There's No Way to 'Make Any Kind of Positive Identification' of the Alligator That Attacked 2-Year-Old Boy at Disney World, Says Forensic Dentist
"They could have had 50 alligators there, but if you don't have adequate information to match the teeth to the bite wounds, there's nothing to look at," Dr. Cohrn tells PEOPLE
The forensic odontologist who worked with the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission subject matter experts and law enforcement investigators to identify the alligator responsible for the death of 2-year-old Lane Graves on June 16 says he was not able to “make any kind of positive identification to a specific animal.”
Dr. Kenneth Cohrn, who examined Lane’s body postmortem (not the alligators), says the case had little evidence, and there was no way to “isolate a specific animal.”
“They could have had 50 alligators there, but if you don’t have adequate information to match the teeth to the bite wounds, there’s nothing to look at,” Dr. Cohrn tells PEOPLE.
His comments come a day after the FWC said they were “confident” they had removed the alligator responsible for the attack at Disney World’s Seven Seas Lagoon, in a statement released to PEOPLE on Wednesday.
The reported animal has been euthanized, a spokesperson confirmed to PEOPLE. The FWC said they were able to correctly identify the alligator based on “expert analyses and observations by staff with extensive experience in investigating fatal alligator bite incidents.” Investigators took into account witness descriptions, proximity to the site of the attack and the size of the alligator.
During the investigation, trappers euthanized six alligators from the area, the FWC confirmed to PEOPLE on Friday. Three of those alligators were of the correct size to have taken the toddler. Two of those three were in close enough proximity to the incident to have killed Lane.
“I do believe it was a smaller sized one. Two [of the alligators trapped] were small, less than five feet. It could have been one of those,” says Dr. Cohrn. “But there is no science behind that. We really couldn’t make an identification.”
In a statement released to PEOPLE on Wednesday, the FWC said that the bite marks were indeed “inconclusive,” but that “subject matter experts were able to conclude that either of the two suspect alligators captured near the attack site were capable of inflicting the observed wounds.”
The FWC also said that “DNA was collected from the victim and all alligators captured. Results from the victim’s wounds were negative for animal DNA, and no comparison could be made.”
According to the FWC, 1.3 million alligators live in Florida, but attacks are “a very rare occurrence.”
“Any waterway in Florida could be a potential habitat for alligators and other critters. So there s really no way to control it. This is their habitat, this is where they live and you can expect to see them,” says Dr. Cohrn. “You run into a problem where the boundaries between people and populations interact with the natural habitat of wild animals. It happens in communities, it happens in park areas, it happens all over Florida.”
“After the tragic loss of our beloved 2-year-old son, Lane Thomas, we have created the Lane Thomas Foundation to honor his memory,” the statement reads. “Losing Lane has broken our hearts in the worst possible way. While there is no way to mend our hearts, we can do good work in his honor.”