She was supposed to prepare a python’s dinner. But to Heaven Richie of Elk Grove, rats are friends, not food.
Richie turned herself in to the police recently after stabbing Michael Hall’s pet snake in mid-July.
She killed the young reticulated python after growing attached to the rats it wanted to eat, said Jason Jimenez, a spokesman officer with the Elk Grove Police Department.
Hall had bought the python only a month before its demise. He had asked Ritchie to care for three rats, which were supposed to become food for the snake, according to Jimenez.
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On July 18, Hall let Richie know that the python needed to be fed. Ritchie, who told officers later that she had developed a bond with the rats, grabbed the snake and ran downstairs to the kitchen.
There, she used a knife to gash the python’s head, killing it.
Soon after, Richie called the police and turned herself in, Jimenez said. She told officers she felt guilty for what she had done, Jimenez said.
Officers found the snake intact but dead in the garbage can and arrested Richie on suspicion of animal cruelty, Jimenez said.
As of Monday, Richie was held in Sacramento County Main Jail with an arraignment date of Aug. 9, according to Jimenez. Richie has been arrested more than a half-dozen times under various aliases since 1991 for unrelated charges, according to the Sacramento Superior Court’s Public Case Access System.
Reticulated pythons can grow up to 30 feet, longer than any other snake species in the world. They can legally be sold across state lines and kept as pets, but have been known to kill pets and small children.