UPDATE – More Details On Slaying Of Nuns In Durant

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4:25 p.m.

The Catholic Diocese of Jackson says it’s “terribly saddened” by the slayings of two sisters found dead at their Mississippi home.

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A statement by the diocese says the two nuns, Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, were found dead at the home in Durant after they failed to show up for work as nurse practitioners at a medical clinic in nearby Lexington where they help the rural poor.

The head of the diocese, Bishop Joseph Kopacz, says the sisters had spent “years of dedicated service” in the state.

“They absolutely loved the people in their community,” he added. “We mourn with the people of Lexington and Durant and we pray for the Sisters of Charity, the School Sisters of St. Francis and the families left behind.”

Church officials have said Held was a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis based in Milwaukee while Merrill was a member of the Sisters of Charity based in Nazareth, Kentucky.

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4:05 p.m.

Authorities say it’s too early to say how two Catholic nuns were killed in rural Mississippi.

Police say the bodies of the nuns, who had worked as nurse practitioners helping the poor, were found in their home in the Delta town of Durant.

Maureen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, said there were signs of a break-in at the nuns’ home and their vehicle is missing.

Durant Assistant Police Chief James Lee says it doesn’t appear the two were shot.

Authorities didn’t immediately release a motive and it wasn’t clear if the nuns’ religious work had anything to do with the slayings.

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

The sisters worked at a medical clinic about 10 miles from their home in Durant, according to Smith. Held was a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee.

The Rev. Greg Plata, the pastor who oversees the church the sisters attended, said Merrill was a member of the Sisters of Charity in Nazareth, Kentucky.

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2:35 p.m.

Authorities say two Catholic nuns have been found slain in a Mississippi home where they lived.

Durant Assistant Police Chief James Lee said Thursday that an officer found them when they didn’t report to work as normal.

Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain says it appears the nuns were homicide victims. He didn’t release a motive and it wasn’t clear if their religious work had anything to do with the slayings.

The assistant police chief says it’s too early to say how the nuns died, but it appears they were not shot. Lee says both nuns are nurse practitioners.

One is a member of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in Kentucky. The other is part of the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee.

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