August 21, 2021
-New York Post
At least 22 farm animals were discovered in the rented home of a self-proclaimed Santeria doctor from New Jersey, whose landlord suspects he’s conducting animal sacrifices — but says she can’t evict him because of the COVID-19 eviction moratorium.
Resident Emilio Otero, who identified himself to NBC 4, allegedly kept goats, chickens and even nailed a dead pigeon to the door of the three-bedroom Jersey City rowhome.
Police were seen on Thursday escorting “seven to nine” goats out of the house, the outlet reported.
James Boor, of the Division of Environmental Health for Jersey City, said the agency also found “about four or five dead chicken carcasses, their throats slashed and they were left in a pile.”
Landlord and homeowner Alyza Brevard-Rodriguez, a Navy sailor who just returned home from a tour of the Middle East, believes that Otero may be performing animal sacrifices, according to the report.
She said Otero has not paid rent since May — but that she can’t kick him out due to the moratorium on evictions during the coronavirus pandemic. She described the situation as a “nightmare” to NBC.
“I come from humble beginnings. I served this country, I purchased this house, I live on the same block and I wanted to get an investment property, and this is what this has turned into,” Brevard-Rodriguez told the outlet.
Otero —who has not been arrested or charged with a crime— claimed that he is some sort of doctor to reporters.
“I help people with cancer, ladies that not pregnant, people with psoriasis,” he told NBC.
He denied sacrificing the animals as part of his Santeria practice, telling the outlet he uses them for food.
“Its legal, legally (in) the United States … you respect the religion,” Otero said.
But Jersey City officials disagreed.
“Jersey City has an ordinance that prohibits residents from keeping farm animals, livestock, in the city limits,” Boor said. “As the investigation goes on, (Otero) could face per count — not sure how many counts — but per count issued by my inspectors it could be $2,000 and 90 days in jail.”