Even in Florida, nobody who heads out for an evening jog in a suburban neighbourhood expects to be attacked and killed by an alligator. But that is what happened to Yovy Suarez Jimenez, a 28-year-old biology student, who took one fatal step too close to a canal.
Sunrise, a dormitory community north of Fort Lauderdale, was in shock yesterday as the medical examiner confirmed that Ms Jimenez was grabbed and dismembered by an alligator. The animals may be plentiful in the swampy, humid climate of southern Florida but attacks on humans are mercifully rare.
Only 18 people have been killed since records began in 1948, and almost none of them were attacked in the suburbs. The Broward County medical examiner, Joshua Pepper, told reporters that Ms Jimenez had been attacked by an alligator measuring as much as 10 feet in length.
"The alligator attacked her and basically amputated her arms, bit her on the leg and back and pulled her into the water," he told reporters. "She died extremely fast. By the time she was pulled into the water, she was already dead." No eyewitnesses have come forward, although one woman said she thought she saw Ms Jimenez dangling her feet in the water.
Her body was found by building workers the morning after she headed out for her jog on Tuesday evening.
Relatives became concerned after she failed to return home to the mobile-home park where they lived. Ms Jimenez's mother said she spoke to her by mobile phone while she was out. She said she was sitting under a bridge and feeling depressed. That was the last anybody heard from her.
As soon as the incident started to receive publicity, wildlife officials launched what amounted to an alligator cull in the entire canal area. They set bait traps - using pig's lungs and other unorthodox materials attached to a tough nylon cord - and vowed to track down the killer beast. The first alligator was captured on Thursday night, but it turned out to be shorter than the killer - just six or seven feet long. After it was killed, its stomach was found to contain only tennis balls and an American football, not human remains. A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation spokesman told local television that his team would "take out everything we find". The hunt continues.Reuse content