Human Arm Found in Alligator's Mouth Prompts Homicide Investigation

Law enforcement officials in Florida have opened a homicide investigation after a human arm was spotted in the mouth of an alligator.

When a biologist from the Florida Fresh Water Game Commission visited the John C. and Mariana Jones/Hungryland Wildlife and Environmental Area on Wednesday morning during a routine patrol, they spotted an alligator.

Despite this being the norm, there was one thing out of the ordinary—a human arm hanging from its mouth. Alligators can grow up to 13 feet long, with females being generally smaller than males.

"She noticed a medium-sized gator with a human arm in its mouth," Martin County Sheriff William Snyder told Newsweek.

The John C. and Mariana Jones/Hungryland Wildlife and Environmental Area is a protected nature reserve that covers more than 16,600 acres in Martin and Palm Beach counties. It's a popular destination for camping, fishing and hiking and resides seven miles west of Jupiter, a small coastal resort.

"She called the law enforcement part of that state agency and they came out and spent all day looking. At nightfall, they did find human arm remains of a human being," said Snyder.

Investigators from the Martin County Sheriff's Office were called into the nature reserve on Thursday. Detectives went on to find what appeared to be part of a leg located on the bank of the canal.

"We did find another part of what we believe, and I'm waiting for the medical examiner to tell us, is another part of a human. So that's where we were yesterday morning, and we spent all day out there. Looking for a lot of remains after that second finding, we haven't found anything," added Snyder.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there's around 1.3 million alligators in Florida. Data shows that between 1948 and 2021, 442 unprovoked bite incidents have occurred in the state, with 26 of those ending up in human fatalities.

This investigation, however, is currently being treated as a homicide. "It's overwhelming likelihood is it's a homicide, and we are treating it as a homicide. Now that we know something about the victim, there was no reason for him to have me out there," said Snyder.

"He wasn't camping, he wasn't fishing. So if he was murdered, which we really do believe that's the case, he was murdered out there, or he was taken out there and discarded."

The preserve has been closed since Thursday and crime scene tape blocks off paths. Dogs have also joined the hunt for clues on the ground with deputies on ATVs, while dive teams also search the water.

Now, investigators will work to reconstruct the life of the victim and figure out "the circumstances of his life prior to his death."

Stock image of an alligator. A Florida alligator appears to have taken a liking to human flesh, after being seen with a human arm in its mouth. Getty Images