June 30, 2014 / 7:49 PM / 5 years ago

Dog digs up skull and doll fragments from California backyard

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California man and his dog dug up a human skull, animal bones and doll fragments in his backyard, remains that anthropologists believe may have been part of an Afro-Caribbean rite, police said on Monday.

Detectives investigating the discovery in Yuba City have not ruled out the possibility of foul play, and are awaiting lab results on the skull’s age, police spokeswoman Shawna Pavey said.

The Husky dog was digging obsessively in the backyard, prompting the man to help him dig. A week ago, they uncovered a bag containing the human skull and animal skeletal remains, as well as a ceramic pot and doll fragments, Yuba City police said.

Nathaniel Oberman, who police say rents the home, told local television station KTXL that he immediately called police after realizing a human skull was among the jumble of items unearthed.

“There was like machetes, like horns with shells wrapped around it, a whole bunch of animal skulls, two coyote skulls, a goat skull and a bunch of bird skulls,” Oberman told KTXL, a Fox affiliate.

Anthropologists called in to help with the investigation said the find might be related to Afro-Caribbean religious traditions, such as Santeria, police said.

A spokeswoman for California State University, Chico, confirmed the skull had been taken to an anthropology lab at the university, but she referred further questions to police.

Pavey said police were seeking to locate previous tenants of the home to find out if they know anything about the buried items.

Oberman told KTXL he only recently moved into the house.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler

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