Ben Renick murder: Missouri snake breeder’s death was no accident – CBS News


imageAn unusual “48 Hours” case may change your mind about snakes.Ben Renick , 29, a Missouri snake breeder, was found dead in his facility.At first, everyone assumed he had been killed by one of his snakes, but those assumptions were wrong — he had been murdered.

Snakes, it turns out, are often misunderstood and maligned according to Dāv Kaufman, a reptile expert “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant spoke to for his report on the case.”If you are afraid of snakes then everything you know about snakes is wrong,” said Kaufman.

When Kaufman heard that his friend had been found dead in his snake breeding facility, he didn’t assume that he had been killed by a snake.

His first thought was that Ben Renick had been killed for his snakes.

“So the first question that I asked was ‘How many snakes were missing?’ A facility like Ben’s — it — unfortunately, attracts a lot of bad people, bad people that see these snakes not as these beautiful, amazing creatures that they are, but see them as dollar signs,” he explained.

Renick’s snake business was wildly successful.He was shipping his snakes around the world and traveling to reptile conventions across the United States.Some of his snakes were not just exotic, they were expensive with some worth tens of thousands of dollars each.

“Ben loved these snakes because how can ya not love these snakes?” said Kaufman.

Kaufman introduced Van Sant to a reticulated python, a snake Renick was known for throughout the world.

“They’re big.

They’re beautiful.They’re personable,” Kaufman said as the python wrapped itself around Van Sant.”She’s gonna go right over your shoulder and try to go on the cage behind you.Let’s see if I’m right.No, she’s gonna wrap around ya.”

“It’s my new scarf,” Van Sant joked.

“Oh, hello … sweetheart.How are ya?” Van Sant laughed.”This is a first.

It is a remarkable sensation.”

Peter Van Sant goes inside the world of snakes and the murder plot that revealed Ben Renick’s true cold-blooded killer in “The Poisonous Wife,” tonight at 8/7c on the CBS News Streaming Network.

Download the CBS News app on your phone or connected TV.

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