The capture of the 12-foot alligator ended a two-week search by local and state agencies for Timothy Satterlee Sr, who was last seen on August 30 checking storm damage outside his home in Slidell, approximately 35 miles (55 km) northeast of New Orleans.
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The attack came the day after Ida, one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast, hit Louisiana, causing devastating flooding in areas outside a new system of dikes and sluices protecting New Orleans.
An alligator “weighing astonishing 504 pounds” was caught Monday in a trap set by two pest hunters licensed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife, according to a statement from the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.
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“Once the alligator was searched, it was discovered that it had what appears to be human remains in its stomach,” the sheriff’s office said. “Investigators will work with the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office to verify that these remains belong to Timothy Satterlee. “
Wildlife officers were roaming the area aboard seaplanes on Saturday when a drone they deployed spotted a ‘fairly large’ alligator not far from Satterlee’s house, spokesman Captain Lance Vitter said. from the sheriff’s office.
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Officers set traps, which proved effective on Monday. Officers then euthanized and opened the alligator “and that’s when they discovered the body parts,” Vitter said. “It was the upper parts of a human body. “
Satterlee’s house is not far from an area frequented by tourists who visit the swamps and promise to spot alligators and other wildlife, Vitter said. Alligators generally don’t attack humans unless the food they’ve hidden has been moved, as can happen during major storms, he said.
Satterlee’s wife saw a large alligator attack her husband after he came out of their raised house to check the contents of their shed at ground level. The alligator had placed him in a “death roll” and snatched one of his arms from him, Vitter said, telling the wife’s statement to authorities. The wife, 68, intervened and the alligator disappeared into the water.
Bleeding profusely and starting to pass out, the husband told her to get into their small boat and ask for help, Vitter said. Vitter added that it would have been difficult for the woman to get her husband into the boat without her help and without it tipping over. She left it on their stairs.
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The woman found help about a mile away and returned to find her husband was no longer on the stairs, Vitter said. “She never thought in her wildest nightmares that she would come back and be gone. “
Satterlee was a mainstay of his community in Slidell, volunteering at the local school and cooking for storm victims, Vitter said, adding that he hoped finding the alligator would end Satterlee’s wife.
“Now that we’ve located the alligator, she can at least get a death certificate,” Vitter said.
The alligator was unusually large for the area, where those captured are typically 7 1/2 to 8 feet long and rarely exceed 300 pounds, Vitter said.
According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, male alligators can weigh up to 1,000 lbs (454 kg).