The body of a missing Florida woman, believed to have been dragged into a lake by an alligator, has been found – and an arm was found inside an alligator, Inside Edition is reporting.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission authorities trapped an alligator late Friday night. After cutting open the reptile, they found an arm that was later confirmed to have belonged to Shizuka Matsuki, 47, who was last seen walking her dogs near a lake. Spokesman Robert Klepper didn’t mention specific body parts but did confirm that it was Ms. Matsuki.
“After an initial necropsy, evidence was found that indicates that the victim of this incident was bitten by the alligator that was captured earlier today.”
According to WTVD-TV (Raleigh), Ms. Matsuki had been walking her dogs near Silver Lakes Rotary Nature Park, near Ft. Lauderdale. Davie Police Detective Viviana Gallinal says that witnesses had seen the woman with her dogs, and then later noticed that one of the dogs was near the water’s edge, barking at the water. The dog was injured, with a “gash” in its side consistent with an alligator bite.
Meanwhile, at least one news source reported that a witness had seen the woman being dragged into the 500,000-square-foot lake, although police could not confirm that they received that information from a witness.
— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) June 9, 2018
After a multi-agency search, trappers eventually found a suspected gator.
Heather Porrata, who lives nearby, said that every Floridian knows to be on the lookout for gators near ponds, lakes, and streams.
“Any body of water in Florida, you’ve got to know at some point or another there’s an alligator.”
Sharon Estupinan similarly knew better than to go near water with her dogs.
“Every time I walked the dogs during the day, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’ve gotta keep away from there. I have to call my dogs,’ so they wouldn’t get close to the water or any of the trees near there because he could be hiding.”
Authorities warn that gators are “opportunistic feeders,” meaning that they will generally snap onto anything that gets near them. Further, they’re most active during mating season, which is May and June.
However, alligator-on-human fatalities are actually exceedingly rare. Between 1948 to 2017, there have been a documented 401 cases of alligators biting humans in Florida, and only 24 fatalities (there have also been fatal alligator attacks on humans in South Carolina and Texas). Prior to Ms. Matsuki’s death, the most recent fatal alligator attack in Florida had taken place at Walt Disney World, when two-year-old Lane Graves was pulled into the water by a gator in the park’s Seven Seas Lagoon.