Police boost patrols after possible religious ritual at the Berks County Memorial Gardens

Police boost patrols after possible ritual at cemetery

MAIDENCREEK TWP., Pa. - A disturbing discovery was made at the final resting place for nearly 4,000 people in Berks County.

Decapitated chickens, pennies, pieces of coconut and heart candies were found on the grounds of the Berks County Memorial Gardens in Maidencreek Township this week.

"When an officer arrived on location, he found two black chickens that had been beheaded," said Ofc. Chuck Hobart, Northern Berks Regional Police Dept.

The remains were found at the entrance of the cemetery on Route 222 Monday morning. Police said the pennies were spread around the chickens, and the pieces of coconut were split in half.

"We're not sure if the chickens were killed there and beheaded later, or if they were beheaded and killed at the same location," said Hobart.

Whatever the case, it's vandalism and possibly animal cruelty, said police, who believe it may be some sort of religious ritual.

"I'm an animal lover. Whether it's a chicken or a snake, there's no reason to be cruel to them," said Kanda Hess, who has an aunt and two friends buried at the cemetery.

Gordy Killian was on the grounds Wednesday buying a monument for his wife, who passed away from colon cancer a year ago. He was outraged by the findings.

"It doesn't make me happy, that's for sure," said Killian.

There are also reports of items that have gone missing across the cemetery. Police don't know if there is a connection, but they're taking action to stop it.

"It's a place of reverence and for family members to go to remember their past loved ones. It isn't a place where crime should be committed," said Hobart.

Anyone who realizes something is missing at their loved one's grave is urged to report it to police.

Northern Berks will be making their presence known across the grounds. They will be stepping up patrols in the early evening and overnight until the case is solved.

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