2 Florida men accused of robbing graves for religious ritual
MOUNT DORA, Fla. (AP) — Two central Florida men are accused of stealing skulls from a cemetery and using them for “religious practices,” sheriff’s officials said.
Lake County Sheriff’s officials said in a Facebook post on Thursday that the thefts occurred Dec. 6 at Edgewood Cemetery in Mount Dora, which is near Orlando.
Investigators found evidence, including cigars, at the gravesites. They sent the evidence to a lab for DNA testing, the post said.
The DNA samples were then submitted into a database for comparison, officials said. One sample matched Brian Montalvo Tolentino, 43, of Davenport.
Detectives contacted the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and detectives obtained a search warrant for mouth swabs from Tolentino for a direct DNA comparison.
Investigators from Lake County then interviewed Tolentino, who confessed to going to the cemetery with Juan Burgos Lopez, 39, of Lake Wales.
Tolentino told detectives that Lopez used a crowbar to open the vaults and then removed the items that were taken and used for religious practices, the sheriff’s office said.
Detectives from Polk County got a search warrant for Lopez’s residence to try to locate the remains. They found some items within what appeared to be a religious shrine.
The men were arrested on charges of disturbing the contents of a grave and abuse of a dead body. Jail records did not list attorneys for either man.
Polk County officials may add additional criminal charges, the post said.
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