Alligator kills suspect
An alligator attacked and killed a suspected burglar in Palm Bay, according to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and Florida wildlife officials.
Police said the body of Matthew Riggins, of Palm Bay, was discovered in a Barefoot Bay lake on Nov. 23, 2015. After an investigation into Riggins’ death, it was determined he drowned as a result of an alligator attack, officials told WESH 2 News.
Riggins told his girlfriend that he was going to Barefoot Bay to commit burglaries with another man sometime during the night or early-morning hours of Nov. 12 and 13, according to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office,
Local police were called to the area of Tequesta Drive in Barefoot Bay after a resident reported two males dressed in black were walking behind houses in the area around 2 a.m. on Nov. 13. During a search of the area, the two men were spotted on Royal Palm Boulevard but ran when they saw deputies.
Deputies, along with K-9s and an aviation unit, searched the area but were unable to find the two men.
It was later revealed that Riggins contacted his girlfriend during the timeframe of the search, saying that he and the other man were being chased by deputies. Riggins was reported missing later that day when he did not return home.
On Nov. 23, Riggins’ body was discovered in a lake just north of Ocean Avenue Way. But during the recovery of the body, sheriff’s dive team members encountered a large alligator aggressively approaching the area. Because of the nature of the injuries on Riggins’ body, a trapper with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was called.
An alligator, about 11 feet long, was trapped and euthanized. A forensic exam of the gator showed remains consistent with the injuries to Riggins inside of the alligator’s stomach, according to the sheriff’s office.
Agents have identified the man who was with Riggins that night; however, he has refused to cooperate with law enforcement, officials said.
Anyone with information about the investigation is asked to call Agent Marlon Buggs of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit or Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.