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Florida Men Allegedly Dug Up Remains for Religious Ritual

4 sets of remains allegedly used in practice
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2021 3:30 AM CST

(Newser) – Two Florida men are accused of digging up four sets of human remains at a cemetery last month and using them in a religious ritual. Brian Montalvo Tolentino, 43, and Juan Burgos-Lopez, 39, allegedly removed the bodies, three of which were those of deceased veterans, from Edgewood Cemetery in Mount Dora. Investigators found six skulls in a shed at Burgos-Lopez's home, the Lake County Sheriff's Office says, as well as a shrine inside the house and other bones. Four of the skulls were identified as belonging to the stolen remains and two were found to be fake, NBC News reports.

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"They told detectives that they drove to the cemetery on December 6, 2020, and used a crowbar to remove the lids of the tombs," the Polk County Sheriff's Office says. "They removed the heads and other remains, and placed them in plastic bags, took them to Lake Wales, and placed them in the shrine." They allegedly told authorities they specifically needed remains of people who had committed heroic acts. The woman who discovered the vandalism at the cemetery tells WESH the head of one body had been taken, with the rest of the body left behind on the ground. The men face charges including disturbing contents of a grave and abuse of a dead body (Read more Florida stories.)

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