Human Hearts Found Pinned to Couples Photo in Cemetery
COLMA, CA – A maintenance worker’s macabre discovery has sparked a police investigation into the identities of two couples whose photos were found pinned to human hearts and buried at a cemetery.
The worker was in an isolated part of the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery on Oct. 12 when he spotted the tops of two jars sticking out of the ground and knelt down to take a closer look, said Colma police Cmdr. Jon Read.
He pulled one of the jars from the dirt, saw what was in it, and then he called Colma police.
Police opened up one jar and found a human heart with the photo of a young man and woman pinned to it.
Nearby there was a second jar with the same contents, but bearing a photo of a different young man and woman. Officers also found partially burned cigars and candles, Read said.
The San Mateo County coroner’s preliminary investigation shows the hearts contain embalming fluid and likely come from dead bodies.
There have been no reports of other graves being disturbed at cemeteries in Colma or in the rest of San Mateo County. Read said officers are working with other police agencies to track down the source of the organs.
“This is the first time we have had anything like this,” said Read. He said there are occasional reports of animal carcasses sighted in the town’s other burial sites.
“The investigation appears to lean toward some kind of ritual involving Santeria,” Read said. Santeria is an Afro-Caribbean religion that melds Catholicism with traditional African religious beliefs.
Two experts on the religion say otherwise. They said it is unlikely that the hearts were buried by people practicing Santeria, because the faith does not call for human organs to be used in rituals.
“I would be totally shocked if it was related to Santeria or Voodoo,” said Miguel De La Torre, a professor at Iliff Divinity School in Denver. “If it is connected to Santeria it would be by people who don’t know what they are doing.”
Police say the investigation is ongoing, and they haven’t ruled out the whole thing could just be a prank.
But the Colma police aren’t laughing. Read said it is a crime to dig up body parts, and it’s also illegal to buy, sell or transport them.
“You’re probably in possession of stolen property if you have a human organ like that,” Read said.
Anyone with information about the hearts is asked to call Colma police at 650-997-8321 or their anonymous tip line at 650-997-8337.
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