UPDATE: 08/27/2016 11:43am Following the arrest of suspect Rodney Earl Sanders, charged in the murders of two nuns in Durant, Mississippi, the sisters’ order has released the statement:
“A statement from the U.S. Province Leadership Team, School Sisters of St. Francis
August 27, 2016
We have been made aware this morning that an arrest has been made and charges have been filed in connection with the deaths of Sister Margaret Held of our community and Sister Paula Merrill of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. The suspect has been charged with two counts of capital murder.
There is still much we do not know about the suspect and the circumstances that led to this brutal and senseless crime. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and local authorities will continue to keep us apprised of details as the process of justice progresses. We will share more information as it emerges and as we are able.
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. 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.
We also wish to thank the hundreds of people and organizations who offered their prayers and words of support in the wake of the sisters’ deaths. Your kindness is deeply appreciated by the School Sisters of St. Francis at this tremendously difficult time.”
DURANT, Miss. (WJTV) – The Mississippi Bureau of Investigations has made an arrest in connection to the murder of two Holmes County nuns.
46-Year-old Rodney Earl Sanders of Kosciusko is charged with two counts of capital murder in connection to the murder of Sisters Margaret Held and Paula Merrill.
According to a written release from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, “MBI agents were able to develop enough information to charge Sanders” following what they call an “exhaustive interview Friday evening.”
MBI Director Lt. Colonel Jimmy Jordan said, “Sanders was developed as a person of interest early on in the investigation…With the cooperation of the Durant and Kosciusko Police Departments, Holmes County Sheriff’s Department and the Attorney General Office this heinous crime has been resolved.”
Sanders is being held in an undisclosed detention center awaiting his initial court appearance.