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Posted by W von Papinešu on January 09, 2003 at 20:36:18:
THE HERALD (Rock Hill, S Carolina) 09 January 03 Suspects in snake snatching arrested (Tim Eberly)
York County authorities arrested two Rock Hill men Wednesday in connection with the theft of a deadly African snake from a local pet shop.
Stephen G. Hefley, 24, of 1734-207 India Hook Road was charged with third-degree burglary and petty larceny after investigators found the snake in his home. Hefley's friend, 21-year-old Randolph Scott Coley of Rock Hill, is facing the same charges. Wednes-day night, both men were awaiting bond at the York County Detention Center.
At 4:30 p.m., Rock Hill police forwarded an anonymous tip to the York County Sheriff's Office about the venomous Gaboon viper, which was taken from Herp-Aqua on Tuesday afternoon. An anonymous caller told police a man named "Craig" -- Hefley's middle name is Graig -- who lived in the Village Station Apartments had a snake that fit the Gaboon's description, Lt. Rusty Helms said.
Maggart and Helms went to the complex at 5:30 p.m. and located Hefley's apartment. The suspect answered the door, and told officers he had recently purchased a snake.
The investigators found the snake, valued at $200, on a nightstand in Hefley's bedroom. It was still in a small acrylic box, and a lamp and digital clock were sitting on top of the box.
Though their investigation, the officers determined the two men went to the salt water fish and reptile store about 3 p.m. Tuesday. The store is closed Monday through Wednesday, but the door was open because a store employee had left for a brief period.
The suspects realized the store was closed and went to their vehicle. After sitting in the parking lot, they decided to return.
They found a key in the store that unlocked a room where the 10-inch snake was held, Helms said.
Wednesday night, the snake was safe and being held at the detention center. Officers planned to return it to the store this morning.
Though Hefley fed the snake a mouse Tuesday night, Helms said the suspects did realize it was venomous.
"They didn't handle it," he said. "They were afraid to handle it."
The store's owner, Adamm Smith, offered a monetary reward Tuesday night for any information leading to the recovery of the snake.