Police are confirming that bones found in a Pasadena, Calif., backyard are anything but artificial; they’re human. Authorities accidentally stumbled upon the skull and bones, along with animal horns, candles and incense on top of an altar while in pursuit of a trespasser. Naturally, they decided to investigate where the human remains originated — a process that is still ongoing.
A man emerging from the home told reporters that the human bones present at the site were purchased on eBay and are being used for religious purposes.
The individual speaking out, who identified himself only as “Jose,” said that his sister was using the remains for religious purposes and that she practices Palo Mayombe, a faith system that is an offshoot of Santeria. The BBC describes Santeria as follows:
Santeria (Way of the Saints) is an Afro-Caribbean religion based on Yoruba beliefs and traditions, with some Roman Catholic elements added. The religion is also known as La Regla Lucumi and the Rule of Osha.
Santeria is a syncretic religion that grew out of the slave trade in Cuba.
KNBC has more about this shocking backyard find:
Authorities have made it clear that they are not investigating the woman’s religion and that it is the human remains that are of concern.
“The religious aspect of the case is not our focus — it’s the bones,” Pasadena Police Lt. Ed Calatayud told KNBC-TV.
It’s apparently not uncommon to find human skulls for sale on the Internet. One listing that claims to offer a real human skill is currently on eBay for $710.
But while Jose said his sister is practicing Palo Mayombe, an expert who saw images of the altar told KNBC that the symbols appear to be more rooted in the cult surrounding Santa Muerte, the Saint of Death. While both Santeria and the cult of Santa Muerte employ the use of altars, they are not the same.
Dr. R. Andrew Chesnut said worship of Santa Muerte has increased quite a bit over the past 1o years in both the U.S. and Mexico.
“What it really is, is a fusion of medieval Catholicism and native Mexican folk religion,” Chesnut said of the belief system surrounding the Saint of Death. “The bones themselves are often believed to have special powers.”
Here’s more about the controversial cult:
While no criminal activity is suspected, the coroner’s office has taken the bones and is attempting to determine their origins.