The nun murders in Mississippi shocked the nation. Today, a state law enforcement agent testified that the man charged with killing the nuns has confessed. The man told investigators that after entering the nuns’ home, he had a struggle with them before he stabbed them both to death and drove off in their car.
Rodney Earl Sanders, a 46-year-old man from Kosciusko, Mississippi, was arrested and charged with capital murder for the Aug. 25 murders of Sisters Paula Merrill and Margaret Held. Both women were 68.
Sanders was arrested for the nun murders on Aug. 26 and has been held in jail since on charges of burglary, grand larceny, and two counts of capital murder. In Mississippi, when a murder is committed in conjunction with another felony, it is a capital murder and is punishable by death or life in prison. Sanders was in court, clad in an orange prison jumpsuit and seated next to his attorney, while LeCarus Oliver, an agent with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, testified regarding his confession to the murders. Seated only a few feet from Oliver, Sanders was quiet, reported Fox News.
Oliver told the court that Sanders had moved into a shed located across from the nuns’ home just three days prior to the murders. The confession given by Sanders details how he entered the nuns’ home through the back door without them knowing. Merrill was the first to spot him, and both women attempted to fight off the intruder. According to Fox News, Oliver testified that Sanders washed up after the murders of the nuns because “his hands were sticky.”
Although Oliver was not present when Sanders made his confession to the murders, an audio recording was made by the investigators in the room with the killer.
“He did acknowledge killing Paula Merrill and Margaret Held.”
In addition to Sanders’ confession, investigators collected a knife from the shed in which Sanders had been living. WJTV reports that Sanders’ fingerprints were found by detectives inside of the sisters’ home and car. The knife and other evidence collected have been sent to the state crime lab for testing, including rape kits done on both women. As of Friday, Sanders had not been charged with raping either one of the nuns.
When questioned by defense attorney Richard Carter III if Sanders had said why he murdered the nuns, Oliver testified that the killer had given no motive for the crime.
After the nun murders hearing on Friday, Durant Municipal Judge Jim Arnold determined that enough evidence existed to send the Sanders case to a grand jury. The panel will decide whether or not to indict Sanders in the murders.
Perhaps due to what WJTV reports is Sanders’ lengthy criminal record reaching back 20 years, including assault, robbery, and DUI, the judge denied a request by Carter to set a bond for Sanders — just as he had done during a hearing on Aug. 29, says Fox News.
The nun murders were discovered after the sisters failed to appear at work. Their bodies were discovered in a hallway of their house. Both were only partially clothed. It is thought that the murders were committed late on Aug. 24 or early on Aug. 25. The sisters worked as nurse practitioners in a health clinic located in one of the nation’s poorest counties, and, according to Inquisitr, were highly respected and regarded for their work in the community.
— Catholic Register (@CatholicRegistr) September 5, 2016
The sisters were laid to rest on Sept. 2. Despite the brutality of their murders, family members and colleagues of the nuns remain in opposition to capital punishment. As of Friday, the district attorney for Holmes County, Akillie Malone-Oliver, had not decided whether she would seek the death penalty in the case of the nun murders.
[Featured Image by Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photos]