WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (FOX 13) - The Winter Haven medical examiner is working to sort out the mysterious death of a man whose body was found on Mosaic land in south Polk County.
The unidentified body was found Thursday morning in a canal on Peeples Road, just off County Road 630, on the outskirts of Fort Meade. According to a 911 caller, there was a massive alligator nearby, which possibly left a mark on the body.
The man's body, and the body of the alligator which investigators shot and killed, were brought to the medical examiner's office in an attempt to figure out exactly what happened.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Ashley Tyer said the alligator was just short of 12 feet long and weighed about 450 pounds.
"That can do a lot of damage. It is definitely a large gator," Tyer said.
The bizarre news broke a little before 8 this morning. A Mosaic employee called 911 and told the operator what he found at the old Fort Meade mine.
"Yes, one of my employees on inspection at the mine here at Mosaic found a body floating in one of our hydraulic ditches and a gator ahold of him," the caller said.
After verifying some information with the caller, the 911 dispatcher asked, "Did he give you a description of the body?"
"Uh, no," the caller replied. "I think he's just freaked out."
Investigators say it is clear the gator had chewed on the body. It is unclear if the creature attacked the man when he was alive, or came across the guy after he died.
At this early stage of the investigation, detectives are calling the death suspicious.
"We can't rule anything out at this point. It's possible that this person was killed and dumped in the water. It is possible he fell in the water and drowned. We don't know," added Carrie Horstman with the Polk Sheriff's Office.