Investigators said items, including cigars, were collected as evidence at the scene at Edgewood Cemetery in Mount Dora. Those cigars were sent for DNA testing, and one sample returned a database match to Brian Tolentino, 43, a Davenport resident.
On Wednesday, Jan. 6, Lake County detectives contacted the Polk County Sheriff's Office, where investigators obtained a search warrant for a mouth swab from Tolentino.
Polk County Sheriff's detectives executed a search warrant at Lopez's residence Wednesday night "in an effort to locate and recover the human remains," and found the stolen remains stored within "some sort of religious shrine." Detectives found a shed with a religious shrine, and seven skulls, four of which both suspects admitted to taking from graves in Mount Dora. Two others were determined to be fake, and the investigation is ongoing as to the identity of the other, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office. Authorities said some of the skulls were from military veterans.
Tolentino and Lopez were arrested on the Lake County warrants by Polk sheriff's deputies and were transported to the Polk County Jail where they were booked. Both were charged with four counts of disturbing the contents of a grave, and four counts of abuse of a dead human body. The Polk County Sheriff's Office may be adding criminal charges for their jurisdiction.
The suspects told detectives they use the human remains in their religious practice, Palo Mayombe, which is considered Santeria's "evil twin" -- and they chose veterans' graves due to the fact that their religion demands that the remains are from those who have "done something heroic," according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.