The curious are beginning to seek out a bizarre site that sits nestled up against a major roadway in northwest Miami-Dade. The ground is littered with pots full of small tools, machetes, the remains of animals – and, before the police arrived, human bones and a skull.
Richard Couto explains that it is a site for sacrificial rituals performed by practitioners of the Palo Mayombe religion.
"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,” he said.
The skull looked weathered and Couto says he thinks it probably came from a local cemetery. "Members of the Palo Mayombe sect often rob graves."
Couto heads the Animal Recovery Mission, best known in South Florida for shutting down illegal horse slaughterhouses. It was the practice of animal sacrifice that drew the activist's attention. He became a self-educated expert on African religions that have strong roots in South Florida.
"When I started going through this one particular pot bringing out all the sacrificed animals, goats, sheep, dogs, cats, on the bottom was that human skull," Couto said.
He finds the site "creepy" but says since he is not a believer it does not bother him.
Miami-Dade Police are working on the case along with the medical examiner.