Skull Found in Oak Park Lake Used For Religious Ritual: Hollywood Police

It was sent off for expert analysis shortly after being found

By Justin Finch
|  Wednesday, Jun 6, 2012  |  Updated 8:07 AM EDT
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Hollywood Police now believe a human skull found in the waters of Oak Park Lake near North 56th Avenue and Douglas Street was used for a religious ritual. Matthew Dickens and Spokeswoman Lt. Nicole Coffin tell NBC 6 what happened.

Hollywood Police now believe a human skull found in the waters of Oak Park Lake near North 56th Avenue and Douglas Street was used for a religious ritual. Matthew Dickens and Spokeswoman Lt. Nicole Coffin tell NBC 6 what happened.

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Hollywood Police now believe a human skull found in the waters of Oak Park Lake near North 56th Avenue and Douglas Street was used for a religious ritual.

"I was scared, that was my very first time seeing a skull before," Matthew Dickens said shortly after finding the skull in late January.

Spokeswoman Lt. Nicole Coffin told NBC 6 that soon after the skull was found in late January, it was sent off for expert analysis.

The results suggest whomever the skull once belonged to was likely not a victim of foul play. Based on the religious artifacts found with the skull and the clay container they were all found in, an anthropologist determined the skull was used in a Palo Mayombe ritual.

Palo Mayombe is a religion described as being similar to Santeria, but much darker. The ritualistic faith has roots in Central Africa, and made its way to the Caribbean and the Americas as the slave trade got underway in the 15th and 16th centuries.

A set of machetes, small tools and animal and human remains found in northwest Miami-Dade in April are also believed to have been used in a Palo Mayombe ritual.

"They often use human remains in their ceremonial sites, and that is exactly what we found at the bottom of the red pot, a skull with a chain wrapped around it," Richard Couto of the Animal Recovery Mission told NBC 6 in that case.

Watch a video of the northwest Miami-Dade findings here.

Police are continuing to study the skull found at Oak Lake Park for more clues.

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