Florida wildlife officers made a grim discovery Friday in the belly of a captured monster alligator: the arm of a missing woman.
No one witnessed the attack, but a neighbor said 47-year-old Shizuka Matsuki was walking her two dogs Friday morning by a lake in Davie, a suburb of Miami, when she vanished. Only her barking dogs remained at the waterfront of Silver Lakes Rotary Nature Park. One of the dogs had a fresh wound.
"Her dogs won't leave the pond," Davie Police Maj. Dale Engle told the Sun Sentinel on Friday when the search began. "One of her dogs got bit by the gator."
Ronald Washington of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Friday afternoon in an interview on WPLG-TV that the agency had captured a 12½-foot-long alligator at the lake and that a necropsy on the animal revealed the severed arm.
Wildlife commission officers were expected to remain at the park until Matsuki's body is found. The search will continue through Saturday morning, according to an FWC spokesman.
A Davie resident recalled visiting the park a year ago and seeing a shockingly large alligator swim to the bank after her son threw bread in the water to feed the fish.
"That gator was there in a heartbeat," she told the Sun Sentinel. "We never went back again."
Three trappers had been hired to try to capture the animal over the last two years but had failed to do so, according to the newspaper.
"This is heartbreaking for everyone involved and our sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of the victim," said a statement from the wildlife commission.
Alligators live in all 67 of Florida's counties. The last deadly attack was two years ago when a 2-year-old boy was killed at a lagoon at a Walt Disney World resort in Orlando. Twenty-two people have been killed in alligator attacks in the state since 1948.
The area where the attack occurred will be closed to the public until further notice.