Sin, Shame & Secrets

The Murder of a Nun, the Conviction of a Priest, and a Church Cover-up

Author: David Yonke
Pages: 285
Language: English
Publication date: 06/02/2015
5.35 €
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True crime story of a priest who killed a nun and was arrested 24 years later
In this unique and compelling true-crime story, journalist and author David Yonke presents and analyzes the only case in U.S. history in which a Roman Catholic priest was arrested for the murder of a nun.

Father Gerald Robinson of Toledo, whom friends and associates described as a timid and mild-mannered man, was arrested by cold-case detectives in April, 2004, and charged in the brutal slaying of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl 24 years earlier.

The 71-year-old nun had been choked to the edge of death, covered with an altar cloth, and stabbed 31 times in the face, neck and chest. Her body was found in the sacristy of a Catholic hospital, her habit pulled up to her chest and her undergarments around her ankles. It was Holy Saturday morning, 1980, the day before Easter and the day before the victim’s 72nd birthday.

Cold-case investigators said the first nine stab wounds, made over the nun’s heart, were in the shape of an upside down cross, one of many signs that Sister Margaret Ann was the victim of a ritual killing.

'Sin, Shame & Secrets' unveils how cold-case investigators decided to reopen the case in 2003 after a Toledo nun testified that Father Robinson abused her in satanic rituals when she was a child. The nun's testimony before the Toledo Catholic Diocese's Review Board also alleged that a number of children had been killed by the cult.

A lengthy police investigation followed, resulting in Robinson's arrest at age 66 on April 23, 2004. After a three-week trial, covered gavel-to-gavel by Court TV (now truTV), the priest was convicted of murder on May 11, 2006 and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

* * *

Yonke, the award-winning former Religion Editor and reporter at The Toledo Blade, reviewed hundreds of police files, interviewed dozens of principles, and covered every minute of the trial to give readers a thorough and examined look at events as they unfolded, as well as providing background information for the story and the people involved.

* * *

In Robinson’s legal appeals, the killer priest claimed that his trial attorneys failed to examine the possibility that another hospital chaplain — one with a drinking problem, a bad temper, and a knife collection — may have been the real murderer.

Robinson also alleged that Coral Eugene Watts, a confessed serial killer who strangled and stabbed up to 80 women, was living an hour north of Toledo in 1980 and may have been the perpetrator.

The story has been covered by news media around the world and featured on many nationally broadcast television programs.

Although Robinson's appeals were denied by the Ohio Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, public debate and controversy continue to swirl in this timeless and controversial case.
El vendedor asume toda la responsabilidad de esta entrada.
David Yonke is a veteran, award-winning journalist based in Toledo, Ohio. He grew up in New York and Florida, graduated from Duke University, and has been writing news stories ever since. Since 2000, Yonke has been a full-time religion journalist, writing news and feature stories on all matters of faith, spirituality, belief and religion. This led to his covering the unique case of Father Gerald Robinson, a Toledo Catholic priest arrested in 2004 by cold-case detectives for the 1980 ritual murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl. Yonke started covering the Robinson case the day after the priest's arrest, attended every minute of the trial, and followed up with ongoing coverage of the legal appeals and other developments. It is the only time in U.S. history that a Catholic priest has been convicted of murdering a Catholic nun. And police believe the nun was the victim of a ritual killing. Although Robinson lost his appeals to the Ohio Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, debate and controversy continue to swirl around this case as alternative theories surface of what might have actually happened that Holy Saturday morning, 1980. Robinson died in prison on July 4, 2014. Putting the case to rest. But the interest and debate continue. Yonke is the founder and editor of the nonsectarian, nonprofit religion news site Toledo Faith & Values ( He also runs a freelance writing, editing and consulting company, He and his wife, Janet, have three grown daughters and live near Toledo, Ohio.

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