Alligator ate Brevard burglary suspect, deputies say

Deputies: Remains found inside gator's stomach


BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Authorities have determined that a man drowned as a result of an alligator attack in November, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office said.

The body of Matthew Riggins, of Palm Bay, was found Nov. 23 in a Barefoot Bay lake.

During the late evening or early morning hours of Nov. 12 to Nov. 13, Riggins told his girlfriend that he was going to Barefoot Bay to commit burglaries with another person, deputies said.

At 2 a.m. Nov. 13, deputies arrived in the area of Tequesta Drive in Barefoot Bay after a resident called saying that two people dressed in black were walking behind houses in the area, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Two males were spotted on Royal Palm Boulevard during a search of the area. Upon seeing the deputies, the two fled on foot in an attempt to avoid apprehension, deputies said.

Deputies, assisted by Sheriff’s Office K-9's and Aviation Unit, searched the area without success in finding the burglary suspects.

It was later learned that Riggins had contacted his girlfriend during the time frame of the search, advising that they were being chased by deputies, according to the Sheriff's Office. Riggins was reported as a missing person to the Palm Bay Police Department later that day when he did not return home.

Deputies said Riggins' body was observed Nov. 23 in a lake just north of Ocean Avenue Way.During the recovery of the body,

Sheriff’s dive team members encountered a large alligator aggressively approaching the area where the body was found, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Due to trauma observed on the body, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission trapper was called and an 11-foot alligator was trapped and euthanized, deputies said.

A forensic examination of the alligator found remains consistent with the injuries to Riggins inside the alligator’s stomach, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Agents have identified the male suspect who with Riggins that night, however he has refused to cooperate with law enforcement in reference to the investigation, deputies said.

Anyone with information is asked to please call Agent Marlon Buggs, of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit or Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS (8477). Deputies said all calls to Crimeline are confidential, and callers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward.