(Received 16 October 1980; accepted 5 December 1980)
Published Online: 1981
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The anatomic, cultural, and legal aspects of Santeria, a religious cult of African origin, as experienced by the Dade County Medical Examiner's Office, are presented. Human skeletal parts are generally found in association with an obvious ritual or may be discovered in shallow graves. Their ritualistic use is often suggested by their association with pennies, chicken feathers, evidence of prolonged internment, rust, or accoutrements characteristic of the cult. Although some specimens were obviously purchased or were previously used as anatomic specimens, others have obscure origins. In one instance the source was proven to be a grave robbing that had taken place 30 months earlier. The potential for “voodoo death“ and outright homicide is discussed. It is anticipated that evidence of Santeria rituals will extend to other parts of the United States as Carribbean immigration continues.
Deputy chief medical examiner, Dade County, Miami, Fla.
Research assistant, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Fla.
Stock #: JFS11392J