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Posted: 1/11/2006 6:50:39 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/11/2006 8:07:32 PM EDT by Johninaustin]
..I'm doing death investigations these days, and I had a decedent found in a wooded area near some railroad tracks. Obvious suicide.

What I have is an older white male, recently moved into the area. Made his living thru playing guitar in bars and doing landscape work. Possibly a Katrina refugee. No known family ties, and no friends I have yet been able to identify. This individual took his dog and a shotgun into the woods, and laid an indian style blanket out with a grouping of turkey and chicken feathers, a large clam shell, and a handmade walking stick tied with colored string in geometric patterns. There was a homemade torch made of straw and melted wax tied with string. The subject himself was dressed in sweats and a T-shirt.

What the on scene evidence points to is that in the dark, he lit the torch, laid out the blanket, feathers and walking stick, shot his dog, burned some of the dog's hair and blood in the clam shell. (It's decorated with holes drilled in a circular pattern) then stuck the shotgun in his mouth while standing on the blanket. He fell facing east. He mailed a letter to a former boss telling him where his body would be. The gist of the letter is: "I'm tired of the shit. I'm checking out and taking the dog with me".

My question is: Does this have a religious component that you are familiar with? One of the other guys thinks it's some sort of Santeria, I'm not so sure. It could be he was just crazy. Any thoughts?
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 7:28:40 PM EDT
No expert here. But ... Lived in Miami most of my life. Know a LOT of Cubans and Carribean natives. Seen a bit of Santeria. 16+ yrs in Fed BOP Corrections. My 1st thought was not Santeria, but Native American. Many non-NAs adopt certain practices/beliefs while incarcerated. Tattoos ? Just a thought. Good luck & Stay safe

I'll show this around a bit at work to see if anyone does see a Santeria connection.
Link Posted: 1/13/2006 5:26:11 AM EDT
My first thought was Native American as well. You might try posting on the religion forum.
Link Posted: 1/13/2006 6:47:02 AM EDT
OK. I checked with an actual “Palero” here at the prison. In layman’s terms, he is a practitioner of religious beliefs that run parallel to Santeria, (which he is very familiar with) but with an emphasis on working with the dead; animals and bones.. It is the Palero’s opinion that this had nothing to do with Santeria. He mentioned that sacrificing cats and dogs are only to do some harm, or cause some bad outcome. Sacrificing a dog is very uncommon. Cats, yes, but not dogs. Also that shotgunning would probably not be the killing method over cutting the animal’s throat. He mentioned that it had tones of “voodoo”, (there could be another New Orleans connection) or, that the guy could have been “crazy”. FWIW, we also had a couple of Native American inmates in on the discussion, and the first thing they mentioned when I read your post out loud was that it sounded more like Native American than any other one thing; the blanket, turkey feathers, holes in a circle on the shell. “Life is a circle” is a big theme with them. I hope this helps. Stay safe.
Link Posted: 1/13/2006 8:00:04 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/13/2006 8:05:36 AM EDT by Johninaustin]

Originally Posted By sparkyCG:
OK. I checked with an actual “Palero” here at the prison. In layman’s terms, he is a practitioner of religious beliefs that run parallel to Santeria, (which he is very familiar with) but with an emphasis on working with the dead; animals and bones.. It is the Palero’s opinion that this had nothing to do with Santeria. He mentioned that sacrificing cats and dogs are only to do some harm, or cause some bad outcome. Sacrificing a dog is very uncommon. Cats, yes, but not dogs. Also that shotgunning would probably not be the killing method over cutting the animal’s throat. He mentioned that it had tones of “voodoo”, (there could be another New Orleans connection) or, that the guy could have been “crazy”. FWIW, we also had a couple of Native American inmates in on the discussion, and the first thing they mentioned when I read your post out loud was that it sounded more like Native American than any other one thing; the blanket, turkey feathers, holes in a circle on the shell. “Life is a circle” is a big theme with them. I hope this helps. Stay safe.



Actually it tells me a great deal. I STILL have not found any relatives of this guy, but every contact I talk to mentions the vast amount of hostility for family and ex-relationships this guy had. Maybe this was one last "get even" thing.
Unfortunately, I'm pretty much at a dead end. I'll probably just leave the case open and rotate him for county burial.
Link Posted: 1/13/2006 3:12:09 PM EDT
Running finger prints an option??
Link Posted: 1/13/2006 7:33:26 PM EDT
You aughta go back and talk to his landscaping coworkers and the people that frequent the bar. Might give you a little more detail on how he operated.

And, without breaking OPSEC, how far from the body did you search? Check the area for buried/burnt items.

Finally, if he's a transient, see if you can find a bum village near where he kacked himself. Maybe he still has belongings, or some of the other inhabitants can tell you more.....


-Shawn
Link Posted: 1/13/2006 8:50:35 PM EDT

Originally Posted By high_order1:
You aughta go back and talk to his landscaping coworkers and the people that frequent the bar. Might give you a little more detail on how he operated.

And, without breaking OPSEC, how far from the body did you search? Check the area for buried/burnt items.

Finally, if he's a transient, see if you can find a bum village near where he kacked himself. Maybe he still has belongings, or some of the other inhabitants can tell you more.....


-Shawn



No, not a transient. Had quite a nice little home actually. I already know who he his, (Heck, I have his tax records back 20 years) so fingerprints won't be much help. Didn't search much of an area, (maybe 50 ft across) had to find him with a helicopter and hike in. VERY thick cedar brush around these parts. His co-workers were no help at all, he's only been here since October. He had an address book in his home, over 50 phone numbers all across the country. Not ONE knew him by name. The finance folks are going to be really pissed when they get the long distance bill.
Link Posted: 1/13/2006 9:06:14 PM EDT
Since this was a white male it may have what HE interpreted as NA religious significance that has no real meaning in the NA community. We've all run across some EDP who believes himself to be some shaman or "medicine man" of some obscure NA tribe. They read some books, watch a few A&E, History Channel, Discovery shows and form their own religious ideology based off of NA cultures.

While I'm no NA expert, this does sound like a culture leech.
Link Posted: 1/13/2006 9:32:36 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/13/2006 9:34:12 PM EDT by Mr10anahaf]
If you have the guys ID check the local library and see if he had a card or anyone there remebers him, see what kind of books he was checking out. Maybe this guy wanted to kill himself and his current religion would not allow it. So go to the library find a few books on religions that are OK with suicide, follow their practices / rituals, pull the trigger and hope for the best.

My bet is he took the dog along to help him pass through the after life. Animal guides area not all that uncommon in many religions.
Link Posted: 1/13/2006 10:25:35 PM EDT

Originally Posted By cmoth:
Since this was a white male it may have what HE interpreted as NA religious significance that has no real meaning in the NA community. We've all run across some EDP who believes himself to be some shaman or "medicine man" of some obscure NA tribe. They read some books, watch a few A&E, History Channel, Discovery shows and form their own religious ideology based off of NA cultures.

While I'm no NA expert, this does sound like a culture leech.



That is what I was thinking.

sensitive earthy musician guy... just symbolic things that he thought were spiritual, used to make peace with himself so he could do the deed.

Link Posted: 1/14/2006 1:49:26 PM EDT
How did you determine he was white and not native american?? Have you had a forensic anthropologist look at him?? I live in Okla. and damn near everyone is some sort of native American.
Link Posted: 1/14/2006 2:02:46 PM EDT
Native American

Feather Arrangements (Circular). Found on pottery, on masks, prayer fans, costumes for dance and on Plains "war bonnets". Also used on decorated buffalo hides telling a story in paint remembering war honors, important historic events and other periods of time. Placed in a circular arrangement, they are related to the sun, and thereforth, the Creator.

Circle

It is significant of life's cycles and eternal motion and also of the choices we are always confronted with. Correct choices lead us to harmony with all things, no matter how long & hard the road can get.
Link Posted: 1/14/2006 4:54:06 PM EDT

Originally Posted By OKLA-LAWMAN:
How did you determine he was white and not native american?? Have you had a forensic anthropologist look at him?? I live in Okla. and damn near everyone is some sort of native American.



There aren't a lot of Indians with German names. He also describes himself on job apps as white.
Link Posted: 1/15/2006 11:09:01 AM EDT
Voo doo, especially if you think he may be from New Orleans or that area cause there is a ton of it down there. They use a lot of chicken parts and such and are into pouring and drinking animal blood for cleansing(sp) rituals.
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