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Jackson, Miss. - Two religious sisters were found murdered in their Mississippi home today, according to police.
The sisters, both nurse practitioners, were scheduled to work at Lexington Medical Clinic but never came to work this morning, prompting their co-workers to call the police.
According to a statement from the Diocese of Jackson, the bodies have not been positively identified by authorities, but are believed to be those of Sister Paula Merrill, of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in Kentucky, and Sister Margaret Held, of the Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee.
Sister Paula Merrill, SCN, was a native of Stoneham where family members still live. She grew up in the Stoneham parish and returned home to visit annually.
Authorities said that it appears the sisters were shot at their home in Durant, Miss. While no motive is known at the time, police said it appears they are victims of homicide.
"These sisters have spent years of dedicated service here in Mississippi. They absolutely loved the people in their community," said Bishop Joseph Kopacz of Jackson.
"We mourn with the people of Lexington and Durant and we pray for the Sisters of Charity, the School Sisters of St. Francis and the families left behind," he added.
"These were the two sweetest sisters you could imagine. It's so senseless," Father Greg Plata, OFM, told a reporter on the scene.
Durant police and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation are investigating the incident.
CAN materials contributed to this story