HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A man described by police as a Santeria priest caught with human remains in his Connecticut home agreed on Monday to go to Massachusetts to face accusations that he stole the five skeletons from a mausoleum.
Amador Medina, 32, made a brief court appearance in Hartford on Monday and agreed to be taken by police to Worcester, where authorities allege he stole the remains two months ago from a family mausoleum that dates to 1903.
Police arrested Medina on Friday after the remains were found in his Hartford apartment. Medina told police he was a Santeria priest and wanted the human bones for religious and healing ceremonies, said Hartford Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley.
"We see (Santeria) rarely in Hartford," Foley said. "When we do, it's generally with animals. Very even more rarely you get human remains."
Authorities said they found two garbage bags containing remains on Medina's porch. Inside the apartment, officers found human bones, what appeared to be animal remains and shrines with candles, according to court documents.
Worcester police were expected to pick up Medina in Hartford later Monday and bring him back to their city to face charges.
Medina's public defender didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the allegations. His relatives and friends declined to comment outside the courtroom.
Santeria mixes Roman Catholicism with a traditional African faith. Scholars say it was imported to Cuba through slaves brought from the Nigeria's Yoruba tribe, and it is now widely practiced in the Caribbean.
Foley said police have learned that practitioners of Santeria use human bones for medicinal purposes, and the age of the deceased and how long they have been dead are relevant to those practices.
The remains of three adults and two young children were stolen from the Houghton family mausoleum in Hope Cemetery in Worcester, where police have obtained an arrest warrant charging Medina with five counts of disinterment of bodies and other crimes.
The mausoleum was built for the family of Charles Chandler Houghton, a prosperous boot manufacturer and real estate developer in Worcester, The Telegram & Gazette newspaper reported.