Spanish police investigate ritual link to human bones found off Alicante coast

Bundles containing partial skeleton, sticks, dolls and tax documents discovered close to Peñón de Ifach in Calpe

Civil Guard divers found strange bundles in waters off Calpe.
Civil Guard divers found strange bundles in waters off Calpe.GUARDIA CIVIL

Spanish authorities are investigating the origin of human bones and other objects wrapped inside bedsheets discovered last week in waters off the Peñón de Ifach, a 330-meter high outcrop sometimes compared to the Rock of Gibraltar in the Mediterranean town of Calpe (Alicante).

Civil Guard divers found a third bundle last Thursday at a depth of five to six meters, sources close to the investigation told the Efe news agency.

The first package contained a nearly complete human skeleton thought to be between 30 and 40 years old, which may have been dug out of the earth in recent weeks before ending up at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.

We were on a diving course in the area of Roca Plana, behind the rock, and I saw something that looked like a garbage bag at the bottom

Christian, diving instructor

The kinds of objects found inside the bedsheets, which include a knife, bird feathers, tree branches, a bird skeleton, a bronze statuette and a toy doll, have led investigators to suspect that they were used in rituals associated with Santería, a syncretic religion that fuses elements of Roman Catholicism, African Yoruba mythology and native American beliefs.

The bundles also contained photographs and documents belonging to Spanish residents from several parts of the country. The documents include letters from the Tax Agency asking taxpayers for additional information regarding their income statements.

The human remains have been taken to a forensic institute in Alicante for identification. Investigators are also visiting local cemeteries to determine whether any graves were dug up in order to obtain the bones.

No arrests have been made so far, but the investigation is extending to the western region of Extremadura and other provinces where individuals whose names cropped up live.

A ritual or spell

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“Everything suggests it could be some kind of ritual or spell,” said Juan Carlos Moragues, the government delegate in the Valencia region. Investigators have posited that the parcels could be part of a spell to break off a relationship.

Moragues confirmed that the human bones “had been buried for 30 to 40 years, given their texture and color.” The first bundle contained an “almost complete” human skeleton. The second bundle also contained bones, although some may be animal remains.

The first parcel was found by chance by a professional diver near the Peñón de Ifach, a landmark  off the popular coastal town of Calpe.

“We were on a diving course in the area of Roca Plana, behind the rock, and I saw something that looked like a garbage bag at the bottom,” said Christian, a diving instructor at Centro de Buceo Les Basetes who discovered the first bundle. “I went down for it and saw something like a tied-up bedsheet. I opened it a little and saw a doll. I brought it up, handed it to the skipper and continued diving.”

Back on land, the diving team opened the bundle and found a human bone inside and immediately notified the Civil Guard. Hours later, specialized divers located two similar parcels just a few meters from the first, around 20 meters underwater.

English version by Susana Urra.

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