October 13, 1956
Vineland, New Jersey
13-year-old Roger Carletto disappears; his killer will later claim to have murdered him to turn his skull into a love potion
Carletto’s parents reported him missing on October 13, and while police initially suspected foul play they also considered the possibility he had run away. Over the following months, the police employed a variety of methods to find the missing teen. In November, a team of 55 people searched the woods on foot while airplanes were used to look from above. In December, detectives and patrolmen used canoes and grappling irons to drag the river bed. And in January, a plot of fresh dirt near a beach was excavated. By April 1957, detectives told reporters they had a case file “as big as a Sears Roebuck catalog.”
In July of 1957, Juan Aponte (47) was arrested on an unrelated disorderly conduct charge. During nine hours of questioning, Aponte revealed he had witnessed Carletto’s burial and led authorities to the body to support his story. The “almost decomposed” body of a boy approximated to be 12 years of age was found under the hen house at Idek Rosenblum’s farm where Aponte was employed. According to Aponte, he saw Rosenblum digging a hole and investigated whereupon he saw a body covered in burlap sacks. He recognized the corpse to be the missing Carletto. Rosenblum forced Aponte to help bury the body and threatened to kill Aponte as well if he refused to help conceal the crime.
Rosenblum was charged with Carletto’s murder though he was visibly “bewildered” by the accusation. Within days, Aponte confessed to killing Carletto, however, and Rosenblum was released.
Aponte confessed that he had wanted to procure a human skull to turn into a “dry dust” to be used in a potion to make himself “irresistible” to women. He admitted he chose Carletto because he was the first convenient person he encountered. Aponte knocked Carletto unconscious with a punch to the back of his head and then strangled the teen. He buried Carletto’s body in the hen house, disinterred it 7 months later, and used a knife to remove the top portion of Carletto’s skull to render into a powder.
Aponte was subjected to two sanity hearings after he not only confessed to the ritualistic nature of Carletto’s murder but declared he was able to communicate with the Devil as well. He was deemed sane, tried, and convicted in 1959, receiving a sentence of life imprisonment.
“Jail Voodoo Killer for Life.” San Francisco Examiner. December 20, 1959
“Wants Aponte To Be Declared Insane By Court.” Millville Daily Republican. June 2, 1959
“Cafiero Denies Aponte Appeal For New Hearing.” Vineland Times Journal. November 3, 1958
“Aponte Sanity Trial Opens.” Vineland Times. September 29, 1958
“It Happened At Home.” Vineland Times Journal. July 27, 1957
“Aponte Arraigned On Murder Count Shows No Emotion.” Vineland Times Journal. July 9, 1957
“Joy Overcomes Rosenblums On His Release from Jail.” Vineland Times Journal. July 9, 1957
“Man Admits Slaying Youth To Get Skull for Love Brew.” Wilmington Evening News. July 9, 1957
Brandt, Del. “Poultryman Held in Murder of Roger Carletto.” Vineland Times Journal. July 3, 1957
Brandt, Del. “Police Stymied in Efforts To Locate Roger Carletto.” Vineland Times Journal. April 5, 1957
“Police Seek Missing Boy From New Jersey.” The Miami Herald. December 27, 1956