Answers elusive in case of Sebastopol teen who died in Peru

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Answers remain elusive in the case of a Sebastopol teen who died at a Peruvian jungle retreat, even after his body was brought back to Sonoma County for a second examination.

Kyle Nolan, 18, died in August while participating in an "ayahuasca ritual" after taking the hallucinogenic drug used for centuries by Amazonian people.

A shaman, Jose Manuel Pineda, 58, admitted to burying Nolan's body after he died during a session with the psychoactive concoction, according to Peruvian police.

He and two associates are awaiting trial on charges of homicide and illegally burying a body.

Nolan's father, Sean Nolan of Petaluma, last month raised more than $8,000 to bring the body home for further examination, saying his son may have been "murdered, because people don't die from ingesting ayahuasca."

But a second autopsy in Sonoma County, following an initial one in Peru, reportedly failed to produce results.

"I don't think there was a lot of information she was able to get," Nolan said this week of the pathologist's findings.

"There are still no answers," said the teen's mother, Ingeborg Oswald of Sebastopol. "I don't think we'll ever know."

Nolan is hoping that pending toxicology test results in Peru will determine the cause of death.

"The suspicion is he was given a bad dose," Nolan said of the speculation among those familiar with drug.

One possibility is that the mixture administered by the shaman may have contained a toxic alkaloid, he said.

Pineda, also known as "Maestro Mancoluto," was said to give different brews to people, depending on what his intuition told him.

His Shimbre Shamanic Center in Puerto Maldonado advertised a safe environment, with attendants on hand to help participants in their trance-like states. But Nolan said the reality was different.

Two months after his son's death, he said he is only now finding out that Maestro Mancoluto claimed to be descended from Martians by way of Atlantis and Lemuria. And he further claimed to be able to monitor from his scaffold tower the ayahuasca participants in their tents, or as they wandered in the jungle, using extra sensory perception and telepathy.

Nolan quoted a member of Toronto Ayahuasca Facebook Community familiar with the shaman:

"After sending all of the ceremony participants into the jungle, he climbed into his room and would watch Peruvian soap operas while sitting on a bank of batteries."

"If I had known my son would wander into the jungle alone and the shaman said he used ESP to control jaguars and scorpions, I would never have let my son go there," Nolan said.

Initially, the shaman told police that Nolan had left the center and he didn't know where he had gone, according to Peruvian news accounts.

But he later said the teenager died during the ritual and he buried the body to avoid adverse publicity for the center.

"He was buried in the jungle like a dog. It was a cover-up. I want to find out the truth," the father said.

Oswald said she discouraged her son from going to the center.

Kyle, a 2011 graduate of Analy High School, had attended Santa Rosa Junior College and worked odd jobs before taking time off to go to Peru and engage in the 10-day shamanic retreat.

"He was a struggling teenager," Oswald said, describing her son as a "lost soul."

Part of his quest, she said, was "to find a direction, heal himself and deal with people better. He was very anxious around people."

"He was hoping it would help him find inner strength, or peace, I don't know," she said.

Oswald said the shaman "should be tried for second-degree manslaughter, definitely. He should have been watching those people. Most shamans take care of their people when they're going through the ritual."

Part of the challenge for forensic examiners was the decomposition of the body, which was unearthed several weeks after Nolan's death.

And before it was shipped from Peru, the body was embalmed, another complicating factor in assessing toxicology here.

Dr. Kerry Arthur-Kenny of Forensic Medical Group, who did the second autopsy, did not return phone messages and email queries from The Press Democrat.

But Nolan, an unemployed writer, said he still owes the pathologist $3,500 for her work. He so far has raised more than $700 on the website, which helps raise money for charities, non-profit and individual causes.

Meanwhile, Oswald, a veterinarian who owns Blue Sky Veterinary Hospital in Rohnert Park, said she has hired a lawyer in Peru to sue Pineda and get possession of the shamanic center property that he owns. She wants to "turn it into a school for kids."

She said those who wish to help establish the school can give to the Kyle Nolan Memorial Fund at Exchange Bank.

(You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or

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