Reward up to $22K for info in nuns’ deaths

DURANT, Miss. (AP) – The Latest on the killing of two nuns in Mississippi (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Services have been scheduled for two nuns who were killed in Mississippi.

The bodies of Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, both 68, were discovered Thursday after they failed to show up for work at a clinic in Lexington, Mississippi, about 10 miles from where they lived.

The Catholic Diocese of Jackson says a wake will be held Sunday at St. Thomas Church in Lexington. A memorial Mass is scheduled Monday at the Cathedral of Saint Peter the Apostle in Jackson.

The diocesan chancellor, Mary Woodward, says the memorial service will be “an opportunity for the diocesan community and friends to celebrate the lives of these two remarkable women.”

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3:10 p.m.

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety has increased the reward by $20,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the deaths of two nuns.

Sister Paula Merrill and Sister Margaret Held were found dead Thursday in their homes in Durant. Authorities have not released a motive or cause of death, but the Rev. Greg Plata said police told him the sisters were stabbed.

The Holmes County Crime Stoppers chapter had initially put up $2,500, so the total reward money is now $22,500.

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2 p.m.

The sister of a nun who was killed in rural Mississippi says her sister was called to “serve the underserved.”

Rosemarie Merrill on Friday described her sister Paula and the second nun who was killed with her, Margaret Held, as generous women who would give you the shirt off their backs.

Paula Merrill

This undated photo provided by Sisters of Charity of Nazareth shows Sister Paula Merrill. Sister Margaret Held and Merrill, two nuns who worked as nurses and helped the poor in rural Mississippi, were found slain in their home and there were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing, officials said Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. (Sisters of Charity of Nazareth via AP)

Margaret Held

This 2015 photo provided by the School Sisters of St. Francis shows Sister Margaret Held. Sister Paula Merrill and Held, two nuns who worked as nurses and helped the poor in rural Mississippi, were found slain in their home and there were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing, officials said Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. (Michael O’Loughlin/School Sisters of St. Francis via AP)

Both women were found dead Thursday.

Rosemarie Merrill says her sister moved to Mississippi in 1981. For a time when she lived in Holly Springs, Mississippi she would ride around town on a moped. She was instrumental in locating the source of a tuberculosis outbreak in the town while she was there.

The clinic where the women worked served underinsured and uninsured people in the poorest county in the state.

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1:30 p.m.

A minister in Mississippi says a memorial Mass will be held for two Catholic nuns were found slain inside their home.

Father Greg Plata said Friday that the nuns, Sister Paula Merrill and Sister Margaret Held, had led Bible study for years at St. Thomas Catholic Church. He says Held will be buried in Wisconsin and Merrill will be buried at her congregation’s headquarters in Nazareth, Kentucky.

He says the sisters’ work as nurses dignified the poor.

Authorities have not released a motive or cause of death, but Plata said police told him the sisters were stabbed.

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12 p.m.

People in the Mississippi community where two nuns were killed say they are having a hard time finding forgiveness, even though that’s what the sisters would have wanted.

Joe Morgan Jr. says he was a patient of Sister Paula Merrill and last saw her about four months ago.

Morgan went to Lexington Medical Clinic where the sisters worked as nurses on Friday in hopes of talking to grieving staff members, but a handwritten sign in the front door says the clinic is closed until Monday.

Morgan says the nuns would’ve wanted him to forgive whoever killed them, but right now he doesn’t have any forgiveness. Also slain was Sister Margaret Held. Both nuns were 68.

Authorities have not released a motive or cause of death, but the Rev. Greg Plata said police told him the sisters were stabbed.

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9:45 a.m.

Authorities say autopsies are being done on two nuns who were found slain in their Mississippi home.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain said the autopsies would be done Friday on Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill. The women were nurses who were found in their home Thursday when they didn’t show up for work at a clinic that helps poor people.

Authorities have said they found a car that was missing from their home and towed it to a crime lab for analysis. Authorities have not released a motive or cause of death, but the Rev. Greg Plata said police told him the sisters were stabbed.

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3 a.m.

Friends say two nuns who were found slain in their Mississippi home “would do anything for anybody.”

Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill were found dead Thursday morning when they didn’t report to work at the nearby clinic where they provided flu shots, insulin and other medical care for children and adults who couldn’t afford it.

Dr. Elias Abboud, who worked with the sisters for years and helped build the Lexington Medical Clinic, says he’s not sure what will happen to the facility in light of their deaths.

Authorities didn’t release a cause of death, but the Rev. Greg Plata said police told him the nuns were stabbed. Their bodies were taken to a state crime lab for autopsies.

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.

Categories: News, State News

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