Human hearts pinned with photos found in cemetery

COLMA, Calif.

Colma is known as the City of the Dead; over 1.5 million bodies are buried in the city which is home to only 1,500 living people.

Investigators say photos of young couples were pinned to the bottles. Next to jars were partially burned cigars and candles.

Colma police say the San Mateo County Coroner's office examined the organs and discovered that there was evidence of embalming fluids. They most likely came from dead bodies.

Police are looking at the possibility that they had been used in some kind of African-Caribbean spiritual ritual.

Colma Police Cmdr. Jon Read says investigators are looking at some leads from the pictures but would not say if they were close to identifying them. He says the hearts may have been stolen from a mortuary.

But religious studies professor Maryanne Delaporte says police can eliminate the more commonly known Santeria ritual for one obvious reason.

"It's definitely something religious, but I can't think of anything that would be associated with African religions and Catholicism that have anything to do with human body parts; they use animal parts, chickens in particular," she said.

Read points out that it is a crime to dig up body parts and it is also illegal to buy, sell or transport them.

Police say they have some leads based on the photographs.

Copyright © 2024 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.