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Malaysia police confirm ritual killing victim as American woman

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Malaysian police on Saturday said DNA tests have identified a victim of a ritual killing as an American woman who went missing about 19 months ago.

The victim was confirmed as Carolyn Noraini Ahmad of Duluth, Minn., who was staying in the country with her Malaysian husband since 1987, a police spokesman in the northern state of Perak told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The spokesman said police had arrested four suspects, including a woman, in connection with the murder. He did not say when they would be charged in court.

Ahmad, 37, disappeared near the northern city of Ipoh on Nov. 11, 1999. Her remains were unearthed last month in a shallow grave at an oil palm plantation.

Police said the victim was used as a human sacrifice in a ritual to obtain lottery numbers from the spirits.

One of the suspects is serving a six-year prison sentence for a firearms offense, while the other led police to the woman's grave last month and confessed that the ritual was performed to obtain four-digit lottery numbers from the spirits.

The female suspect, who is in her 20s, surrendered to authorities in Kuala Lumpur. She was later released on bail pending police investigations.

The details of the ritual killing are unclear, but some Malaysians have been known to hold ceremonies where they offer prayers and slaughter goats in hope of receiving inspiration on winning lottery numbers.

The woman's Malaysian husband, Roslan Ahmad, the general manager of a hospital in Ipoh, about 93 miles north of Kuala Lumpur, had identified his wife's remains and some pieces of clothing. The couple had three children.

Carolyn Ahmad attended Duluth Central High School and received her General Educational Development certificate before attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where she met Ahmad, who was also a student there.

The murder case bears an eerie similarity to that of another Minnesota woman who disappeared while backpacking in Malaysia three years ago.

Margaret Elizabeth "Molly" Kleinman, 30, vanished in 1998 on a trip to Taman Negara, Malaysia's largest national park. She left her passport, journal and other valuables at the resort hostel, but few other clues about her fate. Malaysian police said investigations are ongoing but no fresh leads have emerged.