On July 14th 2015, 18-year old Grant Thompson was found unresponsive in his car, parked outside a branch of Lowe’s in Austin, Texas. A number of exotic animals were found in the vehicle, as well as an empty snake carrier. He was pronounced dead at the nearby St David’s Round Rock Medical Centre. Puncture wounds were found on his left wrist and shoulder, and a subsequent autopsy confirmed that he had been killed by multiple bites from a venomous snake.
Shortly after, the former occupant of the snake carrier was found; a monocled cobra, found dead in the car park close to Thompson’s vehicle. An investigation was launched into the death, that ultimately established that Thompson, who was described as having a ‘history of suicidal ideation’ had deliberately caused the snake to bite him as a means of suicide. Shortly before he was found dead, Thompson had posted a cryptic message on Facebook, simply stating “I’m sorry”.
Investigators pointed out that there was no sign of him having attempted to move the snake away from him after the first bite, and the location of the puncture wounds on his left shoulder and wrist suggested he had held the snake in his right, dominant hand. An autopsy found cannabis and amphetamines in his system, along with the fatal dose of snake venom.
Monocled cobras are native to South East Asia, and possess a powerful neurotoxin that induces paralysis and ultimately in many cases death via respiratory failure. Monocled cobras are responsible for the highest number of deaths of any snake species in Thailand, with their venom often proving fatal in less than an hour.