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

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 Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Maryland ruled. His death was accidental, officials confirmed on Wednesday.

Jan. 21, 202201:50

When Riston was discovered during a Jan. 19 welfare check in suburban Pomfret, authorities downplayed the possibility that he was killed by one of the 124 snakes. Some of those 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.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 officials investigate the death of a man who was found dead in his home with more than 100 snakes, including some venomous snakes.WRC-TV

Harris said that among the snakes discovered were 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’s death.

Dianne Richardson, a spokesperson for the Charles County Sheriff, said Riston’s autopsy was conducted in Baltimore at the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Andy Owen, a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Health, told NBC News in an email that their investigation ruled Riston’s death to be accidental and caused by snake envenomation.