Man accused of killing Sr. Margaret Held from Slinger pleads not guilty and case goes to trial

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Oct. 13, 2017 – Slinger, WI – The man accused of the brutal murder of Sister Margaret Held, SSSR of Slinger and her friend, Sr. Paula Merrill has pled not guilty to the charge. A jury trial will begin Feb. 12, 2018.

Rodney Sanders is facing capital murder charges in Holmes County Court.

The nuns were working at a medical clinic in Lexington, Mississippi.  They were reportedly attacked in their home in Durant, MS.

Both women died from multiple stab wounds.

St. Margaret Held’s sister Jean Kroll of Slinger said she’s “astounded by the plea.”

“There’s so much evidence against him,” said Kroll. “I’m just numb.”

The attack happened Aug. 25, 2016. Sr. Margaret Held was 68.

Kroll said she’s gone through a lot in the last year and had a hard time explaining her feelings about the situation.

“In order to protect my heart and my sight I don’t want to think of him,” she said of Sanders.  “I don’t want to hate him because that’s what I would end up doing.  I don’t want that.

“I just pity him,” said Kroll.

This past year a beautiful memorial stone was dedicated in Durant to Sr. Held and Sr. Merrill. Kroll said some family attended the ceremony but she did not.

“I just love… that’s the only thing I can do but I do pity him for what he did,” she said.


Reporter Sarah Fowler from The Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi worked in partnership on the story. She wrote:

“Rodney Earl Sanders, 47, of Kosciusko, pleaded not guilty Friday in the 2015 stabbing death of Sisters Paula Merrill and Margaret Held, according to Holmes County District Attorney Akillie Malone-Oliver.

Indicted by a June grand jury, he faces two counts of capital murder. The trial date is set for Feb. 12, Malone-Oliver said.”

More on Fowler’s article is available by clicking HERE.


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