Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Murder of Sr. Margaret Ann Pahl

ORIGINAL POST Apr. 27, 2006
It's been 26 years since the murder of Sr. Margaret Ann Pahl in a hospital chapel in Toledo, Ohio. The murder was considered a cold case until 2004. TV Court reports:

TOLEDO, Ohio - Detectives investigating a nun's brutal murder 26 years ago in a hospital chapel were convinced a priest was the culprit, but did not have sufficient evidence to press charges, a retired police lieutenant testified Monday at the cleric's trial.

The officer recounted a host of promising early clues pointing toward the hospital chaplain, Rev. Gerald Robinson, in the 1980 slaying, including a potential murder weapon, witnesses and a strange lie by the priest.
[...]
The murder was consigned to the cold-case file until 2004 when detectives used new forensic techniques to link wounds on Sr. Margaret Ann Pahl's body and stains on an altar cloth to a letter opener found in Robinson's quarters at the hospital.

Read more...


Today, there was a new development in the case:

TOLEDO, Ohio - Blood on an altar cloth covering a nun's body and DNA traces on her underwear did not come from the priest charged with her killing 26 years ago, a DNA expert testified Wednesday.

The DNA found on Sister Margaret Ann Pahl was likely from a man, but tests did not link the sample to the Rev. Gerald Robinson, said Cassandra Agosti, a forensic analyst with the state's crime lab.

Prosecutors said the trace of DNA was so small that tests showing it came from a man might have been wrong, or the sample could have been left by investigators on the scene or in the coroner's office.

Read more...



UPDATE May 5, 2006
The Associated Press reports more on the upside-down cross:

TOLEDO -- Investigators say stab wounds on the chest of a nun slain in a hospital chapel in 1980 formed an upside-down cross, a symbol that an expert on Roman Catholic law and the occult testified Monday has been used in satanic worship.

According to tradition, St. Peter asked to be crucified on an inverted cross because he believed he didn't deserve to die in the same manner as Jesus, said the Rev. Jeffrey Grob, associate vicar for canonical services in the Chicago archdiocese.

But the same symbol also has been used to mock the Catholic religion, he said.

"Any way you look at it, it's an affront to God," he said.

Read more...



UPDATE May 11, 2006
The jury convicted Rev. Gerald Robinson of the murder of Sr. Margaret. The Associated Press reports:

TOLEDO, Ohio - A jury convicted a priest Thursday of killing a nun a day before Easter in 1980 in a hospital chapel, a slaying that prosecutors say was steeped with religious ritualism because of the pattern of her stab wounds.
[...]
The Rev. Gerald Robinson, a Roman Catholic chaplain at the hospital, worked closely with Sister Margaret Ann Pahl and presided at her funeral. He was a suspect early on but was not charged until two years ago.

Read more...

The part of him presiding at her funeral bothered me the most.



UPDATE September 1, 2009
The Toledo Blade reports:

The DNA of notorious serial killer Coral Eugene Watts does not match a sample found on the fingernails of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, dealing another blow to Toledo priest Gerald Robinson's efforts to overturn his conviction in the nun's 1980 murder.
[...]
The Ohio Innocence Project, which joined Robinson's defense team in April, ordered the latest DNA test comparing Watts' sample with a minuscule amount of male chromosome found on the nun's fingernails.
[...]
"I would have been shocked" if they matched, said Thomas Staff, an investigator for the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office.

John Donahue, one of Robinson's defense attorneys, also said he had not expected a match.

"To be honest with you, I never gave a thought to Coral Watts as being the killer in this case," he said.



Court TV: Full coverage of the trial.
CBS News: Timeline of events.
Court TV: Evidence File

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