Alligator ate burglary suspect, deputies say

Deputies: Remains found inside gator's stomach

Image courtesy: WKMG ClickOrlando
Image courtesy: WKMG ClickOrlando

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Florida authorities have determined that a man drowned as a result of an alligator attack in November, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office said.  

The body of Matthew Riggins was found Nov. 23 in Barefoot Bay lake in east Florida.

During the late evening or early morning hours of Nov. 12 to Nov. 13, Riggins told his girlfriend he was going to Barefoot Bay to commit burglaries with another person, deputies said.

Around 2 a.m. on Nov. 13, deputies arrived in the area after a resident called saying two people dressed in black were walking behind houses in the area, according to a report by WKMG in Orlando.

Two males were spotted on a nearby street during a search of the area. Upon seeing the deputies, the two fled on foot in an attempt to avoid apprehension, deputies said.

Deputies assisted by a sheriff’s office K-9 unit and helicopter searched the area, but did not find the burglary suspects.

It was later learned that Riggins had contacted his girlfriend during the time frame of the search, advising they were being chased by deputies, according to the sheriff's office.

Riggins was reported as a missing person to the Palm Bay Police Department later that day when he did not return home.

Deputies said Riggins' body was observed on Nov. 23 in a lake in the area.

Sheriff’s dive team members encountered a large alligator aggressively approaching the area where the body was found, sheriff's officials said.

Due to trauma observed on the body, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission trapper was called and an 11-foot alligator was trapped and euthanized, deputies said.

A forensic examination of the alligator found remains consistent with the injuries to Riggins inside the alligator’s stomach, according sheriff's officials.  

Agents have identified the male suspect who with Riggins, however he has refused to cooperate with law enforcement in reference to the investigation, deputies said.