Coroner Identifies Remains of Louisiana Man Eaten by Alligator After Hurricane Ida

Alligator
AP PHOTO/GERALD HERBERT

A Louisiana coroner has positively identified remains recovered from the stomach of a 12-foot-long alligator as those of Timothy Satterlee Sr.

Satterlee Sr, 71, was last seen by his wife during Hurricane Ida when an alligator attacked him in the floodwaters outside of his home in Slidell. His wife reportedly heard a splash and thought that he may have fallen, but upon looking at the scene the alligator “had him in a death roll,” according to St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Captain Lance Vitter. She went to get help, but upon returning to the area her husband was gone.

Dr. Charles Preston of St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office was able to positively identify Satterlee Sr. after comparing the DNA of the remains to the DNA of Satterlee’s sons. The results showed 11 points of similarity between the remains and the children, enabling the office to say that the remains are likely Satterlee’s. Preston stated:

For a criminal case, that wouldn’t be sufficient to make a positive identification. But at some point you just have to apply common sense. We had one reported person eaten by an alligator, one very large 500-pound alligator recovered with human remains in it and 11 points matched with his male relatives. So I felt that was enough.

It was really very challenging because much like someone who is severely burned, the DNA in the burned tissue is going to be completely destroyed. And unfortunately a lot of the tissue that had been inside of the alligator’s stomach was severely degraded. I’m comfortable saying the remains are that of Mr. Satterlee.

The alligator weighing 504 pounds and tallying 12 feet in length was found on September 13, during search efforts conducted by St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s deputies and U.S. and Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents, according to an update from the Sherrif’s office. The alligator was discovered near the location of the attack.  

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