Wife of Mississippi Nuns’ Murder Suspect: ‘I Pray for My Husband’

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Marie Sanders has never understood so well what it means to be part of the family of God..
The stately, dignified woman of faith and mother of three has been fighting her own battles over the last week and a half since husband, Rodney Sanders, 46, was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in the Aug. 25 stabbing deaths of nuns Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill.

Sanders went to her husband’s hearing Aug. 29 not knowing what to expect. She’d never done this before.

“I didn’t think I’d be able to face that family. But when I walked in, it was like I was looking at the faces of angels,” she said.

She’s not one to show a lot of emotion, in spite of the moment caught on camera in which she cried with Held and Merrill’s church family and they comforted her. She choked up a little again as she talked about the love and support the men and women of the Catholic church showed her. She knew God’s love before, but hadn’t ever seen it in such living action.

“They told me they love me, they love (Rodney), they said God forgives. That was the hardest thing, I didn’t think I could make it because I didn’t know how to say I’m sorry to this family, because that was such a great loss. These were women of God, do you hear me?” she said.

“But for them to embrace me the way they did and tell me that they appreciate me, they love me, God loves me, they forgive, the sisters would want them to forgive … that was a hard pill to swallow.”

Childhood sweethearts

Marie and Rodney were married in 2012, but they’ve loved each other all their lives. They dated when they were in school, until Rodney moved to Iowa. But there are connections that years and miles can’t unravel.

“I always felt like he was my soulmate because I have always wondered where he was,” she said of the decades they spent apart. “He has my name tattooed on his arm, and it’s been there since we were younger.”

Neither of them were raised religious, but not many months after she joined the church in 2011, Rodney moved back and they were soon married. She encouraged him to look to God to help him with some of his demons. A felon, he also had been arrested numerous times for DUI.

She knew that helping with his broken places was beyond her ability. When Rodney Sanders was 5 years old, he saw his mother killed in front of his eyes, his wife said. He grew up feeling he had to protect his sister and brother.

“Rodney’s not a talker. You can sense when something is bothering a person, and I told him, ‘No matter what, you can talk to me. I’m your wife, you’re my best friend, you should be able to talk to me.’ But you can’t make a person talk, so buildup after buildup after buildup, he just didn’t understand how to talk to people.”

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Source: USA Today | Therese Apel