Human remains found in alligator-infested canal at Martin County Nature Preserve identified as Dustin Davis Mills
Martin County crime scene detectives searched an area inside the Hungryland reservation on Thursday after the remains were found near a canal filled with alligators on Wednesday.
“She was here doing her job and she saw what she thought was an alligator in the water, in this body of water to my right, with what looked like a human arm to her,” said Martin County Sheriff William Snyder.
The sheriff said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission then searched the area and found what the alligator was holding.
“They actually found, not far from where we’re standing, a human arm,” Snyder said.
At that time, the sheriff’s office took over the investigation and found what appeared to be even more human remains on Friday. He said it appears none of the human remains found had been here for very long when they were discovered.
“We need to investigate all possibilities. Were these human remains dismembered before being brought here? Or is what we are seeing the result of animal predation, i.e. an alligator” , Snyder said. “We are treating this as a homicide investigation. We cannot rule out the possibility that someone fell in the water and died of natural causes here, but that does not sound like us.”
Martin County Fire Rescue had dive teams scouring the canals for other possible human remains, as well as marine patrols and helicopters searching the area. However, the landscape and wildlife make research conditions hazardous.
“It’s thousands of acres and a lot of animals and it’s going to be a very difficult task for us,” Snyder said.
On Friday, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office announced that the arm, hand and part of a leg are believed to be those of Dustin Davis Mills, 42, of St. Lucie County, Florida, WPBF reported.
The medical examiner was able to determine the identity using fingerprints from Mill’s hand which investigators say were found near “a large alligator guarding the body part”.
Detectives suspect that Mills was the victim of a homicide, as his remains show evidence of having been dismembered with a sharp instrument.
According to the sheriff’s office, Mills served time in prison for numerous crimes, including drug trafficking, resisting arrest and assaulting a first responder.