FOX 32 NEWS - Some residents on the Northwest Side made a bizarre discovery while walking through the Cook County Forest Preserve in the Forest Glen neighborhood over the weekend. They stumbled across severed heads of goats and chickens, apparently part of an animal sacrifice ritual. A red strip of cloth was wrapped around one of the goat's heads.
"First I was appalled. I mean, just to think of the cruelty inflicted on that. And then I was thinking, 'Who would do that?'" said Kathy Kajari, a retired Chicago Police commander who lives in Forest Glen. She said she has been finding animal remains for most of 40 years she's lived in this neighborhood. "I've seen headless baby goats that have been found in the woods close to the river, chicken bodies everywhere. Sometimes little ritualistic setups adjacent to trees. Strips of white cloth, sometimes red cloth."
FOX 32 News and the Chicago Sun-Times have these animal sacrifices are happening in Forest Preserves throughout Cook County.
"Sometimes they are decapitated. Sometimes I'll find them, one or two in a box," said Forest Glen resident John Chismore.
Forest Preserve records show at least five reports of dismembered animals found in the past two years, including goats, chickens, roosters and pigeons.
Last June, police received a report of an animal sacrifice ritual being performed in Miller Meadow in west suburban Maywood. FOX 32 and the Sun-Times obtained a photo of that ritual showing several people dresssed in white carrying a chicken. We talked with Santeria preistess Alyce Colon, who said she took part in that ritual. Santeria is an Afro-Caribbean religion that grew out of the slave trade hundreds of years ago. Colon practices Santeria in the botanica she owns on Chicago's Southwest Side.
"We are on the north side. we are in the west. We are in the south. So it's very big," Colon said.
She said animals are sacrificed as part of a cleansing ritual to remove bad spirits or energy. She said the rituals are often performed in Forest Preserves and the remains are left on purpose.
"The bad energy will go. So whatever they took away from the person, they dump it over there so it will go away and never come back," Colon said.
She said the ritual performed last summer was meant to bring peace to Chicago. She also insists that animal sacrifice is protected by the Constitution, but a spokesperson for the Forest Preserve District said it is not allowed on their property. It is also illegal to dump anything in the woods, including animal parts which could carry disease.
"There is an ordinance on the books about cruelty to animals, so if our officers see somebody performing an animal sacrifice or harming an animal, they can and will be arrested," said spokesperson Lambrini Lukidis.