BAREFOOT BAY, Fla. — An 11-foot alligator helps authorities solve a crime mystery. Authorities say a burglar was hiding from police in a Florida pond when the gator ate him!
“I would say it was poetic justice if you want to sit there and steal from people,” neighbor Chuck Stokes said.
22-year-old Matthew Riggins reportedly called his girlfriend and told her he’d be down in the Barefoot Bay community breaking into homes. Neighbors reported seeing two men dressed in all black lurking behind homes.
That began an all-out search of the area with deputies on foot, K-9 units and a helicopter arriving to help.
Investigators say Riggins called his girlfriend saying they were being chased and were laying low.
“We are walking in the brush, we saw some matted down grass,” a deputy said on the police radio. “Do you still here them hollering, or did they hunker down?”
It’s that yelling that later would prove telling. Deputies called off the search that night, but then, Riggins’ family reported him missing the next day.
“He probably went into the lake to hide from the officers and the dog, and at some point, he came across that gator,” Major Tod Goodyear with Brevard Sheriff’s Office said.
That’s right — an 11-foot alligator.
Riggins’ body was found floating in that pond 10 days later. Investigators say it had all the makings of a gator attack.
“He hid in the wrong place,” resident Laura Farris said.
The dive team encountered the same gator for themselves during the recovery, and the animal had to be euthanized. Inside the gator’s stomach, the medical examiner found proof of how Riggins was killed.
“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,” Maj. Goodyear said.
Authorities say they have a second suspect but he’s not cooperating. That person has yet to be charged.