early Thursday morning.
    Police are investigating after a man was critically injured after being hit by a car early Thursday morning.
  • Oklahoma teens avoid law, risk serious consequences with tattoos

    Oklahoma teens avoid law, risk serious consequences with tattoos

    Thursday, April 24 2014 5:00 AM EDT2014-04-24 09:00:33 GMT
    Back in 2006, Oklahoma became the last state to legalize tattoo parlors, but teens are still not allowed to get inked. That's not stopping many young people, sometimes finding themselves in dangerous situations simply because they can't wait a few months or years to get tattooed legally.
    Back in 2006, Oklahoma became the last state to legalize tattoo parlors, but teens are still not allowed to get inked. That's not stopping many young people, sometimes finding themselves in dangerous situations simply because they can't wait a few months or years to get tattooed legally.
  • Tools track kids' phone use

    Tools track kids' phone use

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 10:40 PM EDT2014-04-24 02:40:03 GMT
    Apps keep tabs on teensApps keep tabs on teens
    With so many teens and kids armed with smartphones, parents can often feel out of the loop and maybe even nervous about how their kids are using those devices. There are now more ways than ever before for parents to keep tabs. We asked the folks at Verizon to break down the best options. Lawrence Ross said, "With Family Base you can see who your children are talking to, when they're talking to them." At $5 a month, Family Base gives you alerts and email updates on exactly how your kids are ...
    With so many teens and kids armed with smartphones, parents can often feel out of the loop and maybe even nervous about how their kids are using those devices. There are now more ways than ever before for parents to keep tabs. We asked the folks at Verizon to break down the best options. Lawrence Ross said, "With Family Base you can see who your children are talking to, when they're talking to them." At $5 a month, Family Base gives you alerts and email updates on exactly how your kids are ...
  • More HeadlinesMore>>

  • Texas teacher accused of taking away second grader's bible during reading time

    Texas teacher accused of taking away second grader's bible during reading time

    Thursday, April 24 2014 5:10 AM EDT2014-04-24 09:10:57 GMT
    A Houston area school teacher is being accused of telling an elementary school student she can't read the Bible in school and is not even allowed to bring the Bible to school.
    A Houston area school teacher is being accused of telling an elementary school student she can't read the Bible in school and is not even allowed to bring the Bible to school.
  • Tools track kids' phone use

    Tools track kids' phone use

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 10:40 PM EDT2014-04-24 02:40:03 GMT
    Apps keep tabs on teensApps keep tabs on teens
    With so many teens and kids armed with smartphones, parents can often feel out of the loop and maybe even nervous about how their kids are using those devices. There are now more ways than ever before for parents to keep tabs. We asked the folks at Verizon to break down the best options. Lawrence Ross said, "With Family Base you can see who your children are talking to, when they're talking to them." At $5 a month, Family Base gives you alerts and email updates on exactly how your kids are ...
    With so many teens and kids armed with smartphones, parents can often feel out of the loop and maybe even nervous about how their kids are using those devices. There are now more ways than ever before for parents to keep tabs. We asked the folks at Verizon to break down the best options. Lawrence Ross said, "With Family Base you can see who your children are talking to, when they're talking to them." At $5 a month, Family Base gives you alerts and email updates on exactly how your kids are ...
  • Georgia governor signs gun law allowing guns in churches, schools

    Georgia governor signs gun law allowing guns in churches, schools

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 1:17 PM EDT2014-04-23 17:17:30 GMT
    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a wide-ranging gun bill into law Wednesday that has critics howling and proponents applauding.
    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a wide-ranging gun bill into law Wednesday that has critics howling and proponents applauding.
ADVERTISEMENT
Bookmark and Share
  • FOX25 Slideshows

Most Popular

Stories
Videos
Compiling list...
  • FOX 25 FeaturesMore>>

  • Tell Me Something Good

    Tell Me Something Good

    Tired of all the bad news? Looking for some good news? Tell Me Something Good, does just that! FOX 25's Mike Brooks finds the good in Oklahoma and tells you all about it.
    Tired of all the bad news? Looking for some good news? Tell Me Something Good, does just that! FOX 25's Mike Brooks finds the good in Oklahoma and tells you all about it.
  • Waste Watch

    Waste Watch

    How are your tax dollars being spent? FOX 25 Waste Watch tracks whether local, state and federal governments, or any groups, are using your money wisely... or wasting it.
    How are your tax dollars being spent? FOX 25 Waste Watch tracks whether local, state and federal governments, or any groups, are using your money wisely... or wasting it.
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by 

WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KOKH. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.