Boy killed and mutilated in macabre ritual

Buenos Aires, Argentina - Argentinian police are investigating the 2006 murder and mutilation of a 12-year-old homeless boy in northeastern Corrientes believed to be the work of satanic cults.

Ramon Ignacio Gonzalez was murdered during an eclectic ritual combining different practices of the Afro-Brazilian umbanda and kimbanda, the Argentine San La Muerte (Saint Death), and other satanic cults, the province's chief prosecutor Gustavo Schmitt said.

He said police were looking for six suspected cult members identified by a 14-year-old girl, Ramoncita, a friend of the victim, who told police Gonzalez was murdered "to obtain purification by offering a young body to their gods".

The mutilated body of Gonzalez, a homeless child who lived from selling religious cards and artifacts, was found October 2006 in Mercedes, a city of 50,000 some 700km north of Buenos Aires.

The boy "was raped, impaled, tortured with cigarette burns, decapitated while still alive and then all the blood was drained from his body. They removed all the skin from his body, as well as his tongue, throat and several vertebrae", Mr Schmitt said.

The chief prosecutor said investigators "firmly believe there is an ideological culprit who ordered the murder and may even have paid to have it done".

Mr Schmitt said he had asked a judge to include in the investigation another 2005 murder case of a newborn baby found bludgeoned to death on a Mercedes street, whose body remains unclaimed and was missing some bones.

He said that in the Gonzalez murder investigation there were reports the suspects had carried out other human sacrifices.