The mother of two small boys strangled by a 100-pound python in their sleep in Canada had posted photos on Facebook last year of them playing in and cleaning her neighbour's snake enclosure.
Mandy Trecartin's Facebook page has hundreds of photos of her sons, including a few showing Noah Barthe, four, and Connor Barthe, six, happily scrubbing the glass enclosure, which she identified as an anaconda habitat.
It was not clear whether the enclosure is the one that held the python.
Preliminary results from post-mortem examinations performed on the boys show they died from asphyxiation, officials said.
Hundreds of people in the shocked community of Campbellton, New Brunswick, gathered for a candlelight vigil last night in a show of support for the family.
The snake, an African rock python, apparently escaped from its enclosure, slithered through a ventilation system and fell through the ceiling into the room where the young boys were sleeping, authorities said.
They had been visiting the flat of a friend whose father owned an exotic pet store on the floor below. A snake expert said it was possible that the python was spooked and simply clung to whatever it landed on.
The authorities planned to remove other animals from the pet shop, though Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt Alain Tremblay said the 14-foot python had been kept inside the flat.
Police are treating the deaths in Campbellton, New Brunswick, as a criminal investigation.
Sgt Tremblay said the snake was housed in a large glass enclosure that reached the ceiling of the flat and escaped through a small hole in the ceiling connected to the ventilation system. He said the snake made its way through the ventilation system, the pipe collapsed and the snake fell.