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MARGATE -- -- After finding a human skull and trinkets in a clay pot in a canal near the Oriole Executive Golf Course Monday morning, police launched a homicide investigation.
But such discoveries are not uncommon in South Florida and are often linked to ritualistic Afro-Caribbean religions.
The Margate skull was sent to the Broward County medical examiner for further examination, Lt. Andy Zettek, a spokesman for the Margate Police Department, said.
Uncertain whether the skull was acquired for "religious ritualistic purposes," detectives are -- for now -- handling the incident as a homicide investigation, Zettek said.
The race, gender and age of the skull are unknown, he said.
"We found it, it's human, and that's about all we know until the medical examiner, or someone in authority, can make a determination," Zettek said.
The skull was discovered about 11:30 a.m. near the ninth hole of the golf course at 8000 Margate Blvd., Zettek said.
The discovery generated a good bit of chatter on an otherwise slow day at the golf course and adjoining restaurant, bartender Jennifer Gallaudet said.
"As you can imagine, everybody that's here is definitely shocked," she said.
Divers from Sullivan Electric and Pump made the discovery in about 10- to 15-feet of water while working on an irrigation line, Zettek said.
The clay pot -- about the size of a one- or two-gallon jug -- broke apart when the diver brought it to shore, Zettek said.
As for the trinkets, Zettek declined to elaborate.
"They're dirty, obviously, with a lot of soil and mud," he said. "They have to be cleaned up to determine what exactly they are."
Human skulls found across South Florida often are traced to ritualistic Afro-Caribbean religions such as Santeria, Palo Mayombe or Voodoo.
Most recently, two women traveling to Baltimore from Cuba were detained at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in April when pots containing what appeared to be human skulls were found in their carry-on baggage.
The women said they bought the terra cotta pots at a religious shop in Cuba and were told the artifacts would "ward off evil spirits," authorities said.
The remains were sent to a laboratory at the University of Florida for further investigation.
And last year, when a human skull and artifacts were found in a clay pot in a lake in Hollywood, a forensic anthropologist concluded that it had been used for the Paolo Mayombe faith.
There was no sign of trauma to that skull, and investigators did not suspect foul play.
Margate police divers continue to search the canal near the golf course for additional remains or evidence, Zettek said.
Investigators urge anyone with information about the skull to call Detective Julio Fernandez at 954-972-7111.
firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-356-4542 or Twitter @talanez ___