MELBOURNE, Fla. — Brevard County deputies have determined that Matthew Riggins, 22, was killed by an alligator in Barefoot Bay lake on Nov. 23 while possibly hiding to avoid law enforcement.
Investigators say that Riggins had told his girlfriend he would be in Barefoot Bay to commit burglaries with another suspect who is now in custody but not cooperating with officials, according to Maj. Tod Goodyear with BCSO.
Deputies responded to calls in Barefoot Bay on Nov. 13 that there were two men dressed in black walking behind area houses, who ran from responding officers. Later that day, Riggins was reported missing to the Palm Bay Police Department.
Police searching the area reported hearing “yelling” but could not determine the source that night, Goodyear said. Ten days later, Riggins’ body was found in the lake.
Sheriff’s dive team members encountered an 11-foot alligator behaving aggressively while recovering the body, according to BCSO.
“When the body was found, it had injuries that were consistent with an alligator attack,” Goodyear said. “We had trappers euthanize the gator and when we opened it up, there were some remains inside that were consistent with injuries found on the body.”
Riggins died from drowning and bites were discovered along his legs and body that led investigators to determine he had been dragged underwater by the massive animal.
Goodyear said that burglaries reported by snowbirds returning to their homes for the winter are being investigated in connection with Riggins and his unknown accomplice.