Grave-Robbing Could Be Linked To Ritual Beliefs
Hole Found By 1820s Headstone In Hillsboro Cemetery
POSTED: 6:20 pm EST November 6, 2007
UPDATED: 12:29 pm EST November 7, 2007
HILLSBORO, N.H. -- A grave that was dug up in Hillsboro on Halloween may have been disturbed by people engaging in a ritual, police said.
Police said the grave of Sarah Symonds, who died in 1821, was dug up in the Bible Hill Cemetery. Whoever dug up the grave also took the body, police said.
"The body's certainly missing," said Lt. Darren Remillard.
A caretaker discovered the hole behind Symonds' headstone. It was 5 1/2 feet deep and perfectly rectangular, with mounds of dirt on each side. No trace of the body was left behind.
"We're looking into the reasons why, to see if there's any background that Miss Symonds had in relation to why she would have been taken," Remillard said.
One theory that police are considering is whether it might have been the work of someone who believes in witchcraft.
"With it being Halloween night and the fact that the hole was dug so perfectly, we don't believe it was grave robbers, because the way it was done and the way the dirt was positioned," Remillard said.
Police said that some believe that if a skull is stolen on Halloween night, it will grant powers to a person who holds it. Remillard later backed away from a direct link to witchcraft and apologized for making the association.
Many practitioners of witchcraft, Wicca or paganism contacted local media to protest the link, saying that there is nothing in their beliefs that would call for digging up a grave.
"We believe it's something other than someone digging it up to steal jewelry, so to speak," Remillard said.
Investigators said they have collected evidence and are looking into all possibilities. A monument in the graveyard was also tipped over that night, but it was put back in its place.
Town historians said the Symonds family was well respected, and don't know why her grave would be targeted.
Anyone with information was asked to call Hillsboro police at 603-464-5512.
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[Brisbane] Court orders goat thief to say sorry
Tue Nov 6, 2007 9:14am EST
SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian woman who stole a pet goat and was involved in slaughtering it in a mock Satanic ritual in a church, was ordered by a court on Monday to apologize to the church and the dead goat's owners.
Tracey Arnold, 26, was drinking with friends at a Friday the 13th party in 2006 when she decided to steal the pet goat named "Maddie" from the front garden of a house in the northern city of Brisbane, local media reported from the court.
The partygoers then broke into a local church, dragging the goat onto a raised platform and killed it in a mock Satanic ritual, reported Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper.
The goat's head was later found by police in the freezer of Arnold's home, along with a camera containing photos of members of the group with the head.
Arnold's lawyer told the Brisbane Magistrates Court that his client did not have a "macabre disposition" but that when she drank alcohol she made poor decisions.
Magistrate John Costello ordered Arnold to apologize in person to the goat's owners and the Bellbowrie Community Church and undergo psychiatric treatment.
Arnold was also ordered to pay A$70 (US$64) in compensation to the goat's owners and $1,535 for damage caused to the church.
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