Police were pursuing a trespasser on private property in Pasadena, Calif., when they discovered a human skull and other bones in the home's backyard. A makeshift altar adorned with incense and candles contained the skull along with other human and animal bones, CBS Los Angeles reported. Police said that they were investigating the altar incident as "suspicious circumstances."
Authorities told NBC 4 Los Angeles that the woman who owns the home where the altar was found practices a form of Santeria, an Afro-Caribbean religion that involves animal sacrifice among its customs. NBC 4 spoke to a man leaving the woman's home, who only identified himself as Jose. He said that his sister's family purchased the bones on eBay for religious purposes. There are, in fact, a number of human skulls available for purchase on eBay, most of them denoted as being sold for medical or dentistry studies. The one with the highest bid as of Tuesday afternoon was going for $710.
The Weirdest Things Found in Homes
Human Bones Found on Backyard Altar in Pasadena, Calif.
Police officers in Portsmouth, Va., called to an abandoned home to recover a stray dog found dozens more animals inside -- and none of them were the usual house pets.
Twenty-three turtles of various sizes, a 4-foot-long canebrake rattlesnake, an eel, a shovelnose catfish and a lovebird were found trolling broken fish tanks, dresser drawers and other parts of the home. Two more turtles, each weighing about 50 pounds, were found in discarded bathtubs in the home's backyard.
A Los Angeles man got the surprise of his life when he peeked into a vault under his backyard hot tub that he hadn't touched in two months. Inside the vault was a duffel bag (pictured above) he had never seen there before -- and it contained 61 jars, bags and vacuum-sealed packages filled with $175,000 worth of marijuana.
A Carson City, Nev., man who was found dead in his home left only $200 in the bank -- but a fortune worth millions more hidden inside his house. Walter Samaszko Jr., who's been described as a recluse, had been dead for more than a month when authorities discovered his body. And as officials were clearing out his home for sale, they uncovered a pot of gold -- literally. Samaszko had been hiding gold bars and coins worth a total of $7 million in boxes in his house and garage. Some of the items included coins from Mexico, England, Austria and South Africa dating back to 1872.
People find some seriously weird things in their homes, but this might top the list. Inside Charlotte Donahue's home in Prince George, Va. were four inmates who had recently escaped from a youth prison. "One was found in my attic," said Donahue. "The other was found in one of my closets, and the last two were found in my bedroom."
The inmates -- 17-year-old Alvin Rogers, 15-year-old Yusef Collier, 17-year-old Shelvy Edwards and 15-year-old Raekwon Brown -- had escaped from Crater Juvenile Detention Center after a riot had broken out. The escaped inmates trekked a mile in the woods and swamp before they broke into Donahue's home to hide. Police had been searching for 10 hours before they spotted Donahue's broken front door window.
In a discovery that seems like something out of an Edgar Allan Poe story, a Michigan family uncovered a skeleton in their attic as they were remodeling their 19th century home. The older of two girls who live in the Union City home with their parents, Bryant and Teasha McIntosh, discovered the bones in a secret space beneath the attic floor. The girls, both history buffs, were exploring the home during its remodeling, when they found the bones and a corset.
"We expected to look for artifacts," Bryant McIntosh told AOL Real Estate. "We never thought we'd find bones in the attic."
For 25 years, Colin Steer was bewildered by a sunken portion of the floor under the couch in his Plymouth, England, home. At one point, he dug about a foot under the floor, but his wife, Vanessa, stopped him from going farther.
"My wife just wanted me to cover it back up because we had three children running around at the time," Steer said. "I always wanted to dig it out to see if I could find a pot of gold at the bottom."
After he retired, he went back to digging -- and what he found under his home, some might say, is a golden discovery. Steer uncovered a 30-inch-wide, 33-foot-deep medieval well under the floor that site plans indicate could date back to the 16th century. Hidden deep inside was a sword, which Steer grabbed while he was excavating the well, and using a rope to lift out debris.
A demolition crew preparing rundown historic buildings in Louisville, Ky., for interior demolition uncovered an abandoned sado-masochistic swingers club that has sat empty since at least the mid-1990s underneath the buildings. The decaying club was found two stories below street level, filled with paintings depicting sexually explicit and violent images. One image showed a person in bondage, and another depicted a man devouring another person. Also painted on the wall was the logo of the club, named "LATEX."
Boxes containing the cremated remains of 56 people stored at a southwest Ohio house under foreclosure are the same ones that a state regulatory agency found at a now-closed funeral home. Dayton police said that a contractor hired to remove remaining items from the house co-owned by the former director of the funeral home found the boxes in a closet Tuesday in the city north of Cincinnati. The boxes labeled with names and dates of death of the deceased individuals were collected by the Montgomery County coroner's office.
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
Neighbors had mixed reactions to the grim backyard discovery. One woman who declined to be identified told CBS Los Angeles of hearing chanting coming weekly from the homeowner's backyard, and seeing cow and goat heads and "blood all over the place." But another neighbor had more sympathy, saying: "They are hurting no one. It's just a basic religious ritual they are performing."
The Pasadena Coroner's Office confiscated the bones, and police said there doesn't seem to be a crime committed. They are working to determine the origin of the bones. R. Andrew Chesnut, a professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, studied photos of the altar and told NBC 4 that it honored a specific deity.
"What caught my eye was that the backyard altar was obviously primarily an altar to Santa Muerte, the Saint of Death ... whose cult has been mushrooming both in the United States and Mexico over the past decade," Chesnut said. "What it really is, is a fusion of medieval Catholicism and native Mexican folk religion."