Alligator shot, killed after woman’s remains found in its jaws in Texas bayou

File photo of an American alligator swimming in a Texas bayou. An alligator was shot and killed on May 28, 2024 after a Houston police officer spotted a dead woman's remains in its jaws. Getty Images/Cindy Larson

A Texas alligator was shot and killed Tuesday morning after a Houston police officer spotted the remains of a dead woman in its jaws.

Houston police had been searching for a missing woman that day when they found human remains along the banks of a bayou in Clear Lake, a residential district in the greater Houston area, according to a press release. An alligator appeared to be attacking the woman’s remains.

A police officer shot the alligator to “prevent it from doing more damage to the body.” A dive team recovered the remains of the woman, believed to be in her 60s, as well as the dead alligator.

The investigation into the woman’s death is ongoing. It’s not clear if the woman found dead in the bayou was the same woman police had been looking for. The identity of the woman is unknown, pending the results of an autopsy being carried out by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

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Authorities are also unsure if the woman died due to the alligator attack or if she was already dead by the time the predator showed up.

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The Houston Police Department had no other information to share on the woman’s death Friday afternoon, and the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences did not immediately respond to a phone call from Global News.

Texas wildlife officials told ABC13 that it assisted in the recovery of the woman’s remains.

“On May 28, Texas Game Wardens provided assistance to the Houston Police Department (HPD) in the recovery of human remains found near an alligator. The woman’s cause of death has not been determined. HPD is currently investigating the incident and will be the lead agency moving forward. Our thoughts are with the woman’s family during this time,” wrote Maggie Berger, a spokesperson for the Law Enforcement Division with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

The broadcaster also spoke with local resident Angela Derous, who was fishing in the bayou on Tuesday night, and said that alligators are a common sight in the area.

“(Alligators) live down there. We see eight-feet, 10-feet babies. I know which banks to stay away from and where they like to lay in the sun,” she said. “That’s the first time I’ve heard of (someone being killed) down here. It’s a little scary.”

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Alligator attacks are rare in the United States. A 2005 study found that there had been at least 376 injuries at 15 deaths related to alligator encounters in the U.S. between 1948 and 2004. The alligator population, as well as number of alligator encounters, have increased over the years.

The last fatal alligator attack in Texas occurred in 2015, when a 28-year-old man was killed while swimming in Adams Bayou.

Last year, an 85-year-old Florida woman was killed by an alligator after she tried to save her dog from its jaws.

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