Update: Those Dark Rituals We Don’t Understand

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  July 10, 2009 — 4 Comments

Remember yesterday when I complained about some apparently secret evidence in a New Jersey case of a grave-robbing, and the subsequent racial profiling of people who “practice Satanic rituals” (ie Santeria and Palo)?

“Capt. Richard Conklin of the Stamford Detective Bureau said Wednesday that police are targeting people of African, Central American, Haitian, Cuban or Caribbean decent who practice satanic rituals as potential suspects in the grave robbing. “We’re starting to look at this as a ritualistic-type incident,” said Conklin … Conklin said evidence recovered at the grave site and in New Jersey indicate the body was taken for ritualistic reasons. For fear of compromising the investigation, he would not go into specifics …”

Well, the police have decided reveal some of the evidence that has them rounding up the usual African diasporic suspects, and it doesn’t exactly paint a convincing picture of Satanic Santeros.

New Jersey police investigators say sacrificed chicken remains were found a quarter-mile from the body of a two-year-old girl taken from her Stamford grave. Sgt. Robert Bracken, a juvenile detective with the Clifton Police Department, said there is still no direct link between a possible ritual and the discovery of 2-year-old Imani Joyner, who died in 2007. Two fishermen found her body Sunday in a sealed garbage bag in the Passaic River, and an investigation led Clifton police to Stamford. Up river in Elmwood Park, authorities also found a bag containing chicken parts and believe them to be part of a sacrificial ritual, Bracken said. “Other towns around us have found sacrificed animals,” Bracken said. “I wouldn’t say it happens every day, but it’s not uncommon either.”

Despite the police admitting there’s no direct link between this grave-robbing and Santeria/Palo, and despite the fact they admit finding sacrificed animals around that area isn’t “uncommon”, and even though Sgt. Bracken said that there was “no evidence of a ritual” found near her body, they are still proceeding with the theory that this is a ritualistic act.

“From all the signs and info we have gathered, that’s where it’s pointed right now,” Conklin said. “If we get other information that points somewhere else, we’ll go that way.” In Clifton, Bracken said police are not narrowly focused on the body theft as a being part of a ritual, but investigators are seeing whether there’s a connection between the obscure beliefs and a motive behind the theft.

At this point they had better hope it was some crazed rogue Santero or Palero digging up what they thought was a “magical” corpse. Because if it turns out to be some run-of-the-mill insane fellow, or disturbed teenagers, the police will have wasted countless man-hours on a racist, religiously discriminatory, and futile line of inquiry. Even if it was a Palero, or some superstitious adherent to Palo, they are handling this in such a way as to damage relations between law enforcement and these religious communities for a long time.

Jason Pitzl-Waters