Suspect in killing of two nuns in Mississippi has Iowa ties

Sanders arrested for assault, robbery in Cedar Rapids cases

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CEDAR RAPIDS — A Mississippi man charged in the stabbing deaths of two nuns there last week has Iowa ties.

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety announced on Aug. 26 that 46-year-old Rodney E. Sanders of Kosciusko had been charged with two counts of capital murder in the deaths of two nuns in Durant.

According to CNN, Margaret Held and Paula Merrill, who were both nurse practitioners, didn’t show up to work last Thursday at a clinic about 13 miles from their home. When police went to check on the women, the found evidence of a break-in and their slain bodies, CNN reported.

Sanders was quickly developed as a person of interest in the investigation; however, authorities have not disclosed a motive in the killings.

Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow said police records show three prior interactions with Sanders in Cedar Rapids. In February 1999, he was arrested on one count of first-degree robbery. He was arrested twice in 2003 — once in May for assault with injury and again in October for two counts of first-degree robbery.

According to Gazette archives, the two robbery charges related to incidents in September 2003 at a Drug Town and Dollar Tree in Cedar Rapids. Sanders later pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree robbery. He was released from prison in February 2011 and was on parole until May 2012, according to Iowa Department of Correction records.

CNN reported Sanders was released from prison in Mississippi last December after serving nine months for driving under the influence.

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