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Police find evidence gator probably killed woman.

Byline: Kelli Kennedy Associated Press

DAVIE, Fla. -- A woman who disappeared while walking her dogs near a Florida lake Friday was bitten and likely killed by an alligator that was later captured, wildlife officials said.

A necropsy confirmed the gator bit Shizuka Matsuki, 47, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said in a statement. The statement said officials believe Matsuki was killed and were searching for her body. Commission spokesman Rob Klepper said they were able to positively identify the woman from evidence collected from the necropsy of the alligator, but he wouldn't specifically say what that evidence was.

A witness told authorities he saw the woman walking two dogs and then noticed the dogs alone, barking near the water. One of the dogs had a fresh injury, a gash on its side, said Davie Police Detective Viviana Gallinal.

The witness called police when he couldn't find the woman, Gallinal said. Earlier news media reports indicated the witness reported seeing the gator drag the woman into the water. Police did not immediately clarify the discrepancy.

Trappers had spotted a 12-foot alligator in the pond in Silver Lakes Rotary Nature Park, she said.

Jim Borrelli, a friend of Matsuki, said she and her husband have walked their dogs in the park previously. The couple did not live in the neighborhood, but he said she liked to find different places to walk the dogs. Residents said they often saw her walking them in the area.

Borrelli said Matsuki's husband, who is out of town and trying to fly home, sent him to the park to get more information after being contacted by Davie Police. Borrelli said he was also asked to break the news to the couple's son, who is in his 20s and lives in New York.

"I'm praying that nothing happened to her," Borrelli said.

A man who identified himself as Matsuki's brother and several other family friends gathered at the scene. He declined to talk but friends described the missing woman as a great friend who loved to cook.

Fatal attacks on humans remain rare. According to the wildlife commission, the likelihood of a Florida resident being injured during an unprovoked alligator attack in Florida is roughly 1 in 3.2 million.

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Title Annotation:Nation_
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Jun 9, 2018
Words:374
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