On June 25, 199, Brazilian police arrested voodoo priest Jose Augusto dos Santos on suspicion of robbing graves and making human sacrifices after finding 16 skulls and other bones buried beneath his home. Dos Santos, 40, is being investigated for allegedly sacrificing a small child and a man in a rare Afro- Brazilian religious ceremony aimed at winning favors from the devil.
"This man had pictures of Lucifer, Satan, all over the house. He had statues of him as well," said homicide investigator Marcio Peironi. "He says he bought all these bones from a worker at the cemetery. But we have reason to believe he may also have committed human sacrifice," he added. Peironi said Augusto dos Santos admitted to paying a grave digger for skulls and skeletons for use in black magic rituals at his home and "terreiro" (house of worship) in the remote state of Mato Grossoor.
Augusto dos Santos is known as a "pai-de-santo" (high priest) in Afro Brazilian religion. He told authorities his terreiro was used for Candomble ceremonies, in which West African gods possess followers' bodies during heated moments of dance and drumming. But the Candomble religion, like virtually all Afro- Brazilian religious practices, does not involve human sacrifice.
Police said they believe dos Santos was paid by middle and upper class followers of the darker, Quimbanda religion, where the pai-de-santo summons evil spirits to win favors from them.
Along with the remains of a young child buried beneath Augusto dos Santos' terreiro, police say they found a photo of a baby with the words "Para Morrer" or "To Die" written on the backside. The high priest, who denies allegations of murder, told local press the photo was of his own child. Police also believe they may have found the remains of Romualdo Pereira Barbosa, a man who had been missing since 1995, in the priest's house.