Bite from pet snake suspected in death of NY woman

June 16, 2011 3:44:07 AM PDT
New York authorities are investigating the death of a woman who was possibly bitten by one of the many pet snakes she kept in her home with her live-in boyfriend.

Wednesday night, the victim's boyfriend left the Putnam Lake home escorted by a friend who drove him away.

What he's leaving behind is a house that investigators say was packed with dozens of snakes.

Many of them are big and venomous.

According to investigators, one of them, an African Black Mamba, may have delivered the fatal bite that killed the victim.

One by one, the snakes were taken out of the home.

"The rumors are rampant about snakes and death," said Frank LaBanca, a neighbor.

What neighbors are learning now is that they aren't rumors.

Police say 56-year-old Aleta Stacey was found dead in the home.

Investigators believe she had been handling the 5-foot-long extremely poisonous Black Mamba before her death.

Investigators found snake bite wounds on her forearms.

Her boyfriend, Vito Caputo, called police shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday after finding his girlfriend unresponsive and cold.

"I saw them load probably at least 10," said Ellen King, a neighbor.

Neighbors watched as handlers loaded the snakes into trucks.

There were 75 snakes in all found inside the home.

An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday night, but results could take several days.

The snakes were removed from the home and taken to the Bronx Zoo.