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.
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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.
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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.
Sin, Shame & Secrets
The Murder of a Nun, the Conviction of a Priest, and a Church Cover-up
Publication date: 06/02/2015
True crime story of a priest who killed a nun and was arrested 24 years later
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