Mississippi Nuns Murder: Rodney Earl Sanders Arrested For Stabbing Two Nuns To Death

A man by the name of Rodney Earl Sanders was charged with two counts of murder after being questioned by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI) agents on Friday evening. He brutally stabbed two nuns to death on Thursday.

“Sanders was developed as a person of interest early on in the investigation. This heinous crime has been resolved,” MBI Director Lt. Colonel Jimmy Jordan said.

Sanders is being held in an undisclosed detention center until it is time for his court appearance.

“We mainly wanted to make sure everyone knew that this individual was off the streets,” Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain told the Daily News.

He confirmed that Sanders acted alone and didn’t divulge any more details about the arrest. Rodney Earl Sanders, 46, killed two nuns – Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, both 68. Their bodies were found on Thursday at their home after they didn’t show up for work at a medical clinic in Lexington. The clinic is about 10 miles from where they lived. The sisters gave flu shots, dispensed insulin, and provided other medical attention for underprivileged children and adults who couldn’t afford it.

The police have not yet been able to pinpoint a motive for Sanders’ gruesome actions. That said, the police did find their stolen car – a blue Toyota Corolla – abandoned a mile from their home. Detectives said it was too early to tell if it was a case of robbery gone wrong. Investigators are currently searching the recovered vehicle for any evidence to establish motive for the murder.

Their colleagues were actually worried when the two nuns didn’t show up for work because the nuns were generally very punctual. The pious duo, Held and Merrill, were well known to help needy people.

“Right now, I don’t see no forgiveness in my heart,” Joe Morgan Jr., one of Merrill’s patients, said. “She doesn’t deserve to die like this, doing God’s work. There’s something wrong with the world.”

Many residents of the area wondered how they will cope with the death of the two nuns, who have done a lot of good work. The state had posted a reward of $20,000 for any information about the killer leading to an arrest and conviction.

Rev. Greg Plata of St. Thomas Catholic Church in Lexington has asked the religious communities to pray for the killer.

“Forgiveness is at the heart of being a Christian. Look at Jesus on the cross: ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.'”

The Lexington Medical Clinic is officially closed until Monday.

Talking about the sisters and their philanthropy, Plata said, “This is a poor area, and they dignified those who are poor with outreach and respect for them. They treated each person as a child of God.”

The nuns were from Durant, in Holmes County, which is incidentally the seventh-poorest county in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau. The county is strapped for good medical healthcare and the nuns maintained good relationships with drug company representatives. These representatives would often leave extra free samples thanks to the efforts of the nuns, according to clinic manager Lisa Dew. Dr. Elias Abboud, who worked with the sisters, said that the clinic provided about 25 percent of all medical care in the county.

Merrill’s nephew opened up about his aunt’s murder.

“We always considered Margaret just part of the family. The word ‘sister’ has many meanings, and they fulfilled all of them,” he said.

Rosemarie Merrill, Paula’s sister, was worried about the future of the clinic and mentioned that the nuns used to go to the clinic even after mass on Sunday. “It’s just going to be a disaster,” she said.

[Photo by Rogelio V. Solis/AP Images]

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