02/19/2013 01:57 pm ET Updated Feb 19, 2013

Human Remains, Makeshift Altar Found At Pasadena Home Of Alleged Santeria Practitioners

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Human remains and a makeshift altar were recently discovered in the backyard of a California home where the resident reportedly practiced Santeria.

Police are currently investigating the discovery of a skull and other human bones found in the yard of a Pasadena, Calif., home at North Oakland Avenue on Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Times. Police also found animal bones, incense, candles and an apparent makeshift altar.

The couple living in the home reportedly practices Santeria, Fox affiliate WPMT reports.

Santeria is an an Afro-Caribbean religion based on Yoruba beliefs, the BBC notes. There are few public buildings devoted to the faith, but practitioners often construct altars in their homes upon which to practice rituals. Animal sacrifice is central to the religion. It is a constitutional right for Santeria worshippers to kill animals for sacrifice, an act performed for life events and initiation into the faith.

On Monday, Southern California affiliate KNBC reported that a man who left the home claimed his sister's family purchased the bones off eBay for religious purposes.

"What caught my eye was that the backyard altar was obviously primarily an altar to Santa Muerte, the Saint of Death ... whose cult has been mushrooming both in the United States and Mexico over the past decade," R. Andrew Chesnut, a professor of Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, told the station.

Chesnut previously spoke to Virginia's WWBT network about the development of the cult in the United States, revealing that Santa Muerte is associated with miracles. She is known as the saint for sinners and attracts the likes of Mexican drug cartels, criminals and prostitutes.

Last year, the deaths of two 10-year-old boys and a 55-year-old woman were believed to be linked to Santa Muerte sacrifices, according to the Associated Press.



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