A man from Bronx was arrested Friday after desecrating a Stratford cemetery, stealing ashes from their final resting place and using the remains in religious ceremonies last year.
In all, the cremation urns containing the remains of 18 people were stolen from a vault at Union Cemetery on June 23, 2016, police said. The vault was smashed in the process, police said.
The suspected grave robber, Aneudy Davila, 36, was charged with interference with a cemetery, criminal mischief and sixth-degree larceny, then released on $5,000 bond.
A witness told police that Davila’s girlfriend had conducted rituals involving dead chickens and cigars with the ashes as part of practice of Santeria, a Caribbean/African religion.
At the time of the vandalism, many suspected that the urns had been stolen to sell as scrap metal.
The vault was opened and memorial name plates were smashed in the incident at the historic cemetery behind the Stratford United Methodist Church.
Cemetery staff repaired the vault and replaced all of the name plates, but the remains and the urns have never been recovered.