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Don't Fish Too Close to the Bank!

Claim:   Photographs show human remains discovered inside a crocodile.

UNDETERMINED

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, November 2007]

Hindsight being what it is, an unidentified thief (allegedly) burglarizing cars behind the Miccosukee Indian Reservation in Dade County, Florida might have picked a different hunting ground had he known that he'd become the hunted. And we mean that in the most literal sense. You see, witnesses called the cops on the burglar while he was breaking into cars, and the boys in blue arrived on the scene and gave chase. Hoping to elude the fuzz, the suspect dove into a pond behind the resort and casino where he was greeted by a 9-foot alligator unfamiliar with the concept of Miranda rights. Unfortunately for the suspected burglar, the gator was of the aggressive and unpleasant variety, and thus, a law-breaking career came to a grisly and unexpected end. He'd have been a lot better off spending the night in the clink instead of heading into the drink. Unfortunately for the gator vigilante, Florida fish & wildlife reps saw to it that he followed his erstwhile prey into the afterlife.
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Origins:   As is often the case, the images displayed above appear to be a case of someone's matching up (presumably real) photographs of unknown origin with a similar but completely unrelated news account.

These pictures began to circulate via e-mail forward in mid-November 2007 under a title of "Don't Fish Too Close to the Bank!", with no accompanying information about when, where, or under what circumstances the photographs were taken. A few weeks later, they were matched up with a November 2007 news report from Miami, Florida, about a would-be thief who was killed by an alligator while he was fleeing from the police:
A Florida man police said was breaking into cars at Miccosukee Resort and Gaming was attacked and killed by a 9-foot alligator while trying to run from police.

Investigators said officers responded to reports of car break-ins at a Miccosukee Indian Reservation parking lot located at 500 S.W. 177th Ave. in Miami.

One of the men was quickly captured by officers during the incident last week but the other robbery suspect tried to elude officer by jumping into a large pond behind the facility.

During the swim, police said, an alligator attacked and killed the man. He was apparently bitten on the head several times.

The victim's body was recovered at the bottom of the pond about a day after the reported break-ins.
However, a local television news report of the incident shows that it doesn't match this set of photographs in several particulars:
  • The terrain and surroundings in the photos don't match that of the urban Miami, Florida, resort location (surrounded by casinos, hotels, roads, and parking lots) where the robbery suspect was killed.
  • The animal shown in the photographs is not an alligator but a Nile crocodile, a saurian found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the Nile Basin, and Madagascar, not Florida.
  • The Florida robbery suspect was killed by an alligator, but he was not eaten by the reptile.
  • The Florida alligator was not dispatched and cut open at the scene of the incident; he was captured, transported to the All American Gator facility, and held there pending an inspection by the county medical examiner's office. (In accordance with state law, the alligator was destroyed once the investigation was complete.)
Other versions have attempted to match these photographs with a November 2007 account of a crocodile killed by villagers in eastern Indonesia after several people went missing in the area, a saurian which was found to have human remains inside it:
Villagers found two human hands, a leg and a pair of shorts inside a half-ton crocodile they trapped and killed in eastern Indonesia, a conservationist said.

At least five people have gone missing in recent months in the same area of East Nusa Tenggara province and are believed to have been eaten by a crocodile or crocodiles, said local conservationist Lorens Mbatu.

The 16-foot-long reptile is suspected of having eaten a 59-year-old fisherman, who was last seen a week earlier near a river in the province about 750 miles east of the capital, Jakarta.

The villagers who found human body parts inside the captured crocodile's abdomen — along with skull fragments and strands of hair — cut the beast into pieces and shared the meat, Mbatu said.

"People here believe they must eat the flesh of a crocodile that has eaten a human so there will be no more victims," he said
However, we have not found any evidence that definitively links these photographs with the man-eating crocodile killed in Indonesia. Indeed, the men shown in the top two pictures look like pleased hunters posing with a trophy kill, not Indonesian villagers who have just captured a beast suspected of having eaten several local residents. At this point we can't even verify that the bottom four pictures (the close-ups showing human remains) were taken at the same time and place as the two photographs of the men posing with the captured croc.


Last updated:   14 September 2013

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Sources:

    Associated Press.   "Fleeing Robbery Suspect Eaten by Alligator."
    WPLG-TV [Miami].   13 November 2007.

    Associated Press.   "Human Remains Found in Slain Indonesia Croc."
    ESPN.com.   6 December 2007.