The ritualistic burning death of a newborn baby led to the arrests of four cult members in Chile on Thursday. The child’s mother, who authorities believe sanctioned the murder, was among those taken into custody.
According to local authorities, the three-day-old baby was tossed into a bonfire and burned alive as part of a human sacrificial ceremony. The ritualistic killing, which took place in November, was performed on a hill in Colliguay, a town located near the Chilean port of Valparaiso.
The cult members are accused of burning the baby alive at the behest of their leader, 36-year-old Ramon Gustavo Castillo Gaete, who police believe may have fathered the child.
Gaete allegedly ordered the burning of the newborn baby after deeming the child to be the antichrist. It’s thought the ritual killing was prompted by his belief that the world will soon end.
Miguel Ampuero, vice-chief of the Chilean Investigative Police, described the chilling details of the child’s last moments:
“The baby was naked. They strapped tape around her mouth to keep her from screaming. Then they placed her on a board. After calling on the spirits they threw her on the bonfire alive.”
According to police, the cult originated in 2005 and is currently comprised of roughly a dozen followers.
“Everyone in this sect was a professional,” Miguel Ampuero explained following the arrests on Thursday. “We have someone who was a veterinarian and who worked as a flight attendant, we have a filmmaker, a draftsman. Everyone has a university degree.”
After police carried out the arrests, the child’s mother — identified as 25-year-old Natalia Guerra — reportedly claimed that she went along with the sacrificial burning after being influenced by fellow cult members.
“I was devastated but [sect members] told me that it had to be — that it was my karma,” Guerra explained to investigators during an interrogation.
She is accused of burning the baby alive just three days after giving birth at a medical facility in Vina del Mar. During their investigation into the ritual murder, police reportedly discovered that the child was never officially registered with officials.
The cult’s leader was not among the four arrests made on Thursday. Officials have issued an arrest warrant and continue to search for his whereabouts.
According to the Chilean Investigative Police, Gaete was last spotted en route to Peru. It is believed he was making the journey in order to purchase a potent hallucinogenic plant known as ayahuasca, allegedly used by the cult during their rituals.
Police have not yet confirmed if additional cult member arrests are forthcoming in connection to the sacrificial burning death of Guerra’s newborn baby.
[Top image via Shutterstock]