Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
MARTIN COUNTY -- A search for human remains that began when an alligator was spotted with a human arm in it's mouth led to the discovery of a shallow grave on the Hungryland Preserve on Friday, March 11.
According to a Facebook posts shared by the Martin County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), a state biologist spotted what appeared to be a human arm in an alligator's mouth near a canal on the preserve on Wednesday.
The arm and hand were recovered from the canal bank, where the remains were being guarded by a large alligator. MCSO and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers began a search of the preserve. Martin County Fire Rescue divers searched the alligator-infested canals under the watchful eye of a MCSO sniper.
The search continued Thursday and a second body part was located on the bank of a different canal about one mile from the first location.
According to MCSO detectives, the arm, hand, and part of a leg are believed to be that of 42-year old Dustin Davis Mills of St. Lucie County.
On Friday morning, a FWC officer found what appeared to be a shallow grave with human remains.
The medical examiner was able to obtain fingerprints from the victim’s hand.
Detectives, the MDFR Dive Team and FWC officers combed hundreds of acres of preserve land searching for the remainder of Mills's body.
"Detectives suspect that Mills was the victim of a homicide. The body parts did show evidence of being removed with a sharp instrument," the MCSO post states.
According to MCSO, "Dustin Mills served time in prison for multiple crimes including manufacturing, sale and delivery of marijuana, trafficking in illegal substances, resisting arrest with violence, and battery on law enforcement or firefighter. He was released from the Department of Corrections on February 2020, and has not had a permanent address since that release."
If you have any information about Mills or this crime, please call the Martin County Sheriff’s Office at 220-7060, or message MCSO on Facebook.
Hungryland Preserve covers more than 16,600 acres in Martin and Palm Beach counties.