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It is now believed that two nuns, who were found dead at their home in Holmes Country, Mississippi by a police officer on Thursday (25 August) were the victims of homicide, according to reports.

The alarm was raised when Sister Paula Merrill and Sister Margaret Held did not report for work as normal, say officials. While it is believed the nuns were homicide victims, it is not clear whether their religious work had anything do with their deaths.

However, following earlier reports that the cause of death was unknown, Police Chief John Haynes said it is thought the pair were thought to have been stabbed to death, according to CNN.

Maureen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Catholic diocese of Jackson, said authorities discovered signs of a break in at the house on Castalian Springs Road, Durant, while the nuns' shared vehicle is missing.

Sister Merrill was a member of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in Kentucky, while Sister Held was from the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee. The nuns were both nurse practitioners, who worked at the Lexington Medical Clinic, situated about 10 miles away from their rural home in Durant

"These were the two sweetest sisters you could imagine," said Father Greg Plata to the Clarion Ledger, who worked with the sisters in Holmes County. "It's so senseless."

Plata confirmed that their bodies are at the State Crime Lab, where autopsies will be carried out. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and Durant police are investigating the killings.