WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (FOX 13) - Investigators say a man whose body was found on Mosaic land in Polk County earlier this week had been eaten by an alligator.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office identified the victim as 45-year-old Michael Ford II of Wauchula, whose body was found Thursday morning floating in a canal off Peeples Road near County Road 630.
When a Mosaic employee discovered Ford's body, the sheriff's office said a large alligator had a part of his body in its mouth. By the time first responders arrived, the gator had let go.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials trapped and killed the alligator in order to perform a necropsy.
The sheriff's office said Ford's hand and foot were found inside the gator's stomach.
An autospy revealed Ford had other lacerations and injuries caused by the reptile, and said his apparent cause of death was drowning. The final determination is pending toxicology results.
It is still unclear if the alligator attacked the man when he was alive, or came across him after he died.
FWC officer Ashley Tyer said the alligator was nearly 12 feet long and weighed about 450 pounds.
"That can do a lot of damage. It is definitely a large gator," Tyer said.
Detectives said a truck found at the scene belonged to a friend of Ford's, who had recently agreed to sell it to him. Neither the friend nor Ford's family had heard from him since Sunday, June 23rd.