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Human skull, bones found on altar in backyard of LA woman's home

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Los Angeles County Coroner’s officials on Sunday were examining a human skull and bones found at a burned makeshift backyard altar at the home of a woman who police said practices Santería.

The discovery was made Sunday before 1 p.m. when the Pasadena Police Department responded to a report of a possible trespasser in the 800 block of North Oakland Avenue, police said.

"Having human bones is a little disconcerting," said Pasadena Lt. Ed Calatayud. "We respect everyone's religious right to practice. Our focus is on the bones."

Calatayud said it is not always illegal to have human bones. He said those who study bones for science, for example, can have them legally.

The case was uncovered when police found what appeared to be a makeshift altar, adorned with burned artifacts, animal bones, incense and candles, police said.

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Investigators and the personnel from the coroner's office responded to the home to collect the items for further analysis, police said.

Santería is a syncretic religion of West African and Caribbean origin influenced by Roman Catholic Christianity.