Orange County News

Hundreds of snakes found at Santa Ana home

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Santa Ana police served a search warrant Wednesday at a home after neighbors complained about a foul odor. Inside, they discovered hundreds of snakes -- most of which were dead -- as well as live mice and rats.

Authorities say the home in the 2900 block of Fernwood Drive had about 350 ball pythons in deplorable conditions. They were stored in bins that were stacked on top of each other on racks. In all, officials said there were 182 snakes alive and 240 dead.

"Some (were) in boxes, some in crates and some crawling around," said Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

Along with the snakes, live and dead rats and mices were found in the home.

"We have rats that are dead in the cages with the live rats," said Sondra Berg of Santa Ana Police Animal Services. "They've actually become cannibal and eat each other."

The homeowner, identified as 53-year-old William Fredrick Buchman, is in custody for animal cruelty. He is a sixth-grade teacher in Newport Beach, and he has lived at the house on Fernwood Drive his entire life.

Investigators say Buchman is a hoarder and may have lost his grip on reality when his mother died three years ago.

"He started to really spiral downhill in 2011 when she passed away, and it started the hoarding and it just got out of control," said Berg.

Police say they have been called to the house before, and over the past month, they've been called to the house four times because of the odor. Several months ago, Buchman let officers in to the front room, and at that time, the snakes appeared to be healthy.

Officials say they will be looking into whether Buchman was selling the snakes from his house without a proper permit.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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