Wednesday 29 January 2020

Two nuns found killed in Mississippi home

US authorities are investigating after two nuns were found dead
US authorities are investigating after two nuns were found dead

Two nuns who worked as nurses to help the poor in rural Mississippi have been found killed in their home.

It was too early to say how they died, but it does not appear that they were shot, Durant Assistant Police Chief James Lee said.

The nuns were identified as Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, Holmes County Coroner Dexter Howard said. Their bodies were taken to a state crime lab for autopsies.

The women, both nurse practitioners, were found after they did not report to work at a nearby hospital, authorities said.

Maureen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, said there were signs of a break-in and the nuns' car is missing.

She said the sisters worked at the Lexington Medical Clinic, about 10 miles away from their home in Durant, which is in one of the poorest counties in the state.

Authorities did not release a motive and it was not clear whether the nuns' religious work had anything to do with the killings.

"I have an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach," said Mr Lee, the assistant police chief, who is Catholic.

Sister Margaret was a member of the School Sisters of St Francis in Milwaukee, while Sister Paula was a member of the Sisters of Charity in Nazareth, Kentucky.

Sister Paula moved to Mississippi from Massachusetts in 1981 and believed she needed to stay in the Deep South to help, according to a 2010 article in The Journey, a publication of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.

When asked about her ministry, she was humble, according to the article.

"We simply do what we can wherever God places us," she said.

According to the article, the two nuns rotated one week at a time at the Lexington Medical Clinic and the Durant Primary Care Clinic.

At the clinic, Sister Paula saw children and adults, and helped them in other ways.

"We do more social work than medicine sometimes," she said. "Sometimes patients are looking for a counsellor."


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