Maryland man dies with more than 100 venomous snakes, some illegal, in his house, police say

POMFRET, Md. -- A Charles County man was found dead inside a home Wednesday evening.

The 49-year-old man had more than 100 venomous and non-venomous snakes, some illegal, inside the home, WJLA reported.

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David Riston, of the 5500 block of Rafael Drive in Pomfret, was identified as the man who died by his daughter and home records.

Officers responded to the single-family home at 6:00 p.m. after they received a call from a neighbor who was trying to check on the resident.

The man was seen inside the home, lying on the floor and unconscious. Emergency Medical Services forced their way into the home and found the man. He was pronounced dead at the scene, the sheriff's office said.

Officials are now investigating how the man died. There were no obvious signs of foul play and the decedent was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy.

Jennifer Harris, a spokesperson for Charles County, said the snakes were well cared for. But now they are bringing in an expert from out of state to help remove the snakes from the home.

Among the snakes found in the home was a spitting cobra whose venom can travel 10 feet.

"They were able to identify cobras, rattlesnakes, pythons, and black mambas, a combination of venomous and non-venomous snakes," Harris said. "They are documenting and removing them now."

Charles County Animal Control Chief Ed Tucker told 7News in his 30 years, he's never seen anything like it.

The snakes were very meticulously kept he knew what he was doing, county officials said.

Animal control has been coordinating rescue efforts relating to the reptiles with assistance from reptile experts from North Carolina and Virginia.

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A woman who identified herself as his daughter, Emily Lopez-Lahocki, wrote a tribute to her dad on Facebook.

"The man, the myth, the legend. My dad David Riston, left the earth [on] January 19th, 2022 at the age of 49 years old. Still in shock. He is genuinely our best friend always making us laugh and keeping the peace," she wrote. "My family deeply mourns a loss today. Will update with further arrangements. I will always love and miss you, dad"

She tagged his Facebook account, which features pictures of snakes and show his interest in venomous snakes and reptiles.