Investigation: People practicing Santeria may be dumping headless goats in the Chattahoochee

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News is investigating headless goats found floating in the Chattahoochee River. Someone has dumped hundreds of decapitated goats over the past few years.

Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston cruised up the Chattahoochee River with Jason Ulseth, who works for the environmental group the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.

As they approached the Interstate 20 bridge near the Fulton County and Cobb County border, “There’s a goat,” Ulselth said.

Channel 2 found a headless goat in the river, then another and another.

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“Lately it’s become a lot more frequent, and on Friday we were out here and saw 30 of them floating down the river,” Ulseth said.

A witness recorded cellphone video of goats being tossed into the river from the I-20 bridge.

The video shows the splash as the goat hits the water.

“He actually hears the body splashing down, not only in the middle of the night, but he told me he hears them in the middle of the day,” Ulseth said.

But a lot of questions remain unanswered.

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“These goats have to be coming from somewhere, but we haven’t been able to determine who’s buying the goats, who’s providing the goats or actually how they are making their way here in the river,” Ulseth said.

In 2019, Channel 2 Action News did a story about people leaving dead chickens, goats’ heads and coconuts near railroad tracks in metro Atlanta.

It turns out it was part of a religious ceremony for the followers of Santeria, a religion that mixes West African culture with Cuban Catholicism.

Channel 2 talked to a Shango priest in 2019, who explained the significance of the goats.

“We use a he goat as also a victory. Then we use she goat for the baby, for the for also for the blessing. That is the significance of all these animals that we use,”Akinton Shingods Anjoula said.

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Channel 2 reached out to three law enforcement agencies to see if they are investigating the headless goats.

The Georgia State Patrol and Fulton County Police told us they didn’t have any reports.

Channel 2 is still waiting for the results of an open records request from Cobb County Police.

Ulseth said he is concerned that the number of headless goats being dumped in the river is growing.

“Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen a couple hundred, but never more than 20 to 30 at one given time like we’ve started to see here lately,” Ulseth said.

The decapitated goats are a public health danger not just for people who fish or play on the Chattahoochee River, but for just about everyone in metro Atlanta.

“This is drinking water for 5 million people, and we all have to do our part to take care of it,” Ulseth said.

Some people treat the river as a dumping ground, throwing everything from tires to couches to flat-screen TVs into it.

Ulseth urges everyone to do their part and not throw anything into the water.

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