texas alligator
Credit: City of Galveston

Police Not Sure If Alligator Killed Woman or Just Ate Her

Houston police discovered an alligator eating a woman's remains, but they're unsure if the gator killed her or if she died another way.

The Houston Police Department said officers found the remains of a missing woman inside the mouth of an alligator on Tuesday morning. But they're unsure if the alligator killed her or just ate her.

According to Wednesday's press release, patrol officers made the horrific discovery while searching for the woman in the Horsepen Bayou on Houston's southeast corner. In response, one of the officers shot and killed the gator in an attempt to prevent it from causing more damage to the remains. And then a dive team recovered the remains of the gator.

Police did not identify the woman by name, but they did say she was in her 60s. They also told reporters that her husband said she went for a walk around 7:30 p.m. on Monday and never returned.

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Now, the department's homicide team is awaiting autopsy results to confirm the woman's identity and determine how she died, which would also determine if further investigation is needed.

Alligator attacks are rare

According to the Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife, fatal alligator attacks are rare. The last one happened in Orange, Texas, in 2015, when an alligator caught a 28-year-old man swimming in a bayou. The last one before that happened in 1925.

Although they happen more frequently in other states, they're still considered rare. Florida, for example, recorded more than 450 alligator bites since 1948, but only 30 were fatal.

If you see an alligator, wildlife officials say you should avoid approaching it. One way to know that you're too close is it'll start hissing and if that's the case, back off. They also say if you see it in the water, don't swim with it. Srsly?

In general, wildlife officials say if an alligator is approaching people or otherwise causing problems, you should contact them immediately. However, there are a number of situations in which a gator may seem like a nuisance, but isn't. These include gators basking in the sun, crossing a roadway, or charging if you get too close, especially to a female's nest.