It is suspected that the human remains of Timothy Satterlee were found inside a 12-foot-long alligator suspected of killing the man during floods caused by Hurricane Ida in late August. Satterlee went missing on Aug. 30 when floodwaters overtook his shed. An alligator reportedly tore the 71-year-old Louisiana man’s arm off before he vanished later that night.
According to reports, U.S. and Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents captured the 504-pound alligator on Monday in the area of Avery Estates, which is close to where Timothy Satterlee went missing. Phillip McClurke and Eric Dumas, both licensed hunters, caught the animal in their traps. After an extensive search, the wildlife experts recovered remains suspected to be Satterlee’s.
The St. Tammy Parish Coroner’s Office was working to identify the human remains Monday, though the remains were expected to belong to the missing Louisiana man. “Once the alligator was searched, it was discovered to have what appears to be human remains inside its stomach,” the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed Monday.
In its statement, it was revealed that at the beginning of the investigation, “Sheriff Smith vowed… that the agency would use all of the resources and manpower available to bring some sort of closure to the family.” Since Timothy Satterlee disappeared on August 30, the “members of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Division, along with State and Federal partners, worked tirelessly searching the area in hopes of locating Satterlee, or the alligator that attacked him.”
As of Monday, the “hard work paid off,” according to the sheriff’s office. The alligator was first observed near where Timothy Satterlee’s arm had been originally torn off. Wildlife experts then set traps for the alligator, eventually securing its capture on Monday morning. It was reported that the alligator was killed.
“This is a horrible tragedy and my sincere condolences and sympathy goes to the Satterlee family,” said Sheriff Smith in his statement. “I know today’s findings do not bring their loved one back, but hopefully this can bring them some sort of closure.”
The sheriff admitted that “I am very proud of the hard, non-stop work, of my deputies and the other agencies who assisted, and I hope their persistence in finding this alligator will help the family with coping with their loss. We will continue to keep them in our prayers.”
When the initial attack occurred, officials had warned homeowners in Louisiana of potential alligator attacks in floodwaters. At the time, Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee explained that “this is an area that has a lot of swampland, alligators, very dangerous conditions.” According to statistics, however, alligator attacks during or after hurricanes are rare.
Researchers at the University of Florida explained that the animals have sensors that let them detect changes in pressure prior to intense storms. When they detect these hurricane conditions, the alligators will usually find shelter and stay put.
Joe Wasilewski, a UF conservation biologist, explained that “they are much smarter than people” because “they instantly seek shelter.” He claimed that “they have burrows or caves they call home, usually under a mud or canal, and believe me, the first thing they are going to do is go into those burrows and caves.”
Despite the evidence, some researchers warned that alligators still pose a threat after a storm, especially when water levels rise significantly. Certain flood conditions are conducive for the animals to explore neighborhoods and communities that they don’t often venture into.
James Perran Ross from the University of Florida said in 2019 that “when the water levels rise, alligators tend to move around.” In the case of Timothy Satterlee, his shed was a target for one scaly critter. The tragic events that unfolded were horrific, not only for Satterlee but for his wife, who watched her husband’s arm being ripped off by the reptile.