Mississippi Town Mourns Murdered Nuns

Suspect charged with two counts of capital murder

“I think their absence is going to be felt for a long, long time,” said Lisa Dew, the manager of the nuns’ clinic. “There are a lot of people here who depended on them for their care, their medicines. It’s going to be rough.”


UPDATE (8/27/16, 9:20 a.m.): Mississippi authorities have arrested and charged Rodney Earl Sanders, 46, of Kosciusko, Miss., with two counts of capital murder in the deaths of Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill. “Sanders was developed as a person of interest early on in the investigation,” Lt. Col. Jimmy Jordan said in a statement released Friday night by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. Authorities are holding Sanders in an undisclosed detention center pending a court appearance.

OUR EARLIER REPORT: Police in Durant, Miss., have few leads and no motive for the murder of two nuns found dead in their home yesterday.

Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill ran a rural clinic in Durant, one of the poorest counties in the state. When they didn’t show up to work Thursday morning, a police officer drove to their quiet street and found signs of a break-in. Their vehicle was gone, and the two nuns were dead.

The nuns’ patients, neighbors, and fellow church members, say they can’t understand why somebody would kill them. As news of the murder spread, shocked community members said they would miss the women’s kindness and their passion for serving the community’s poor.

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