Men used skulls stolen from Lake County cemetery, other human remains in ‘religious shrine,’ investigators say

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — Investigators said they found what appeared to be a religious shrine made of various human remains while investigating two men accused of breaking into graves at a Lake County cemetery last month.

Lake County detectives said Brian Montalvo Tolentino, 43, confessed to breaking into the graves after being linked to DNA found on the scene at Edgewood Cemetery, including cigars.

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Deputies said Tolentino, of Davenport, told them he and Juan Burgos Lopez, 39, broke into the graves and stole four skulls for “religious practices” on Dec. 6.

Deputies said Tolentino told them Lopez used a crowbar to open the vaults and then removed the heads of the deceased before returning to Lopez’ home in Lake Wales.

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When investigators searched Lopez’ home, detectives said they found a total of six skulls, a hand, partial arm, and multiple other large bones within what they said “appeared to be some sort of religious shrine.”

Deputies said Lopez told them four of the skulls were taken from the Edgewood Cemetery and stated the other two skulls were from other practitioners. He also had an additional skull that he claimed was fake.

Both men were arrested on the Lake County warrants by Polk sheriff’s deputies and were transported to the Polk County Jail where they were booked in with bonds of $40,000 each.

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Polk County Sheriff’s Office said they may be adding criminal charges for their jurisdiction as well.

Stay tuned to Channel 9 Eyewitness News for updates.


Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.