The body of a Florida woman who went missing on Friday morning while walking her dogs has been found, and police suspect a 12-foot, 6-inch gator captured nearby is responsible for her death.
On Saturday, the law enforcement division of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced that search teams had recovered the body of Shizuka Matsuki from the Silver Lakes Rotary Nature Park lake in Davie — not far from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
“We would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Shizuka Matsuki,” the organization tweeted. “We will be conducting a thorough investigation into this incident.”
Matsuki, 47, had last been seen at the lake near the Ft. Lauderdale lake walking her two dogs, a witness told Davie Police Detective Viviana Gallinal, CBS News reported. A short time later, she was gone, though her dogs were found still on leashes and barking towards the water.
Trappers pulled an alligator from the lake hours later, NBC News reported. FWC officials then cut the reptile open and found a human arm inside, believed to be Matsuki’s.
“After an initial necropsy, evidence was found that indicates that the victim of this incident was bitten by the alligator that was captured earlier today,” FWC spokesman Robert Klepper said, according to WSVN.
Her husband was out of town at the time of the attack, the paper reported.
A neighbor told the Miami Herald that he had warned his wife not to walk near the nature park. “He had warned her not to take the dogs over to that place because they had seen gators before and it isn’t safe,” neighbor Peter Limia, 37, said. “She was just your ordinary soccer mom. It’s a tragedy.”
The dogs, which are pit bulls, are currently with Broward County Animal Care, reported the Herald.
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According to the FWC, 401 unprovoked alligator bite incidents have occurred in Florida from 1948 to 2017. Of those, 24 of them were fatal.
The most recent was in 2016, when 2-year-old Lane Graves was dragged into a lake by an alligator and killed while playing on the water’s edge during a family vacation at a Walt Disney World hotel in Orlando.