WHEN police arrived at the home of Ronald Huff, little could they imagine the horrors they were about to uncover.
After breaking into the ex-soldier’s apartment, they were confronted with the gruesome sight of seven enormous Nile monitor lizards feasting on the 42-year-old’s corpse.
The huge reptiles – flesh-eating, venomous and endemic to Africa – were covered in their owner’s blood and were hissing aggressively at the officers.
To date Ronald’s death remains one of the most terrifying and bizarre instances of a human being eaten by their pets.
Trinidad Navarro, former New Castle County Sheriff, told Animal Planet: “They received a call to check on the welfare of Ronald Huff.
“They knocked on the door but unfortunately there was no answer. They could hear things moving around inside when they were trying to gain entry.
“When they were finally able to get into the apartment they discovered Mr Huff’s body, slumped up against the door.
“The largest of the monitor lizards actually did have stained blood about his face and neck so we do know he was in fact chewing on the victim.”
To this day no-one knows if the lizards killed Ronald, or if the Newark, Delaware, car salesman died naturally and was then simply devoured by the free-roaming monsters.
Neighbour Jeff Wildonger said: “The smell from Ron’s apartment was coming up this hollow wall into our bathroom.
“I could see that his face was pretty well eaten, I could see his molars up where his ears should have been.”
An autopsy carried out by the State Medical Examiner in the weeks after Ronald’s 2002 death was unable to determine exactly how he died.
However, Mike Cassidy, Ronald’s former boss, later claimed his employee had once shown him injuries caused by the lizards’ bite marks, suggesting he had been attacked before.
Mike said: “He was found near the door like he was trying to leave. One of the policeman had said that Ron was actually still alive when the lizards started to feed on him. They took his life.”
Nile monitor lizards feast on small creatures, such as mice and rats, in the wild. Those in captivity are usually fed raw chicken.