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Voodoo shrine found near Hutchins

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ERIC CORNELISON
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HUTCHINS - The seemingly remote Dowdy Ferry Road area has served as a frequent dumping ground, but what was found Jan. 29 was something Dallas Police Sgt. Gary Kirkpatrick said he hadn't seen in the 20 years he had been on the job.

'That is the first voodoo shrine that I've found,' said Kirkpatrick.

According to reports from police and religious experts, a pot containing a human skull, a machete and other strange objects could be part of a Palo Mayombe shrine, artifacts of an Afro-Caribbean religion.

Religious scholars said despite stereo-types, there was no element of human sacrifice in Palo Mayombe or other Afro-Caribbean religions, such as Santeria or Voodoo.

The three-legged iron vessel was wrapped in black and red cloth and held more than was previously reported.

The vessel contained animal bones, chicken feathers, a machete, an 18-inch statue of a man carved out of wood and of course, the human skull bringing suspicion to Hutchins and the surrounding area.

Hutchins Detective Emily Owens said it remained a mystery why the shrine was in the woods, because the vessel was usually associated with home worship.

'We don't think there was any rituals going on out at the site,' she said.

'There may be a reason why it was out there. I haven't found that out yet.'

Palo Mayombe originated in the Congo in west-central Africa.

Like Santeria and Voodoo, it spread to the Caribbean through the slave trade and to the U.S. after the Cuban exodus in the 1960s.

Palo Mayombe is a naturalistic religion in which followers believe in drawing energy from the earth and the venerations of the spirits of the ancestors according to wikipedia.org.

And strangely enough, anyone can go on ebay and buy a human skull anywhere from $64 to $660, even though the skulls were for medical or dental study.

Others say the vessel may have been disposed of after its owner died, allowing it to return to nature.

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