When I hear 'human sacrifice' it conjures up images of ancient primitive civilizations - pagan rituals, satanic cults and brutal offerings to the Gods.
But, as it turns out, human sacrifices are far from a thing of the past. In fact, these kinds of sadistic rituals continue to take place in the present day, and some of them are much, much more gruesome than I ever learnt about in history class.
Before we go any further, I must warn you: the details of the atrocities I'm about to discuss are extremely graphic. Proceed at your own risk.
1. Praveen of Barpali
Location: Barpali, India
According to tantric worshipper Dilip Rathia, a deity approached him during a dream and offered him a deal from the devil himself. The apparition claimed that Rathia would be granted 'divine powers' in exchange for chopping a boy's head off.
Tragically, he complied and beheaded an 11-year-old who lived in the same village. Of course, no such powers were granted to the murderer, and the sacrifice amounted to nothing other than senseless suffering. After Police found Praveen's skeleton, Rathia confessed and was sentenced to death.
Method: Throat slit
It was September and Summer was about to come to a characteristically abrupt end in London. Unfortunately, so was an innocent boy's life.
It was just another normal day in the capital, until something was spotted bobbing in the Thames river. The floating object turned out to be a boy's torso - the legs, arms and head had been removed. The body was so badly mutilated that British police couldn't accurately identify the body, and referred to the victim only as 'Adam'.
Detectives believed a murderous gang of human traffickers had slit his throat, before drinking his blood from a makeshift cup made from his skull. This abhorrent act was meant to bring them good luck and apparently it did, as the murderers were never caught.
3. Lalita Tati
Location: Jailwara, India
Method: Throat slit
In the remote Indian village of Jailwara, seven-year-old Lalita was watching TV at a neighbor’s house. One week later, her mangled body was discovered by her horror-stricken parents.
Police immediately assumed the father was responsible and mercilessly tortured him to try and produce a confession. However, it later became clear that a pair of illiterate farmers abducted her with plans to stage a sacrifice in return for a good harvest.
After cutting Lalita's throat, the two men extracted her liver as an offering the Gods. After being confronted they admitted to the atrocity and thus received the death penalty.
4. Unidentified Man
Method: Beheaded and Burnt
In 2010 a Bangladeshi construction company all but condoned the murder of an innocent employee because they thought it would change the color of their bricks. This may sound like a bizarre episode of The Twilight Zone, but it's 100% true.
Red bricks are regarded as being highly valuable in rural Bangladesh, as it was a sign they'd been made properly. The owners of one particular brickfield were growing more and more frustrated that their bricks weren't as red as they'd liked, so, naturally, they hired a fortune teller to shed light on the situation.
Ever a reliable source of good advice, the fortune teller told them they should make a human sacrifice. Astoundingly, the owners told their employees this and shortly after a bricklayer was found dead, after being beheaded and burnt in a kiln. The four men responsible were quickly arrested.
5. Amelia Espinoza
Method: Strangulation, dismemberment
Shockingly, Amelia Espinoza's killer was her own 18-year-old son. The troubled teenager, Moises, reportedly held satanic beliefs that led him to kill his mother and mutilate her corpse.
Moises first strangled Amelia, before cutting her body apart with a circular saw. As if that wasn't bad enough, he then sliced off her head, before ripping out her teeth and gouging out her eyes. Two inverted crosses were found carved into her bones.
When Moises approached his cousin for help, she convinced him to confess, resulting in a 25-year prison sentence. At the trial the presiding judge told him:
I don’t know what I can say to turn your life around, but you’ll have a lot of time to think about it.