Animal sacrifice?

February 17, 2009 8:30:25 PM PST
Philadelphia police are pretty sure they've got a case of animal sacrifice on their hands, perhaps even the ritual of Santeria.

Officers with the SPCA arrived at the cemetery at Trinity Oxford Episcopal Church in Lawncrest Monday night and found the head of a goat and the remains of 5 roosters.

Investigators say animal sacrifices are happening with alarming frequency a half dozen within the past couple of months.

A bag full of organs and a candle were among the items left behind. Investigators found little blood at the scene indicating to them that the animals were used in some sort of religious ritual.

"All the blood is drained for the most part from these animals in these sacrifices and used in the ritual," said George Bengal, the director of law enforcement for the SPCA.

He's trying to track down the butchers responsible for the rash of sacrifices. In December, a similar sacrifice was performed in Pennypack Park on back to back nights in the same spot. 10 goats and roosters in all were killed.

"That was a little bit strange because the heads were all lined up for people to see," Bengal said.

Even stranger was the dead rooster placed outside a law office at Oxford and Wakeling a few days later.

"I believe that probably was someone who is disgruntled with that individual and maybe is trying to put a curse on him through this sacrifice."

Bengal believes the suspects responsible practice Santeria, a religion commonly practiced by people of Caribbean and Hispanic descent.

"To have this many in this short a period of time in one area of the city is quite a lot a lot of animals."

Bengal says because Pennsylvania's animal cruelty laws are so weak the perpetrators likely won't face animal cruelty charges. But they will face sanitation violations; the likely penalty is a couple hundred bucks in fines.

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