MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Police are actively searching for suspects after discovering animal parts cruelly discarded on the side of the road.
"We don't even know where the animal was killed, all we know is the remains were left on the side of the road," explains Captain David Knipes, Myrtle Beach Police.
Officers weren't sure what to expect when they were called to the intersection of 17th Avenue South and Yaupon Drive late Wednesday night for a "suspicious circumstance."
But what they found was shocking – two plastic bags with severed animal parts, including a decapitated rooster and a goat's head.
"It could be a couple of things. All the way from the ill-treatment of animals to a charge of animal cruelty," says Capt. Knipes.
The incident report notes that the city services worker who removed the bags also found a bloody knife inside.
Police are investigating to see if this is an Animal Cruelty case or a religious ritual that uses these particular animals.
According to Professors of Religious Studies at Coastal Carolina University, it is common for certain religions to sacrifice small animals. They say one religion that could be present here in Myrtle Beach is Santeria.
"Santeria is a merging of West African and Catholic beliefs, it is a borrowing of religions. Sacrificing small animals is typical practice but are usually performed by priests," explains Preston McKever-Floyd, a Professor at CCU.
Myrtle Beach Police will continue to investigate to determine if this is a religious act, and if it would be protected under Freedom of Religion.
"We'll see if this would be in a protected class, if that form of religion has the right to do that sort of thing, we'll do a little bit more research," says Captain Knipes.
One way or the other, police will look into if the animals were tormented or tortured in anyway.
"It is a possible crime, it could be something more far reaching or widespread that we might now about, so we'll look into it like any other crime," explains Captain Knipes.
They are looking for the person or people responsible for leaving the animal body parts on the side of the road.
"We'd like to find out who left the heads on the side of the road, talk to them and have a little more insight into what actually happened," says Captain Knipes.
The individuals that were seen dropping the bags were described as a "dark male and female," but any further description was unavailable.
Anyone with information about what happened is asked to contact Myrtle Beach Police as soon as possible.
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