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Maryland man with 124 snakes in his house died of snakebite, autopsy finds

The 49-year-old man's death was caused by accidental snake envenomation. Authorities previously said they did not think a bite killed him.

A Maryland man found dead at his home alongside over 100 caged snakes died of accidental snake envenomation, according to an autopsy.

David Riston, 49, died of “snake envenomation,” the state medical examiner’s office ruled. His death was an accident, officials confirmed Wednesday.

When Riston was discovered during a Jan. 19 welfare check in Pomfret, authorities downplayed the possibility that he had been killed by one of the 124 snakes. Some of the snakes, found in meticulously kept cages throughout his home, were exotic and illegal.

“Nobody seemed to be aware that he was harboring snakes inside the home,” Charles County spokesperson Jennifer Harris said at the time.

Image: Officials remove snakes from a home in Maryland.
Officials remove snakes from a home in Maryland in January.Charles County government
Image: Charles County officials investigate the death of a man who was found dead in his home with more than 100 snakes, including some venomous snakes.
Charles County, Md., officials investigate the death of a man who was found in his home with more than 100 snakes, some of them venomous.WRC-TV

Harris said the snakes included rattlesnakes, cobras, black mambas and a 14-foot-long Burmese python. Now, one of them is suspected of killing Riston.

Exotic animal experts removed all of the snakes the day after Riston was found dead.

Dianne Richardson, a spokesperson for the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, said Riston's autopsy was conducted in Baltimore at the state medical examiner’s office. Andy Owen, a spokesperson for the state Health Department, said in an email that the investigation ruled Riston's death to be accidental and found that it was caused by snake envenomation.