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Death of woman in voodoo rite investigated

CAMDEN, N.J., July 28 (UPI) -- Investigators in New Jersey are trying to determine what killed a 20-year-old transgender woman who died during a voodoo ritual.

Lucie Marie Hamilton, 20, of Little Rock, Ark., died his month at the house of a houngan, or priest, in Gloucester, the Philadelphia Daily News reported. Authorities in Camden County have not listed the death as suspicious and are waiting for the results of toxicology tests that may give a cause of death.

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Hector Salva, who was born and raised in New Jersey and says he was trained as a houngan in Haiti, told the newspaper he is confident nothing he did caused Hamilton's death.

"That's God's choice," he said Monday. "I don't have no say in when God deems your turn."

Salva said Hamilton and six others participated in a cleansing rite July 11 known as Lave Tet. He said the ritual does not involve drugs, although some participants took a small drink of rum, which Hamilton refused.

"She was happy, very positive," he said. "She seemed very fine as far as everyone knew."

But when he tried to wake her up from a nap, she was not responsive and he called 911.

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