Coroner hopes positive ID in gator attack brings closure to family


St. Tammany authorities say they hope the positive identification of human remains recovered from the belly of a 12-foot alligator brings the family some closure, more than three weeks after the deadly attack.

St. Tammany Coroner Dr. Charles Preston says he has never quite had a case like this.

"I have to say that this is the first time that we've recovered remains from inside of an animal," he said. But Dr. Preston has had cases where remains had been partially preyed upon, or were in advanced decomposition, and he said the methods are mostly the same.

Dr. Preston says not only was DNA useful in confirming the identity, the victim's widow was able to give them information on Timothy Satterlee Sr.'s surgical history.

"We could see rotator cuff repair, we were able to see some evidence of a hernia repair," Dr. Preston explained. And he said that despite the incident having happened last month, the remains they recovered may not have been inside the animal that long.

"From our consultations with wildlife and fisheries, they said that it was likely that some parts may have been ingested at different times, and that's why they were in different state of decomposition," he said.

And Dr. Preston says he hopes the conclusion of this case bring the Satterlee family some closure and peace.

"I did have the privilege of meeting with Mrs. Satterlee, and you know, she was clearly impacted by this, and I think the whole family has been really, significantly impacted." the coroner said. "I just hope people will have compassion for their position, and maybe a little softer in the speculation on social media."