A Florida burglary suspect was eaten by an 11-foot alligator while he was hiding from the police in a nearby pond, according to the Orlando Sentinel. At approximately 2 a.m. on November 13, residents at Barefoot Bay made several 911 calls, stating that there were two men dressed in black “lurking behind their homes.” It was later discovered that 22-year-old Matthew Riggins of Palm Bay and another man, whose name has been withheld, were breaking into homes on Tequesta Drive.
However, they were in for a shock when police officials caught the two dead in their tracks on Royal Palm Boulevard. The suspects fled the scene in opposite directions, and that’s when Riggins called his girlfriend, informing her that he was being chased by authorities and had to lay low. It is unclear if he told his girlfriend where he would be laying low, but according to the Daily Mail, Riggins decided to hide in the Barefoot Bay pond, a decision that would cost him his life.
Matthew Riggins, 22, was killed by an alligator in a lake on Nov. 23 while possibly hiding to avoid law enforcement: https://t.co/y5h6pJPCja
— Bailbonds.com (@bailbonds_com) December 8, 2015
Deputies searched the area for hours for the burglary suspects, but it was to no avail. Neither Riggins nor his partner could be found. And although officers claimed to have heard yelling, they couldn’t determine where it was coming from. After their K-9 unit and helicopters were unsuccessful at locating the suspects, the search was called off. Later that day, Riggins’ family reported him missing to the Palm Bay police when he didn’t return home. Just 10 days later, on November 23, his half-eaten body was found floating in the Barefoot Bay pond just north of Ocean Avenue Way, closely guarded by an 11-foot alligator.
“He hid in the wrong place,” said local resident Laura Farris.
When the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office dive team attempted to retrieve Riggins’ body, they were confronted by an aggressive alligator, forcing the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to euthanize the wild animal by a trapper. When Riggins’ body was finally recovered from the pond, he was taken to the local coroner’s officer for an autopsy, which confirmed that he had been killed by the alligator. Parts of his remains, including his hands and feet, were found inside of its stomach.
“When the body was found, it had injuries that were consistent with an alligator attack,” said Maj. Tod Goodyear. “We had trappers euthanize the gator and when we opened it up, there were some remains inside that were consistent with injuries found on the body.”
“To hide somewhere to try and get away, and then meeting up with an animal like that, no, I’ve never had that happen before.”
It was later determined that when Riggins fled from the police, he hid in Barefoot Bay pond where he came across the alligator. The animal spotted Riggins and dragged him under water, drowning him before eating half of his remains. Police officials believe the yelling they heard on the morning they went in search of the burglary suspects could have been Riggins screaming when he came face-to-face with the alligator.
Barefoot Bay residents were stunned after learning the burglary suspect was eaten by an alligator before police were able to catch him.
One resident, Nick Pellizzi, said, “It’s pretty crazy because first the burglary happened, and then we hear that someone died that possibly was involved.”
Chuck Stokes, a nearby resident, referred to the incident as “poetic justice.” Riggins broke into homes, stole from hard working people, and, unfortunately, death was the outcome.
The other man who was involved in burglarizing homes in Barefoot Bay, along with Riggins, was captured not long after his partner’s body was discovered. However, police officials say he is not cooperating with the investigation.
As of yet, no charges have been filed.
[Image via Shutterstock]