Family of Suspect in Murder of Mississippi Nuns Breaks Down as He Appears in Court

Sister Paula Merrill and Sister Margaret Held lived in Durant, Mississippi.

— -- After the man accused of murdering two nuns in their Mississippi home appeared in court today, his family broke down and apologized to the family one of the victims, according to ABC affiliate WAPT in Jackson.

The suspect, Rodney Earl Sanders, 46, of Kosciusko, Mississippi, was arrested late Friday in connection with the deaths of Sister Paula Merrill and Sister Margaret Held in Durant, Mississippi.

Sanders was wearing shackles and a bulletproof vest as he was taken to the courthouse in Durant this afternoon, WAPT reported.

Sanders, who has been charged with two counts of capital murder, in addition to other charges, will be appointed an attorney, according to WAPT.

He will remain in jail without bond, WAPT reported.

It is believed Sanders acted alone in the murders, according to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

The bodies of the two nuns were found by police Thursday morning when they did not report to work, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson said.

The nuns were both nurse practitioners at the Lexington Medical Clinic, where they provided flu shots and other care for people who couldn't afford it, according to The Associated Press.

"She was so good to the people down there and they just loved her," Merrill's sister, Rosemarie Merrill, told WAPT.

“These sisters have spent years of dedicated service here in Mississippi," Bishop Joseph Kopacz said, according to a statement on the site for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson. "They absolutely loved the people in their community."

"We got each other's backs over here," a community member told WAPT. "So when this happened, it's devastating."

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