Fresno Discovery Center's python returns

FRESNO, Calif.

You may remember several pythons, a boa constrictor and a large monitor lizard were taken from the center more than three weeks ago.

Staff members at The Discovery Center say the python was returned anonymously this week. The two children who helped investigators say they're just happy the snake is doing okay.

Eight year old Leah Charriez and her brother Joshua Harris spend a lot of time after school playing outside The Discovery Center. "There are a lot of things to do, we usually like to look at the turtles and pet them," said Leah.

Another one of their favorite things to do is to learn about the reptiles who call this center home. But recently, they've been so upset about the three snakes and monitor lizard that were stolen from their tanks.

Surveillance video shows the thief used a cinder block last month to shatter the reptiles' tanks. He then yanked several snakes off their branches and pulled Zuu Zuu, a large lizard over that broken glass by her tail.

Staff members at the center released the clips hoping to catch the crook, but they never dreamed these neighborhood kids would be the ones to crack the case. "I was shocked because I know him and he used to play football with us," said Joshua.

Leah and Joshua helped police identify the thief as 21 year-old Devon Madej. Madej has since pleaded no contest to second degree burglary. But staff members at the center say his real crime was how he treated the snakes.

Madej is expected to be sentenced next month. And staff members at The Discovery Center say there's a special party planned next week to give police an opportunity to thank the kids who helped catch the thief.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.