The owner of a 100-pound snake that escaped from a pet store and strangled two young brothers as they slept in an apartment above has described the horrific moment he found their lifeless bodies.

Jean-Claude Savoie, who lives above the Reptile Ocean pet store in Campbellton in New Brunswick, Canada, went to check on Connor Barth, 7, and his brother Noah, 5, at 6.30am on Monday.

‘They were sleeping,’ he said in an interview after the heartbreaking discovery. But ‘they didn’t even open their eyes or nothing. I thought they were sleeping until I [saw] the hole in the ceiling. I turned the lights on and I [saw] this horrific scene.’

 
Tragic: Noah and Connor Barth were killed by a massive python in their sleep after it escaped from its cage

Tragic: Noah and Connor Barth were killed by a massive python in their sleep after it escaped from its cage

 

Deadly: This African Rock Python is pictured on Jean-Claude Savoie's Facebook and could be the one that slithered from the pet shop and killed the boys as they slept

Deadly: This African Rock Python is pictured on Jean-Claude Savoie’s Facebook and could be the one that slithered from the pet shop and killed the boys as they slept

 

He explained: ‘[The snake] went through a ventilation system. I don’t understand how it did it. It went through the ceiling… and the snake fell into the living room from the ceiling.’

Mr Savoie said that the boys were the sons of his best friend, Mandy Trecartin, and that they often stayed at his home, where they slept in the living room.

The night they were killed, he was hosting them at a sleepover with his own son, but the boy was in another room and was not harmed.My body is in shock. I don’t know what to think,’ he told the Global News. ‘I feel like they’re my kids.’

The boys are believed to have been strangled to death by the 100-pound, 14-foot African Rock Python, the News reported, but an autopsy is being carried out today to determine the exact cause of death.

A criminal investigation is also underway but so far no charges have been brought.

 
Curious: Noah and Connor, seen here handling a corn snake called Mr Slithers, were fascinated by animals, a neighbor tells MailOnline. They often stayed at the home where the animal owner lived

Curious: Noah and Connor, seen here handling a corn snake called Mr Slithers, were fascinated by animals, a neighbor tells MailOnline. They often stayed at the home where the animal owner lived

 

 

 

 

 
 
Noah and Connor Barth
Noah and Connor Barth
 

‘Full of joy’: A neighbor described Noah and Connor as happy children who loved playing with animals

Mr Savoie said that after finding the boys’ bodies, he found the snake coiled in a hole nearby, held it down and put it in a cage.

He said he believes the creeping serpent, which he has owned for a decade, slithered upstairs into his apartment through the ventilation ducts and creeped into the ceiling.

It then fell through the ceiling and dropped onto the small boys from above. He said he believes the snake coiled around both children and crushed them as they slept together on the floor.

The snake is not usually handled by anyone in the store and Mr Savoie said he does not know how it escaped its cage in the pet shop.

‘How he got loose, I don’t know,’ a former employee, Tim Thomas, told theNational Post.‘Because ever since Jean-Claude got full custody of his child, every cage had two locks on it, and one of them was a master lock and the keys to that were hung up in the laundry room.’

THE SNAKE KNOWN TO DEVOUR WHOLE ANTELOPES IN THE WILD

The brothers are believed to have been killed by an African Rock Python, Africa’s largest snake. The reptile can grow as long as 20ft and as heavy as 200lbs.

In the wild, it is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa and in 2009, six of the snakes were found in the Florida Everglades.

It constricts its prey to death and has been known to devour whole antelopes or crocodiles. After gripping the prey, the snake coils around it and tightens its coils every time the prey exhales; death is often caused by cardiac arrest rather than by asphysxiation. As well as larger animals, it feeds on rodents, lizards, monkeys and bats.

The snake, which has brown, olive chestnut and yellow markings, is recognizable by its thick body which is covered with colored blotches that create stripes. It has a distinctive triangular pattern along the top of its head and beneath its eyes.

He added: ‘Jean-Claude loved them kids and he would have never, ever put them in danger at all.’

Reptile Ocean is home to a veritable menagerie of exotic animals, including crocodiles, tarantulas, tortoises and numerous snakes.

The Post reports that the snake was a 14 to 16-foot African rock python that even its owner said was ‘vicious’ and was rarely handled.

Tim Thomas, a former Reptile Ocean employee, told the newspaper that when he learned of the tragedy, he immediately called Mr Savoie’s best friend, Mandy Trecartin, who told him it was her boys who were killed.

Neighbor Diane Fournier confirmed to MailOnline that it was Connor and Noah who had been killed.

She described how she often saw the brothers happily playing together outside. They were fascinated by animals, she said, and often came over to pet her dog.

‘The kids were always playing and laughing. They were really full of joy and lots of energy,’ she said.

Facebook photos show both of the boys handling a small corn snake – called Mr Slithers – owned by their mother,a teleservices agent at Service New Brunswick, a local government agency.

Ms Fournier told MailOnline that Mr Savoie operated Reptile Ocean as both a pet shop and as a zoo. He kept numerous snakes and lizards and small crocodiles to sell, but he hosted tour groups.

‘He always had kids going in there to visit like school kids and groups,’ she said.

Ms Fournier said she she herself has touched the snake that is believed to have killed the boys. He often showed it off and kept it in a locked cage, she said.

The horrifying deaths of the two children shocked residents of the small city of 7,400 in northern New Brunswick.

‘It’s very nerve-wracking. If one got out, how many else got out,’ Ms Fournier said.

Lisa Janes, a co-owner and curator of Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo, a private zoo and education program in Ontario, said that snakes do not usually regard humans as food.

‘They attack because they’re feeling scared or threatened, or because they smell food,’ she told CBC, adding: ‘We were absolutely shocked and saddened. Our condolences go out to the family.’

Police said an autopsy on Tuesday will confirm the exact cause of death, though officials believe the boys were crushed to death by the snake.

Mr Savoie said he captured the snake and turned it over to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who are examining the creature.

An RCMP spokeswoman said the major crimes unit is investigating the case and will determine whether any criminal charges should be filed against the owner. So far none have been brought.

In a Facebook message, staff at Reptile Ocean wrote: ‘Deepest sympathies goes out to the family of the children. A terrible accident without a meaning.’

 

The snake in question was an African Rock Python, said to be 14 to 16 feet long. Even the owner admitted it was 'vicious.'

The snake in question was an African Rock Python, said to be 14 to 16 feet long. Even the owner admitted it was ‘vicious’

Big snake: This anaconda is believed to be one of the very large snakes Jean-Claude Savoie kept at his Reptile Ocean pet shop

Big snake: This anaconda is believed to be one of the very large snakes Jean-Claude Savoie kept at his Reptile Ocean pet shop

 
Collection: Savoie has a variety of animals at the store, including crocodiles, tortoises and tarantulas

Collection: Savoie has a variety of animals at the store, including crocodiles, tortoises and tarantulas

 

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