Rodney Sanders arrested, charged with capital murder in killings of Mississippi nuns

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Police Find Car of Slain Nuns a Mile From Their Home

A suspect has been arrested in the killings of two nuns whose bodies were found in their Mississippi home Thursday, authorities said late Friday.

Rodney Earl Sanders, 46, was charged with two counts of capital murder "after an exhaustive interview" Friday night, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

Sanders, of Kosciusko, is charged in connection with the killings of Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, both 68, who were found dead in their home in the rural town of Durant Thursday morning, the bureau said.

"Sanders was developed as a person of interest early on in the investigation," MBI Director Lt. Colonel Jimmy Jordan said in a statement. "With the cooperation of the Durant and Kosciusko Police Departments, Holmes County Sheriff's Department and the Attorney General Office this heinous crime has been resolved."

See photos of the slain nuns:

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2 Mississippi nuns found dead in their home
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2 Mississippi nuns found dead in their home
Jamie Sample, a parishioner of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Lexington, Miss., sits in the shade in Durant, Miss., and shows a smartphone photograph taken last December 2015, of Sisters Paula Merrill, left, and Margaret Held. The two nuns who worked as nurses, and lived in Durant, Miss., were found slain in their home Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. There were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing. (Courtesy Sample family via AP)
This undated photo provided by Sisters of Charity of Nazareth shows Sister Paula Merrill. Sister Margaret Held and Merrill, two nuns who worked as nurses and helped the poor in rural Mississippi, were found slain in their home and there were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing, officials said Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. (Sisters of Charity of Nazareth via AP)
This 2015 photo provided by the School Sisters of St. Francis shows Sister Margaret Held. Sister Paula Merrill and Held, two nuns who worked as nurses and helped the poor in rural Mississippi, were found slain in their home and there were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing, officials said Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. (Michael O'Loughlin/School Sisters of St. Francis via AP)
Jonell Payton, right, comforts Lisa Dew, outside the Durant, Miss., home of two slain Catholic nuns, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The nuns worked as nurses at the Lexington Medical Clinic, where Dew was the office manager. Dew and a Durant police officer discovered their bodies inside the house after both nuns did not report for work. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Local police officers leave the Durant, Miss., home of two slain Catholic nuns who worked as nurses at the Lexington Medical Clinic, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The clinic office manager and a Durant police officer discovered their bodies inside the house after both nuns did not report for work. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Police crime scene tape surrounds the residence of two Catholic nuns who worked as nurses and helped the poor in rural Mississippi, and were found slain in their Durant, Miss., home Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. Authorities said there were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Next door neighbors of two nuns who were found dead in their home, Patricia Wyatt Weatherly, right, and Eloise Luckett talks to the media in Durant, Miss., Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The nuns worked as nurses at a clinic in a neighboring town and helped the poor. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
"I can't image who would kill those two sisters," says Patricia Wyatt Weatherly, the next door neighbor of two Catholic nuns who worked as nurses and helped the poor in rural Mississippi, outside the Durant, Miss., house, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The women were found slain in their home, and there were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing, officials said. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Sam Sample, a parishioner of St. Thomas Catholic Church in Lexington, Miss., background, paces while other church members and neighbors watch investigators at the house in the background where two nuns who worked as nurses lived in Durant, Miss., Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The nuns were found slain in their home, and there were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing, officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Police officials confer outside the Durant, Miss., home of two slain Catholic nuns who worked as nurses at the Lexington Medical Clinic, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The clinic office manager and a Durant police officer discovered their bodies inside the house after both nuns did not report for work. Authorities said there were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
A Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agent takes a bag with evidence from the Durant, Miss., home of two slain Catholic nuns who worked as nurses at the Lexington Medical Clinic, to his vehicle, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The clinic office manager and a Durant police officer discovered their bodies inside the house after both nuns did not report for work. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
A Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agent stores evidence bags from the Durant, Miss., home of two slain Catholic nuns who worked as nurses at the Lexington Medical Clinic, into his vehicle, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The clinic office manager and a Durant police officer discovered their bodies inside the house after both nuns did not report for work. Authorities said their were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
A Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agent stores evidence bags from the Durant, Miss., home of two slain Catholic nuns who worked as nurses at the Lexington Medical Clinic, into his vehicle, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The clinic office manager and a Durant police officer discovered their bodies inside the house after both nuns did not report for work. Authorities said their were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
A Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agent takes a bag with evidence from the Durant, Miss., home of two slain Catholic nuns who worked as nurses at the Lexington Medical Clinic, to her vehicle, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The clinic office manager and a Durant police officer discovered their bodies inside the house after both nuns did not report for work. Authorities said their were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
A Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agent takes a bag with evidence from the Durant, Miss., home of two slain Catholic nuns who worked as nurses at the Lexington Medical Clinic, to his vehicle, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The clinic office manager and a Durant police officer discovered their bodies inside the house after both nuns did not report for work. Authorities said their were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Two Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agents inspect a car in the garage of the Durant, Miss., home of two slain Catholic nuns who worked as nurses at the Lexington Medical Clinic, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The clinic office manager and a Durant police officer discovered their bodies inside the house after both nuns did not report for work. Authorities said their were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Jonell Payton, right, comforts Lisa Dew, outside the Durant, Miss., home of two slain Catholic nuns, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. The nuns worked as nurses at the Lexington Medical Clinic, where Dew was the office manager. Dew and a Durant police officer discovered their bodies inside the house after both nuns did not report for work. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Durant Police Chief John Haynes, left, and assistant Police Chief James Lee reassure Lexington Medical Clinic employees Lisa Dew, right, and Viola Turner, seated, that the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation was giving the home of two slain Catholic nuns who worked as nurses at the clinic a through crime scene investigation, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Durant. The clinic office manager and a Durant police officer discovered their bodies inside the house after both nuns did not report for work. Authorities said there were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
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The killings were discovered when the nuns didn't show up for work at the Lexington Medical Clinic, where they both worked as nurses caring for people who couldn't afford medical care, authorities said.

A car missing from their home was found Thursday night about a mile away, police said.

Police have not released as cause of death in the killings. Rev. Greg Plata, who oversees the small church the nuns attended, said police told him they were stabbed.

Sanders is being held in an undisclosed detention center awaiting his initial court appearance.

Kosciusko is a town of just over 7,400 around 17 miles east of Durant, a town of around 2,600, according to 2010 census figures.

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