Two nuns murdered in Mississippi

A man has been arrested in the US state of Mississippi in connection with the murders of two nuns. Police have announced that Rodney Sanders will face murders charges relating to Sr Margaret Held and Sr Paula Merrill who were found stabbed in their home on August 25

The bodies of the nuns, both trained nurses, were discovered by colleagues who had become suspicious when they did not arrive for work at their clinic in Holmes County, a rural area north of the state capital, Jackson. First reports indicated that the nuns had been stabbed in what appeared to be a break-in. Their car had been taken and dumped barely a mile away. 

Responding to news of the murders, Fr George Plata of the parish of Durant, who knew the sisters well said: “They were two of the sweetest, most gentle women you can imagine. Their vocation was helping the poor.”

Sr Paula Merrill, a member of the Sisters of Charity, had worked in Mississippi for over 30 years, while Sr Margaret Held, of the Sisters of St Francis, had worked in the state for 33 years. Working together at the Lexington Medical Clinic, the nuns were widely known among people of the area who could not have otherwise accessed healthcare due to the poverty levels in Mississippi. Friends and colleagues were quick to pay tribute to nuns who were devoted to their calling in providing for those in need.

Lisa Dew, of the Lexington Medical Centre said the nuns’ deaths would hit those attending the clinic particularly hard. 

“I think their absence is going to be felt for a long, long time. Holmes County, it’s one of the poorest in the state,” she said. “There’s a lot of people here who depended on them for their care and their medicines. It’s going to be rough.”