Arrested Santa Muerta church leader David Romo often traded barbs with a leader of a rival Santa Muerte sanctuary in the north Mexico City suburb of Tultitlan. That spiritual leader, Jonathan Legaria, also known as “the Panther,” turned up dead in July 2008. He was killed by a high-powered weapon in a drive-by shooting.
Legaria’s Santa Muerte sanctuary was home to what he claimed was the largest known representation of the “holy death,” a statue towering more than 70 feet (see photo here). His followers said at the time that jealousy and religious differences with others were to blame for his killing, but they stopped short of naming names. Local authorities washed their hands of the investigation, citing their own “incompetence” and handing the case over to federal authorities in a formality that all but ensured Legaria’s killing would never be solved.
Last week, with Romo behind bars, the leader who has taken over Legaria’s Santa Muerte church in Tultitlan spoke out. EnriÂqueÂta VarÂgas — Jonathan Legaria’s mother — told La Prensa in an interview (link in Spanish): “David Romo is not the Santa Muerte, and not the whole church, and if he made a mistake he should pay for it.” — Full story by Daniel Hernandez in the Los Angeles Times.
Trailer for the documentary, La Santa Muerte — Saint Death
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