Identity Of Man Accused Of Stabbing Nuns Revealed

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Rodney Earl SandersRodney Earl Sanders

A man has reportedly confessed to killing two nuns in Durant, Mississippi.

Rodney Earl Sanders, 46, of Kosciusko, Mississippi, allegedly confessed to murdering Sisters Margaret Held and Paula Merrill in their home, a sheriff said on Aug. 27.

The women were found stabbed to death on Aug. 25 after they did not show up for work, according to CBS News.

He did not give a reason for killing the 68-year-old women during his interrogation, Holmes County sheriff Willie March said.

“Sanders was developed as a person of interest early on in the investigation,” Lt. Colonel Jimmy Jordan said in a statement, but he did not provide information as to why.

It is unclear if Sanders knew the nuns personally.

Dr. Elias Abboud, who overseas the clinic in Lexington where the nuns worked, said Sanders was not a patient there, nor was he known as a patron of St. Thomas Catholic Church where the women led Bible study, Rev. Greg Plata said.

Investigators believe Sanders, who was convicted in 2015 on a felony DUI charge, acted alone.

Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain said robbery and home invasion were the least likely motives for the killings.

The department would not confirm if Sanders confessed.

David Merrill, the nephew of slain Paula Merrill, said the family is thankful Sanders is off the streets.

The School Sisters of St. Francis, the order Held belonged to, thanked law enforcement for their efforts in the case.

“We wish to offer our deepest appreciation to the Mississippi state and local law enforcement teams and to the many other public servants who have worked tirelessly the past two days, under extremely difficult circumstances, to investigate the sisters’ deaths and gather evidence,” the School Sisters of St. Francis said in a statement on its website.

“They have been unfailingly kind and courteous to our congregation as they have kept us informed of their progress. We are most grateful for the care, consideration, and dedication with which they have carried out their work.”

Authorities charged Sanders with two counts of capital murder, and if convicted, then he could face the death penalty.

Sources: CBS News, School Sisters of St. Francis / Photo Credit: Mississippi Department of Public Safety via CBS News

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