Police arrest pet store owner in boys' snake deaths

Python victims were asphyxiated
Python victims were asphyxiated

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Story highlights

  • Pet store owner Jean-Claude Savoie arrested in connection with 2013 deaths of young brothers
  • Connor and Noah Barthe were strangled by a 100-pound python that escaped from Savoie's pet store
  • The boys were at a sleepover at Savoie's apartment above the pet store

(CNN)It was a story that sounded like something out of a horror film: Two young brothers strangled by a 100-pound snake that came crashing through the ceiling as they slept.

But this was no work of fiction.
    It was the all-too-real fate suffered by brothers Connor and Noah Barthe in August 2013 at a sleepover in the home of Jean-Claude Savoie, a family friend who lived above an exotic pet store that he ran in New Brunswick, Canada.
    Though deemed a tragic accident from the outset, the incident nevertheless remained under investigation, and on Thursday, 18 months later, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced that it had "arrested an individual in connection with the deaths of Noah and Connor Barthe of Campbellton, (New Brunswick)."
    Leslie Matchim, an attorney for Savoie, confirmed that his client was the one arrested.
    "It remains to be seen if there will be charges," Matchim said on Thursday.
    A call and email to the Crown Prosecutor's Office was not immediately returned.
    Savoie was arrested in Montreal, where he has since relocated, some 500 miles away from his Reptile Ocean pet store, according to Matchim.
    He remained in custody there Thursday night.
    According to CBC, the African rock python was kept in a glass enclosure similar to an aquarium, but on the night of the sleepover it slithered into the ventilation system. It was above the living room, where Connor, 6, and Noah, 4, were sleeping, when the ceiling caved in.
    Autopsy results revealed that the boys died from asphyxiation.