Chicken feet flap in Port St. Lucie

Residents report accounts of possible Santeria

PORT ST. LUCIE — A handful of residents told police amputated chicken feet were found either hanging from, or adorning, their homes over the weekend, with accounts in reports suggesting Santeria or "black magic" could be involved, according to records released Tuesday.

Police on Sunday went to Dawn Lesaldo's home in the 400 block of Southwest Tulip Boulevard and found chicken feet painted red tied with a ribbon and hanging from a door knob.

The same day, Rina Absalom — Lesaldo's mother — told police she found a "red decorative box and amputated chicken feet" when she opened the door to her home in the 1500 block of Southwest Paar Drive. Police opened the box and saw an apparent "large piece of animal meat/organ." Absalom, 58, said she thought the feet and organs were involved in Santeria.

Amputated chicken feet also turned up hanging from the screen door of a home owned by Absalom in the 1100 block of Southeast Ivanhoe Street. The feet were suspended from the door by ribbon.

Additional chicken feet turned up at a home in the 3100 block of Southwest Watson Court. Eugenie Grant, 73, told police she saw the feet hanging from a red ribbon on her garage door handle as she backed out of her driveway. Grant said she's good friends with Absalom.

Officer Tom Nichols, police spokesman, described the incidents as "conspicuously unconventional and bizarre."

Absalom named a person she thought was involved, saying the woman practices "black magic." Absalom said the woman is "an alcoholic and has many other problems" and was attempting to curse her. Lesaldo, 36, named the same person.

Grant said she suspected a different woman, but said that the two women are good friends.

Nichols said police found no evidence implicating the named women and that putting chicken's feet on the homes of others isn't necessarily a crime. He said in these cases, the feet caused no damage to property.

The feet likely can be purchased at a butcher shop or meat store so there's nothing to support an animal cruelty charge, Nichols said.

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