Theft of remains from mausoleum baffles family

July 31, 2012 3:46:19 PM PDT
Who would break into a mausoleum and steal the remains of a 98-year-old woman who died 16 years ago?

It's a question that has baffled the police and Pauline Spinelli's family.

"You're talking [about] her final resting place, she's supposed to be there forever," granddaughter Paula Spinelli-LaFollette said.

Police suspect Pauline's remains may have been taken for use in rituals by a sect known as Palo Mayombe.

It's a religious practice that originated among slaves in the Caribbean.

Practitioners use human remains in their altars as a source of power, especially the remains of strangers.

Over the past few years, human remains have been snatched from cemeteries in Perth Amboy, Woodbury, Passaic, and Newark.

Several practitioners were convicted in 2004 of robbing gravesites in two Newark Cemeteries.

Pauline Spinelli's family says she was deeply religious and they're disturbed by the possibility that her remains may be used in a pagan ritual of some kind.

They say it's bad enough that her tomb has been desecrated.

"You want to cry cause she went through so much trouble to get what she had there," a family member told Action News.

Spinelli's family says they and their grandmother won't rest until whoever did it is brought to justice.

"I can tell you my grandmother is probably haunting whoever stole her," Paula said.

The police and the Spinelli family are hoping someone with a conscience will help lead them to a suspect and return Pauline to her proper rest.


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