New details on uranium, rattlesnake found during traffic stop in Guthrie

GUTHRIE, Okla. - Authorities are answering the questions on everyone's minds: why did a Logan County pair have a rattlesnake and uranium in their truck?

New details are emerging about the odd contents of a stolen vehicle pulled over for a traffic stop in a Guthrie neighborhood, including uranium and a rattlesnake.

It was about 11 a.m. when Guthrie police pulled over Stephen Jennings and Rachael Rivera in a stolen Ford.

Inside, officers found a pistol, an open bottle of Kentucky Deluxe, a live rattlesnake in a large terrarium in the backseat, and powdered radioactive uranium.

Sgt. Anthony Gibbs with Guthrie Police said they had a company that specializes in potentially dangerous materials handle the uranium before DEQ picked it up.

But Dr. Eric Eitrheim, an assistant professor in UCO's chemistry department, said all that probably wasn't necessary with this type of uranium. Unlike the type used in nuclear weapons, he said this isn't that radioactive or dangerous. It can easily be purchased on Amazon for about $40.

"This is pretty similar to me to hearing about someone who had powdered lead, really, is the way you can think about it," Dr. Eitrheim said, "because the only real hazard to humans is if it's inhaled or ingested."

Officers said at first Jennings jokingly said he was planning to "make a mega-snake." However later explained that he sells metal to scrapyards and has a Geiger counter to test if the metal is radioactive, which apparently isn't uncommon.

"You need something radioactive to test the Geiger counter so this would be one of the best ways to do it," Dr. Eitrheim said. "It's such a benign material that's lowly radioactive enough."

Neither the snake nor the uranium was illegal to have, however in Guthrie, you're not allowed to keep dangerous animals as pets. So because Jennings is in jail, police had it euthanized.

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