POSTED: 4:42 pm EDT June 23, 2008
Because it’s considered a religious act, sheriff deputies say they can’t do anything about the issue. Now the homeowner’s association is trying to find a way to resolve it.
Those who live in the neighborhood along Lake Underhill say, in the last month, the new residents have brought in plenty of animals, but none seem to have left. When Eyewitness News went to the home Monday, there were empty cages on the side of the house.
On Friday, it came to a head when homeowners called deputies about a group of goats being led into the home.
“I don’t want them to hurt animals. I don’t care what animals they are,” said one unidentified neighbor who is spooked by the practice of chicken and goat sacrifices at her neighbor’s home.
Inside the rented house, deputies told Jade Forest homeowners they interrupted a goat sacrifice on Friday as part of a Santeria ceremony.
“I don’t like any kind of odd thing happening. I mean, I don’t know? Maybe that’s where they start and then go further with dogs and cats,” the unidentified neighbor said.
It’s not likely in the Santeria religion, where only goats and chickens are sacrificed, but neighbors have done research recently. The Internet offers plenty on sacrifice rituals with chickens and goats. In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that humane religious animal sacrifice is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
On the porch of the home Monday there were rotting meatballs and watermelon, along with a religious vase. Eyewitness News reporter Steve Barrett tried to ask about the Santeria practices, but was politely turned away.
“We can’t take no pictures of our religion,” a woman at the door said. “Nothing to say.”
“Apparently, because of some religious beliefs people were sacrificing animals in the home,” said neighbor Andy Bowman.
Neighbors find it all very bizarre. Meanwhile, it seems there is little even homeowner’s association can do. Their bylaws don’t seem to have animal sacrifice provisions, so the HOA is weighing its legal options and letting the home’s owner know what his tenants are doing in there.
“In a home four or five houses from my home, I’d rather it not be happening,” Bowman said.
In the rituals, the animals are actually cooked and eaten as well. Santeria was brought to the U.S. by Nigerians hundreds of years ago and made popular in the Caribbean islands.
This isn’t the first case of religious sacrifice in Orange County. In March 2005 Eyewitness News exposed a house in the Oak Ridge area where sheriff detectives found a shed with skulls, candles and animals. They also found drugs and guns. Investigators believe the tenants were sacrificing all kinds of animals as part of a weekly religious ritual.