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Cemetery workers made a horrific discovery at a Connecticut cemetery this week — decades-old remains were stolen from a grave and replaced with two dead chickens, in what authorities are investigating as part of a sick religious ritual, according to new reports.

Tommy Valentin, who digs graves for the Agudas Achim Congregation, a Jewish Cemetery in Hartford, made the disturbing find along with other workers on Wednesday.

“We were walking to the cemetery to see if the tombstones are knocked down,” Valentin told NBC Connecticut. “We see see a big pile of dirt. We’re the only ones that dig here, so we walked over here [and discovered] there’s a hole here, so somebody dug it out.”

The grave was filled with water and there appeared to be two dead chickens floating inside, Valentin told the station. The grave has been there since the 1950s, according to police.

Investigators told the station it appears the grave was dug by hand, and that the disturbance happened three or four days ago. The grave robbers behind the act could face desecration and larceny charges, cops said.

Officials told The Hartford Courant they’re not ruling out that the remains may have been taken as part of a voodoo or Santeria ritual.

Human remains are not customarily used as part of these rituals, which derive from African and Caribbean religious traditions, but the practices have been distorted by mainstream pop culture, experts have said.

Leonard Holz of the Hebrew Funeral Association, who takes care of a nearby cemetery, told NBC Connecticut that he’s seen vandalism occur in the past, but never a case like this one.

“This is a one of a kind horrific incident,” he said.

The Hartford Police Department’s Major Crimes and Crime Scene divisions are investigating, according to the Courant.

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