Published: Friday, Apr. 16, 2010 / Updated: Friday, Apr. 16, 2010 06:24 PM
Rock Hill motel snake attack goes global + video
Owner says python is gentle, would not strike out
By Kimberly Dick and Shannon Greene – email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Who knew who Jeffery Culp was two days ago?
Now, the 47-year-old Rock Hill man who was allegedly assaulted by a snake-wielding man earlier this week is grabbing attention across the country and on the Internet.
Culp, who said he was bitten in the face by a python being held by a neighbor at a Rock Hill motel, the Executive Inn, was expected to be on a Chicago-area radio station talk show Friday morning.
“I didn’t ask for any of this,” Culp said. “I didn’t want it.”
Police reports say 29-year-old Tony Smith of Rock Hill hit Culp with his 4-foot long python after Culp asked him to turn his music down. Smith, however, claims that never happened.
Rock Hill also is getting added attention. Known elsewhere as the place where a kid was arrested for opening his Christmas presents early and where a 75-year-old grandma was Tasered, the city now can add this to the list of stories people everywhere get to hear.
Rock Hill Police Lt. Brad Redfearn said he was fielding calls all day after this story first appeared Wednesday morning at Heraldonline.com. He said he received requests from news agencies across the United States.
The story appeared on the BBC, www.thesmokinggun.com and countless publications and blogs.
Culp finally got a good night’s rest Wednesday after an encounter with a snake police say was held by Smith. Culp, who is deathly afraid of snakes, said having the python that close to his face nearly gave him a heart attack.
Culp says Smith tapped him on the shoulder while he was on the balcony of the Rock Hill motel and put the 4-foot-long python in his face. Smith had squeezed the snake’s mouth open so the teeth were showing, Culp said.
Yet Smith said Friday that the snake never touched Culp.
“If that snake would have bit him where (Culp) said it bit him, it would have been a whole lot worse,” Smith said. “The snake has about 100 teeth.”
Smith was pet sitting for a friend at the time of the altercation. The pet’s owner, Tim Villejoin, said the snake has never lashed out at anyone.
“I’ve had that snake for 12 years and he’s never hurt anybody,” Villejoin said, adding children around the hotel often play with Moudkaii the python. “He’s a gentle snake, even a little sluggish.”
See video of Moudkaii here.
Although Smith is back staying a few doors down in the inn on North Anderson Road, Culp said he’s not afraid.
“He hasn’t said anything to me since he got out (of jail on bond),” Culp said.
Smith, who was charged with assault and battery, was released from jail on a $1,092 bond.
Smith claims he’s more a victim than Culp.
“Because of what (Culp) told police, I got arrested and had to use all my money to bail myself out of jail,” said Smith, who added that he has to move out because he can’t afford next week’s rent.
Part of Smith’s bond restrictions prohibit contact with Culp, but Culp said he’d be willing to drop the charges if Smith wrote a note apologizing for the incident.
“He’s a dumb, stupid kid,” Culp said, “but I don’t want him to go to jail.”
His wife, Nancy Culp, said she still can’t believe that someone would do that. She adds they are forgiving Christians.
But Smith refuses to write the note.
“Hell no, I’m not writing anything,” Smith said. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”