updated 3/16/2005 12:07:57 AM ET 2005-03-16T05:07:57

A man found dead in a pond was the victim of a nearly nine-foot alligator that was captured and killed, the medical examiner’s office said Tuesday.

Officials did not know what Don Owen, 56, a truck driver from Bartow, was doing at the pond about a dozen miles from his home. He had been missing since Wednesday when he was seen at a convenience store.

On Saturday his remains were found by several men fishing in Six Pound Pond. An autopsy determined he had been killed by the eight-foot, nine-inch alligator, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.

Trappers caught the alligator Monday. Owen’s forearm was found in its stomach.

Residents said they had fed the alligator, which is illegal and dangerous, said Gary Morse, spokesman for the wildlife commission.

Alligators normally flee from humans unless threatened or cornered, but alligators that have been fed by humans begin to look at them as a food source, he noted.

Since 1948, 330 alligator attacks have been documented by the commission. Sixteen have been fatal, including Owen’s.

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