Deputies: Graves broken into at Florida cemetery during what was likely ritual activity

The Lake County Sheriff's Office launched an investigation at a cemetery after several graves were broken into during what they believe was a ritual of some sort.

Deputies responded to Edgewood Cemetary in Mount Dora on Sunday regarding a complaint of vandalism to some of the graves. The discovery was made by a mother and daughter driving by the cemetery on Sunday afternoon.  

“In the far right corner there was a vault leaned up against a tree, so we turned around to make sure that nothing else was out of the ordinary,” Emma Boothe said.  They soon realized that wasn’t the worst of it.  

“That’s an image that I will probably never get out of my head. I mean, I don’t think I ate anything or slept at all last night. I close my eyes and see that poor man lying there,” Booth said. “This poor gentlemen that had been laid to rest in the 1980s. There was a pillow, but there was nothing on it.”

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Boothe called 911. She told FOX 35 News what she saw was so shocking and outrageous. When she described it to the 911 dispatcher, the dispatcher sounded to be in disbelief and asked her to repeat what she said.  Detectives arrived on scene, putting crime scene tape up at both entrances to the cemetery.  

Lake County Sheriff's Lt. John Herrell said that body parts were stolen from four different graves, saying it’s something his detectives had never seen before.  

“It leaves very little question in their mind that this was some sort of ritualistic activity taking place here,” Lt. Herrell said.

Twenty-four hours later, Boothe said she is still shaken to the core.  

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“It gives me goosebumps," she said. "I don’t think anyone should have to bury a family member and worry about digging them up. I think that’s extremely disturbing and I’m glad the families didn’t have to see that."

On Monday afternoon, after hearing about the crimes at the cemetery on the news, dozens of families made their way out there to see if it was their loved ones graves that were vandalized.

"It’s just wicked, evil. These are the days we’re living in," said Vernell Parker, whose mother's grave was disturbed. "I would have never even thought of something like this."  

Deputies say they believe there are multiple suspects because the lid to each of the vaults weighs between 700-1,000 pounds. 

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If you have any information on who vandalized the graves, you’re asked to call the Lake County Sheriff's Office at 352-343-2101.

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.