MOUNT DORA, Florida — Cops nabbed a pair of ghoulish grave robbers who had been stealing skulls from a Florida cemetery for use in religious rituals.
Investigators with the Lake County Sheriff’s office managed to track the suspects down with the help of DNA evidence recovered from cigars found around the busted open crypts at the Edgewood Cemetery in Mount Dora.
The reprehensible robberies date back to Dec. 6, when cemetery workers found four tombs broken open and the bodies within mutilated, cops said.
When crime scene investigators found the cigar butts, they sent them off to the lab as possible evidence. In early January, analysis of the DNA retrieved from the cigars came back with a hit: 43-year-old Brian Montalvo Tolentino, of Davenport.
On Jan. 6, detectives obtained a search warrant for mouth swabs from Tolentino for a direct DNA comparison. When detectives interviewed Tolentino, they say he confessed to going to the cemetery with his pal, 39-year-old Juan Burgos Lopez, of Lake Wales, and committing the crimes.
Tolentino stated that Lopez used a crowbar to open the vaults and then removed the skulls that were taken to be used for religious practices.
Detectives then obtained a search warrant for Lopez’s residence where they say they recovered the human remains from what appeared to be some sort of religious shrine.
Both men were charged with four counts of disturbing the contents of a grave and four counts of abuse of a dead human body. They were each held on $40,000 bond.