Two Catholic nuns have been found dead in a home they shared near Jackson, Mississippi–the apparent victims of homicide.

The sisters, both nurse practitioners, were not shot; but authorities have not yet explained how they died. One was apparently a member of the Kentucky-based Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. The other belonged to the School Sisters of St. Francis, an order originating in Milwaukee.

According to an early report from Associated Press:

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.

Local news channel MSNow adds that the sisters’ bodies were discovered on Castalian Springs Road in Durant, Mississippi.

ABCNews reports:

There were signs of a break-in and the nuns’ vehicle is missing, said Maureen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Jackonson. 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.

Sister Paula Merrill

Sister Paula Merrill, one of two sisters believed murdered at their home in Mississippi

At this point, the identity of the victims has not been confirmed officially. The bodies of the deceased were quickly transported to Jackson before diocesan staff were able to confirm their identities. However, tThe two sisters who worked as Nurse Practitioners at the Lexington Medical Clinic, and who remain missing, were Sister Paula Merrill of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, and Sister Margaret Held OSF, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis.

Sister Paula Merrill with a patient

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image:  By Yumi Kimura from Yokohama, JAPAN [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons