Police arrested a man for allegedly hacking his mother to death and then smearing his body with her blood, believing the act would bring him riches, an officer said Wednesday.

Police were investigating whether Ajith Ray, a laborer, took his mother's life on the advice of a sorcerer, said Tushar Kar, a police officer at Gaighata, a locality on the outskirts of Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal state.

"We are investigating what made him commit this gruesome act," Kar told The Associated Press.

Police arrested Ray, 23, on Tuesday after being alerted by his neighbors, Kar said.

He said investigations suggested Ray strangled his 60-year-old mother, Arati Ray, cut her into pieces and then buried her near a tree in his neighborhood.

Rural areas of India remain deeply superstitious despite the country's economic progress in recent years. Many people believe in black magic and dozens of people are killed every year practicing witchcraft.