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Posted by W von Papinešu on April 19, 2003 at 22:15:25:
In Reply to: FL Press: Alligator's Death Haunts Woman **Disturbing** posted by W von Papinešu on April 18, 2003 at 20:33:46:
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES (Florida) 19 April 03 Beaten alligator found floating - Office workers chase off two men trying to load the bound animal into a pickup. The gator is later found dead. (Jamie Jones)
Elfers: From her office window, Beth Richards had watched the alligator for about five years, had seen her emerge from the murky pond, lie in the shade, tend to 12 alligators she had in November. Occasionally, the 6-foot female would carry a baby on her back.
Richards works in an office at the Wyndlake Plaza on Old County Road 54 and her window overlooks a lake, home to turtles and alligators. The 47-year-old is accustomed to chasing off children and teens who throw rocks and taunt the animals.
On Monday, Richards saw two men in their 20s arrive with fishing poles. They were possibly dangling chicken necks in the water. Richards didn't think much of them until she heard a loud noise, a pounding, six or seven times.
She walked on the deck outside her office, about 10 feet above the ground. The noise stopped. Then rustling. The men were beneath the deck, and she couldn't see what was going on. Suspicious, Richards called the Sheriff's Office.
She and her colleague, Denise Mattimore, who both work for radio talk show host Bruce Williams, saw the men back a red Ford Ranger near the water.
The men were trying to load the alligator, wrapped in rope and fishing line, into their truck.
The women started screaming, telling the men to leave the alligator alone. First, they protested, then Richards yelled that she had copied their license plate number and called the Sheriff's Office.
The men put the alligator in the lake and left.
The alligator went belly up. Then she righted herself. Then she disappeared beneath the water.
Richards said she called the Sheriff's Office again and told them what had happened. She said the agency directed her to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which sent officer Henry Perez.
Richards said the officer interviewed her and looked around for the alligator. Perez could not be reached on Friday.
News of the alligator beating quickly spread through the office complex. Everyone watched the lake, hoping for a glimpse of her.
Two days later, on Wednesday, they saw her. Floating. Dead. Still wrapped in fishing line.
"We were very upset," Mattimore said. "It's just cruel."
Officer Perez arrested one of the men on Thursday. Jon J. Kiger, 23, of 6137 First Ave. in New Port Richey, was charged with attempting to kill or take an alligator, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and $5,000.
Deputies have not located the other man.
"I don't want to see them go to jail for the rest of their lives, but they should be fined or get some type of punishment," Mattimore said.
Richards said she didn't understand it.
"It's not that I love alligators," she said. "But to intentionally hurt something like that, gosh."