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Woman's body snatched from New Jersey cemetery

Grave robbers broke into a mausoleum in New Jersey and stole the body of woman who died in 1996.

A woman’s body was stolen from her grave last week, 16 years after she was laid to rest in a New Jersey cemetery.

Police are searching for the people responsible for stealing the body of Pauline Spinelli, who was entombed with five other family members in a mausoleum located in a secluded area of Atlantic City Cemetery in Pleasantville, N.J. She died in 1996 at the age of 98.

“I’m going to miss grandma, even though she’s dead,” Pauline’s grandson, Rocco Spinelli told NBCPhiladelpia.com. “They’re sick people, they’re crazy.”

Police say sometime late Thursday or early Friday of last week, someone removed the lock from the mausoleum, got inside, smashed a heavy marble slab, pried open an aluminum casket, and left with Spinelli’s body.


Cemetery officials discovered the empty coffin around noon on Saturday and alerted police to the theft.

“The glass was broken by some type of means,” Pleasantville Police Capt. Rocky Melendez told NBCPhiladelphia.com. “The person who came here came with the tools necessary to break into that.”

Police have no leads, but they believe several people likely used heavy duty tools to break into the mausoleum and steal Pauline from her final resting place.

Family members say they believe that a cult has something to do with the theft of Pauline’s body.

“What can these people possibly be believing in to take a 16-year-old dead body?” Spinelli said. “I don’t want to see somebody desecrate her body, chop her up or make some kind of voodoo dust out of her.”

Police say they're investigating all possible motives in the case. 

Melendez said other areas of the state have dealt with similar incidents before, including in 2006 when police arrested Michael Mastromarino, the CEO of a New Jersey human tissue recovery firm and the head of a body snatching ring. Mastromarino and his employees netted millions of dollars illegally harvesting human bones, organs, tissue and other cadaver parts from more than a thousand individuals awaiting cremation.

Police say they are reaching out to other police departments in New Jersey. There are no security cameras near the Spinelli mausoleum.

“If you’re done with her, bring her back,” Spinelli said. “If anything works in their minds, grandmom’s going to haunt them for the rest of their lives.” 

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