For those of you not familiar with it, Colma is a necropolis. Incorporated as Lawndale in 1924, it’s the town where San Francisco started sending its dead after the cemeteries of the City were full. As a result, the town, which changed its name to Colma in 1941, has a total living population of under 1,200 people, and a million and a half permanent residents (that is to say, “they are no more”). It was also the subject of a musical.
In a truly bizarre turn of events, a Colma maintenance worker at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery found two human hearts in jars on October 12, “with pictures of two different young couples pinned to each organ.” As reported by SF Appeal/Bay City News:
The jars, buried side-by-side several inches apart in an area not near any gravesites or buildings, each contained one heart with a photo of a couple seemingly in their early 20s pinned to it, [Colma Police Commander John Read] said.
A pathologist with the San Mateo County coroner’s office examined the hearts and concluded that they had been surgically removed from dead bodies that been autopsied, Read said. The organs also contained traces of embalming fluid, he said.
Read said the evidence found at the scene, which included residue from candles and cigars, “leads us to believe it was some kind of ritual that might be connected with Santeria.”
The use of animals in Santeria-related rituals was the subject of an important 1993 Supreme Court case, in which the court found that animal cruelty laws infringed the Constitutional rights of Yoruba practitioners (Santeria is one of the forms that the African Yoruba religion took in the New World). The Colma police have said that animal remains have been found before in Colma, but never human remains.