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The grave of a 12-year-old boy who was hit by a train in 100 years ago has been dug up in a Pennsylvania cemetery. What police in Butler, about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, can't figure out is who did it or why. They also don't know if there were any remains still in the grave a century later.
The boy, Walter Roberts, was killed by a train as he was returning from picking blackberries in the woods on Aug. 3, 1911.
Authorities in central Pennsylvania are trying to find out who stole from a grave the body of a 9-year-old girl who died almost half a century ago. Lancaster police are investigating the disappearance of the body of Paula Ream, who died in August 1962 and was buried in Riverview Cemetery.
Family members say they were shocked when a police supervisor and a chaplain told them Friday evening that someone had dug up the grave sometime between 4 p.m. Thursday and about 1 p.m. Friday and made off with Paula’s child-sized casket and her remains.
It was two feet by five feet and four feet deep.
"There's a Skull and Bones document that describes how Prescott Bush and other Bonesmen robbed the grave of Geronimo, and I spoke with several Bonesmen who told me that inside the tomb there's a glass display case containing [human remains] and the Bonesmen have always called it Geronimo," said Robbins, author of "Secrets of the Tomb," a book that delves into secretive societies at Yale, with special attention to Skull and Bones and its paths to power.
The robbing of Geronimo's remains fits into what Robbins calls "crooking" -- a competition among Bonesmen to steal valuable things, which were then hidden in the tomb, which has extremely limited access.
Human Thighbone Kangling
In actuality, the kangling is part of an ensemble of sacred instruments that emerged from the tantric crucible of India some fifteen hundred years ago. There, both Shaviite and Buddhist yogins and yoginis lived as wandering ascetics, staying close to charnel grounds, wearing bone ornaments, and using a unique group of ritual implements, including the human skullcup. These same objects, worn by the deities described in tantric liturgies, also appeared in the great monasteries of the time, used for both their profound symbolic meaning, and as objects possessing inherent spiritual power.
Sources of the Kangling
Various texts and oral traditions describe the best source of kangling, which is the vehicle of our offerings. Accordingly, the most perfect specimen would be from a Brahmin child, male or female, free from worldly stains or faults. At the other end of the spectrum, it should not be from someone who died of tuberculosis, plague or other contagion, or some accident or misfortune. The right leg of someone who died in their youth, with clear mind, is considered a Daka kangling—possessing enlightened male energy. The left leg from a similar individual (male or female) is a Dakini kangling, possessing enlightened feminine energy. Other traditions say that a female bone should be from the left side, and a male bone from the right leg.
Peculiar events have happened at other city cemeteries in the weeks leading up to and since a grave robbery in Lancaster. Someone tried to break into a sarcophagus at Lancaster Cemetery last weekend. The limestone, coffin-like grave covering, which held no remains or other items, was smashed and pieces were dragged into the nearby grass at the cemetery at Lemon and Lime streets.
Several months ago, Lancaster Cemetery groundskeepers found two severed chicken heads lying inside the historic burial ground, the final resting place for Major Gen. John F. Reynolds, a Union Army leader who died at the Battle at Gettysburg.
At Woodward Hill Cemetery, off South Queen Street, someone disabled the cemetery's motion detector lights earlier this month and tried to break into a small building near the grave of President James Buchanan.
In July at Woodward, someone smashed gravestones with crosses and other sacred symbols on them.
The robbery happened six months after a contractor found two chicken crates and a circle of candles in a small clearing, all in the woods across South Duke Street from Riverview, near the Conestoga Greenway Trail.
That activity could be evidence of ritualistic activity of practitioners of spiritualist religions, such as Palo Mayombe, an African-Cuban religion, an expert said.
The religion began when African slaves brought their traditions to Caribbean nations, disguising them behind Catholic-like practices.
Palo practitioners have been linked to, and prosecuted for, grave robberies in other states, said Dawn Perlmutter, a Bucks County resident, former college professor, author of "Investigating Religious Terrorism and Ritualistic Crime" and consultant to law enforcement on such cases.
Practitioners believe human bones hold special powers and collect them to bid them to carry out their wishes, Perlmutter said.
They also use sticks in their rituals. Palo means "wooden stick" or "branch" in Spanish.
Practitioners of spiritual or magical religions, including Santeria and Voodoo, purchase items for their practices at small stores called botanicas.
At least one botanica in Lancaster sells bundles of sticks and individual sticks labeled for Palo use, visible to two reporters who visited the shop Wednesday. Also for sale in the tiny shop were seashells, candles, a small preserved alligator head, a tiny wooden crutch, a floor wash advertised as promoting love and statues of the different magical faiths' "saints."