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Posted by W von Papinešu on August 01, 2002 at 22:19:30:
THE EVENING CHRONICLE (Newcastle, UK) 01 August 02 Snake man death riddle
Neighbours have spoken of their shock after a man was discovered dead in his own home.
Police launched a major investigation after snake keeper Arthur Dufour, 48, was discovered in his house in Engine Inn Road, Howdon, North Tyneside.
Detectives are still investigating whether a break-in to his garden shed, in which pet rats were set free is connected to his death.
The street was sealed off from around 4pm on Tuesday after an RSPCA inspector gathering the rodents saw him lying in his lounge through a window and raised the alarm.
Experts from the Reptile Trust had to remove 10 snakes, including two 11ft Burmese Pythons, although police stress he was not attacked by a snake.
Pal Eric Dunn, 46, of Churchill Street, Howdon, said: "I've known him for about 20 years. He was a smashing guy."
"He used to live in Walker and spent most of his life working as a truck driver but he was diagnosed with diabetes last year and had to give up driving. This is not the first time his rats were set free."
Det Insp Steve Fear, leading the inquiry, said: "We are keeping an open mind into how this man died until we have the results of a post-mortem."
Police say Mr Dufour was last seen at 11pm on Monday, July 29, after a night out. There was no sign of a break-in at his house and no property has been stolen.