A man accused of stealing human remains for a religious ritual faced a judge on Monday.
Police said they discovered the bones in the home of 32-year-old Amador Medina on Friday.
They said the remains came from a cemetery in Massachusetts and were stolen back in October.
Investigators made the discovery in Medina's apartment on Preston Street over the weekend.
Inside were the remains of at least five bodies dating back to the early 1900s. Officials said the bodies were missing out of damaged caskets.
According to an arrest warrant, six bodies, of four adults and two children, were removed from the mausoleum in Worcester, Ma. Medina is accused of stealing at least five bodies.
"[I'm] not scared but kind of surprised," said Jose Mercedes, a neighbor. "You only see this stuff on TV."
Investigators said Medina had been using the bones for religious purposes. They said the practice isn't unheard of and Santeria, an Afro-Caribbean religion, believes bones possess healing powers.
"They are usually attempting to make some kind of life change for themselves or someone else. The idea is you use the powers of different Gods and those are embodied that can then make something happen in your life," said Quinnipiac University Assistant Professor of Anthropology Jaime Ullinger.
Metals, candles, feathers and wax are part of the ritual.
"We do occasionally run across it in Hartford, generally just with the animals," said Deputy Chief Brian Foley, Hartford police. "But the older the bones, sometimes, the more value they have in medicinal purposes."
Neighbors told Eyewitness News that the discovery was unsettling.
"It’s pretty scary, especially for the children," said Nadia de la Puente, a neighbor. "I do not have children at this moment, but if I did I would be very scared to live especially to find there was a neighbor next to me practicing those types of religions."
"I have no idea how that could even happen, and I've seen them hanging out in the summer time on the porch, like normal, happy family," said Sherif Sissoko, of Hartford.
Medina was arraigned Monday morning in Hartford. He was taken back to Worcester, Mass. on Monday where he will also answer charges.
He is expected back in court later this month. His bond was set at $300,000.
Medina also has a history with police. He was convicted in 2007 and 2008 on domestic charges.
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A Hartford man is under arrest in connection with a very bizarre crime.More >