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12 years after pet python killed toddler, victim’s mother released from prison

Jaren Hare on supervised probation until 2026

Mother of 2-year-old who was strangled to death by a python is now out of jail.
Mother of 2-year-old who was strangled to death by a python is now out of jail. (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. – Twelve years after a toddler was asphyxiated in her crib by a pet Burmese python that had escaped from its enclosure, the child’s mother has been released from prison.

Jaren Hare, 32, was convicted of aggravated manslaughter and child neglect following the 2009 death of her 2-year-old daughter, Shaiunna Hare.

Hare’s live-in boyfriend, Charles “Jason” Darnell, was also sentenced to 12 years in prison after a jury convicted him of the same criminal charges. He was released in January, state records show.

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Hare declined to comment when reached by News 6 at a phone number associated with Darnell, but Hare confirmed she and Darnell were planning to get married. Both are on supervised probation until 2026.

(Left) Jaren Hare, (Right) Charles “Jason” Darnell (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Prosecutors said the 8-foot, 6-inch albino Burmese python named Gypsy was severely malnourished when it wrapped its body around the toddler’s neck and attempted to eat her.

The snake had escaped from a glass aquarium that was secured with only a quilt as a lid, according to investigators.

“She got out of the cage last night and got into the baby’s crib and strangled her to death. I’m going to kill the bitch,” Darnell said in a 911 call before fatally stabbing the snake his girlfriend had owned for years.

During their trial, attorneys representing Hare and Darnell argued that the couple never expected the previously tame pet to harm anyone.

The child’s father, Joseph Gilkerson, sued the Florida Department of Children and Families for wrongful death, claiming the agency failed to protect the toddler after a DCF investigator observed the python in the home. The parties later reached a confidential settlement.


About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter Mike DeForest has been covering Central Florida news for more than two decades. Mike joined News 6 just as Florida officials began counting hanging chads in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election. Since then, he has covered some of the biggest news events in Central Florida.