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Two Catholic nuns were found slain in a Mississippi home where they lived when the women, both nurse practitioners, didn’t report to work at a nearby hospital, authorities said Thursday.
Durant Assistant Police Chief James Lee said it was too early to say how the nuns died, but it appears they were not shot.
There were signs of a break-in and the nuns’ vehicle is missing, said Maureen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson. Both women worked at the Lexington Medical Clinic, about 10 miles away from their home in Durant, a town in a poor, rural part of the state.
Authorities didn’t release a motive and it wasn’t clear if the nuns’ religious work had anything to do with the slayings.
“I have an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach,” said the assistant police chief, who is Catholic.
From The New York Times:
The Rev. Greg Plata, the priest at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Lexington, where the nuns were active, said he had been told by the police that they were stabbed. One of their cars, a blue Toyota Corolla, was missing. Warren Strain, a spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, said the car was found abandoned Thursday evening on a secluded street barely a mile from the home, The Associated Press reported.
Father Plata said the two women were the only ones who lived in the house. It was not clear if the killings were related to their work. He said they dressed in civilian attire, or scrubs when they were at work.
Chief Lee said that he could not speculate about a motive and that a cause of death had yet to be officially determined. The 10-person Police Department was being helped by the State Bureau of Investigation and the Holmes County Sheriff’s Department.
“An actual full-blown double homicide is an enigma,” he said, adding that the one-story, cypress-shaded house was in one of the quietest parts of the city and that the nuns would often jog or walk around the neighborhood.
Jamie Sample, 58, of Ebenezer, Miss., the music minister at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, said she had relied on the nuns for their “gorgeous voices” at Mass. “I just cannot tell you what precious people they were,” she said. “They were just the sweetest people to ever draw a breath into their bodies.”
She described the nuns as being like family. They spent time together at the holidays, and Ms. Sample’s husband and son took care of their home repairs.
Ms. Sample added that whoever had killed the nuns was “the epitome of evil.”
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them…