Santeria stalker

Valdes was certain the stalker was behind it. But who was he?

On May 6, an anonymous tipster fingered Kellyd Rodriguez, a skeletal figure who was no stranger to cops. In 2004, he had been arrested and charged with four felony counts of aggravated stalking. Police said that between August 1 and February 7, he had called Jorge Rodriguez, owner of radio station La Poderosa (WWFE, 670 AM), more than 500 times. (He later pleaded guilty to one count, but a judge withheld adjudication.)

Police began tailing his car. On May 12, they spotted two phones on his dashboard. Rodriguez "nervously" admitted one matched the 786 number police had tracked to the Valdes calls, according to an arrest report. Prosecutors charged him with felony stalking, but thus far haven't been able to link him to the shootings or the calls to the schools. (Hernandez notes his client is charged only with the harassing phone calls, but he declined further comment.)

But Valdes contends the systematic harassment qualifies as a hate crime. Prosecutors are considering the request, State Attorney's Office spokesman Ed Griffith says, but so far don't believe the evidence supports it.

Other santeros are watching closely. Though Pichardo's '93 case established that animal sacrifices are legal as Santería rites, Valdes's clash with police and an ignorant community member is far from isolated.

In 2006, for instance, three worshippers in West Dade were arrested during a sacrifice; charges were eventually dropped. Months later, a Miami-Dade firefighter was booked when a neighbor called 911 about a goat sacrifice. He too was exonerated.

In January 2007, Valdes himself was detained during an animal sacrifice. That's why he originally went on the radio — to talk about the need to better educate police about the religion.

Seven month later, in August, Coral Gables Police swarmed a house on Casilla Street, disrupting a Santería service with their guns drawn. Worshippers were detained until officers realized no crime had been committed, but defiant Gables Mayor Don Slesnick vowed to stop all animal sacrifices in the City Beautiful and refused to apologize.

More recently, Jose Merced, a santero in Euless, Texas, filed a federal lawsuit when the town's cops descended on a ceremony with about ten worshippers and stopped a planned sacrifice of goats and chickens. In July 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, sided with Merced, citing the precedent of Pichardo's case.

Hate crime or not, if Rodriguez's goal was to stop Valdes from practicing Santería, he has failed.

On a recent Tuesday morning, Valdes, clad in white and draped with eleke beads, sits on a rug in a sunny room in West Kendall. Across from him sits Julio Cesar Garcia, a "godson" who has asked for help with getting a promotion at Miami International Airport.

For the ebbo be estera ceremony, Valdes chants and sings rapid-fire, like a Pentecostal preacher speaking in tongues, over the soft clink of seashells shuffled beneath his hand. He grabs a watermelon, cuts a hole in the center, and pours in a viscous mix of honey, spices, and blue dye. Garcia holds the fruit to his head, kisses it, and places it gently back on the rug. "This is my religion, and I have as much right to practice it in peace as anyone else," Valdes says after the ceremony. "I will fight for this as long and hard as I must."

UPDATE: Check out the latest charges against alleged stalker Kellyd Rodriguez.

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13 comments
harry nutzack
harry nutzack

the old testament of the bible has rules regarding proper methods of ritual sacrifice, proper sacrifices for particular events, and sacrifices to cleanse ones sins in the eyes of yahweh... unless the practicioners of this faith are torturing animals to death, how is their sacrificial killing any different than what occurs in every slaughterhouse in this country on a daily basis? i agree that hate crime charges should be pressed... just say no to our american taliban, the self righteous evangelicals who actively seek to supress the liberties of others, and force their twisted world view into our lives...

Edipar
Edipar

The same sick individual stalked me family at one of the worst times of our lives, I am so glad he is in jail and hope he stays there for a long time. He is a sick individual with a lot of time on his hands. I wish I could get in touch with Mr. Valdes and tell him my story. maybe New times can make that happen.

Crackerhater123
Crackerhater123

stop killing animals for your coconut gods.Jesus Christ-(Earths Rightful Ruler) will judge you for that.

THETIMEISNOW
THETIMEISNOW

and all religions are accepted to live and practice their beliefs in peace-that is the birthright of a citizen-and be free of terrorism and threats against their persons----

THETIMEISNOW
THETIMEISNOW

We have A SANTERIA PRIESTESS LADY WHO LIVES IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD-AND THE FOLKS ARE NICE PEOPLE-NO COMPLAINTS. STALKERS-HAVE A SCREW LOOSE-MAJOR SOCIETAL COMPLAINTS ON THAT BEHAVIOR!!!

Brisco
Brisco

It's clearly a hate crime, hopefully they can gather enough evidence.

But I don't understand why Valdes doesn't just put a curse on the stalker and cause him to suffer greatly...

rhonda c
rhonda c

santerians worship african gods. each saint represents a different god. when catholics forced africans to worship their saints images, they only pretended to worship them. they assigned each on e secretly to one of their gods.

Carlosvaldes65
Carlosvaldes65

you can contact me, Mr. Valdes at (786) 226-4254. My number is common knowledge. Please call me as soon as possible.

Reddy Deril
Reddy Deril

you are so ignorant.. you will rot in hell for being so god damn f stupid

nomercy55
nomercy55

YOU WILL BE JUDGED BY WHITE JESUS....

nomercy55
nomercy55

MEANWHILE YOU HATE CRACKERS,GUESS WHO WILL JUDGE YOU

harry nutzack
harry nutzack

funny that the religion forced on the enslaved africans by their european captors is still so embraced by their descendants... your moniker derides the descendants of the overseers, yet you still spout the rhetoric they forced on your ancestors.... you worship the trappings of your peoples bondage, and worse yet, seek to force those very precepts on others.... you are, indeed, the american taliban

Jesus Suarez
Jesus Suarez

Hello Brisco...haven't you heard? The Guy WAS Arrested and for what he was arrested for he will be put away for a LONG, LONG time...aside from all that he will suffer. The Gods aren't asleep.....

 
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