Digging Deeper: Man accused of killing nuns has criminal past in - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Digging Deeper: Man accused of killing nuns has criminal past in Iowa

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

A man accused of killing two nuns in Mississippi may have had his criminal start in Iowa.

Rodney Earl Sanders is being charged with two counts of capital murder, accused of killing Sister Paula Merrill and Sister Margaret Held.

Their bodies were found on Thursday morning after they didn't show up for work.

It turns out, Sanders has spent his fair share of time in the Linn County courthouse for various crimes.

His criminal history spans into Black Hawk county as well.

Two lives have been lost which had been dedicated to God and to serving the small Mississippi community of Durant as nurse practitioners.

"We make a difference in people lives and we never know what that difference is," Sister Paula Merrill once said.

Sanders criminal history in Iowa ranges from jail time in Linn County for domestic abuse to multiple years in prison for robbery.

He's now accused in the Mississippi killing hundreds of miles away.

"A double homicide, this is about the worse thing that can happen to us since Katrina," James Lee told a reporter, the Assistant Police Chief in Durant.

"It's worse than a tragedy it's devastating," the victims' friend, Jamie Sample said in an interview.

The community is left searching for answers.

A Mississippi sheriff says Sanders admitted to the killings but did not say why he did it.

Killing in Mississippi makes the death penalty a possibility for Sanders, something that would not have been a possibility in his previous state of Iowa.

We have requested records from both the Linn County and Black Hawk County courthouses to look into the exact details of some of Sanders criminal past in Iowa, both courthouses have those records but we were not able to have access to them today.

Sisters Merrill and Held were 68-years-old, a memorial mass to honor their lives was held yesterday in Jackson.

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