A birdwatcher working the fields of Yolo County found a collection of five beheaded chickens and a single similarly slain turtle Sunday – the 13th discovery of mutilated animals in the Sacramento area since the start of the year.
Yolo County authorities dispatched an animal control officer to the area of Babel Slough and South River roads shortly after the birdwatcher at 2 p.m. called in a report of animal carcasses, a sheriff’s sergeant said.
The inclusion of the turtle in one of the two brown Raley’s shopping bags that contained the carcasses led Gina Knepp, who runs Sacramento’s Front Street Animal Shelter, to believe the remains might be related to Santerian or other religious rites that include animal sacrifices.
“The turtle is a sign of Santeria, based on the little I know,” Knepp said.
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More prevalent in Florida than California, the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria includes animal sacrifice as a staple of its practice. Chickens, goats and other animals are used in its rituals, according to articles on the religion contained in The Bee’s archives.
The birdwatcher was a woman who asked that her name not be published out of her fear generated by the animal mutilations. “It looks very fresh,” she said of her discovery. “The blood is very red.”
She said there also appeared to be “extremely simplistic” drawings on the bags. She could not tell if the drawings represented people or animals.
“It looked to me like stick drawings of a head and a neck with a line drawn through it,” she said.
The Sunday discovery was the first reported since a Sacramento Bee reporter on March 4 found a bag of decapitated chickens along the railroad tracks at 20th and W streets.
Knepp said Sunday’s find was the second that included a turtle. “It could just be young kids doing strange stuff,” she said. “The possibilities are endless.”
Call The Bee’s Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.