18 Stories

Police Issue Warning to Bald Men in African Nation

They may be targeted for ritual attacks in Mozambique

(Newser) - Police have issued a warning to bald men in Mozambique: They could be targeted for ritual attacks. Five men were recently murdered for their body parts, the BBC reports. "The belief is that the head of a bald man contains gold," a police commander explains. "[Suspects']... More »

In Medieval England, Villagers Chopped Up Their Dead

Scientists think they feared a sort of zombie uprising

(Newser) - We humans can be a superstitious lot, and scientists are revealing yet another example of the extremes we'll go to in the fight to keep evil and danger at bay. In this case, experts report in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports that human bones excavated in 1963 and... More »

Woman Found Buried With Husband's Heart on Her Coffin

In a 'phenomenon that had until now not been noted'

(Newser) - Love never fails, and now researchers say they've discovered a burial ritual ostensibly designed to allow a couple's love to persist forever. Reporting in the journal PLOS One , they say that French noblewoman Louise de Quengo, who died at the age of 65 in 1656, was buried in... More »

Young Mom Dies in Pastor's Fiery Exorcism Attempt

Nicaraguan woman was bound, put into fire

(Newser) - A story out of a remote mining town in Nicaragua whose details are still being confirmed now has a clear and tragic outcome: The mother of two young children is dead, having suffered burns across 80% of her body. The Washington Post reports on the pieces being put together. It... More »

Cops: Ritualistic Murder May Be Tied to Blue Moon

Florida mother and her 2 sons had slit throats and hammer wounds

(Newser) - An elderly woman and her two sons have been found dead at their home in Pensacola, Fla., the apparent victims of what police are calling a ritualistic murder that coincided with last week's blue moon (ie the second full moon in July). Voncile Smith, 77, Richard Thomas Smith, 49,... More »

Catholics Nailed to Crosses in Philippines

Church opposes Good Friday ritual

(Newser) - Northern Philippines villagers commemorated Good Friday in their traditional manner , with penitents whipping themselves before some two dozen were nailed to crosses, reports Reuters . Thousands of tourists were on hand to watch and photograph the scene. A local sign painter, 52, has now performed the ritual 27 times; his screams... More »

Idaho Mystery: Dogs Are Vanishing

Almost 40 missing since November, with one possibly used in ritual killing

(Newser) - It's not safe to be man's best friend right now in southern Idaho. Nearly 40 dogs have disappeared since November, KPVI reports, and authorities fear they're meeting grisly fates. "The dogs seem to vanish into thin air," animal shelter director Debbie Blackwood tells Reuters . The... More »

Police Arrest Farmers for Child Sacrifice

Indian men killed girl to appease gods: police

(Newser) - Two men have been arrested in central India for allegedly killing a 7-year-old girl and cutting out her liver in a ritual sacrifice to ensure a better harvest, police said today. Lalita Tati disappeared in October and her dismembered remains were found a week later, said Rajendra Narayan Das, a... More »

Florida Police Employees Fired for Trying to Cast Spell

They allegedly tried to drive out superior with birdseed

(Newser) - A pair of Florida police employees had hoped their magic spell would get rid of their boss—but it wound up sending them packing instead. With budget cuts looming over the North Miami Police Department, longtime cop Elizabeth Torres and office manager Yvonne Rodriguez had plotted to sprinkle enchanted birdseed... More »

Ritual Sacrifice of Children on Rise in Uganda

Mutilated bodies likely victims of ceremonial murder

(Newser) - Ugandan police don't know who killed Caroline Aya, but they think they know why she was killed. The eight-year-old was found with her tongue cut out, a likely sign that she had been used in a ritual killing designed to bring wealth or happiness. The practice of human sacrifice is... More »

Jack Nicholson Wouldn't Mind Being Eaten by Vultures

Actor, 72, mulls Native American 'sky burial'

(Newser) - At 72, Jack Nicholson has been thinking about death, or, more particularly, burial arrangements. One option he finds appealing, he tells German TV, is a Native American practice that would leave his body to the vultures. “I liked the nature of the Indians who haul their bodies up into... More »

Docs Extract Life-Threatening Needles From Brazil Boy

Dozens still left in 2-year-old by father in bizarre ritual

(Newser) - Surgeons successfully removed four sewing needles today from the lung and near the heart of a Brazilian toddler, allegedly plunged into him by his stepfather during a month-long series of bizarre rituals. The surgery lasted nearly five hours, and the 2-year-old boy was in stable condition after the procedure. Dozens... More »

40 'Voodoo' Needles Found in Brazilian Toddler

Boy was used in black magic ritual: police

(Newser) - A Brazilian 2-year-old boy is in intensive care after his stepfather pushed up to 40 sewing needles in him as part of a black magic rite, authorities say. The man has confessed, telling investigators that his mistress ordered him to kill the boy to take revenge on his wife "... More »

In Picking Tennis Balls, Junk Science Meets OCD

(Newser) - The meticulous attention a pro tennis player gives to choosing balls ahead of a serve is a little bit of science with a healthy dose of superstition—or even stalling. Players say balls that have seen more play are fluffier and therefore have more drag, though the consensus is that... More »

Ugandan Child Murders Linked to Witch Doctors

US-backed task force struggles to quell brutal surge

(Newser) - Ritual murders and kidnappings continue to haunt Uganda despite police efforts to battle the horrors, the Guardian reports. Often linked to organ trafficking and witch doctors, some 300 cases were reported last year, and only 18 taken to court. A US-backed task force started this year has failed to stem... More »

'Gay Exorcism' at Conn. Church Draws Ire of Rights Groups

Boy, 16, thrashes and vomits in YouTube clip

(Newser) - A Connecticut church is under fire for performing a “gay exorcism,” WPIX-TV reports. A video posted on YouTube (since removed) by Manifested Glory Ministries shows priests commanding “homosexual demons” to leave the body of a 16-year-old boy. During the ritual the boy thrashes around, and even vomits.... More »

Five Found Guilty in Maori Exorcism Death

Mentally ill woman was drowned in attempt to purge her of evil spirits

(Newser) - Five people who drowned their niece in an attempt to rid her of evil spirits have been found guilty of manslaughter by a New Zealand court, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The 22-year-old woman, who prosecutors said was mentally ill, died after the group poured water over her face for... More »

Principal Fired for Staff Santeria Rites

Candles, incense and chicken blood didn't earn A's from bosses

(Newser) - A New York City public school principal's head is on the chopping block for forcing teachers to participate in spiritual cleansing rituals using chicken blood and incense, the AP reports. The principal paid another woman to perform several ceremonies practiced by followers of  Santeria, a Caribbean blend of  Christianity and... More »

18 Stories