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Laura -
I lived in Toledo at the time of the murder and there was actually very little written or televised about the murder of Sr. Margaret.

Keep in mind, that in the 1980s the local catholic church was still pulling the puppet strings of both the media and law enforcement.

So your suggestion that early media accounts implied that this was a satanic murder is just not accurate.

I've got three newspaper articles from the April/May 1980 right in front of me and none of them reference candles or imply anything about rituals.

Sure, there were rumors about this murder swirling around Toledo for years. And really, why wouldn't there be? An slightly-built elderly nun is stabbed nearly 30 times in a chapel on the eve or her birthday and the eve of Easter? That is a tragedy that you'd think would be discussed over and over again, but the truth is that beyond these news articles there was not one official "peep" about the murder until the arrest of Robinson in 2004.

The fact that this wasn't mentioned officially again for 20 years is what is the most strange to me.

Also, I did write in another post that the media accounts didn't mention much about her being sexually assaulted. These early news accounts wrote that she was molested and pretty much downplayed it. They wrote nothing about her undergarments being pulled down or her dress being neatly rolled up. That was not revealed until recently. I believe that the medical examiner determined that she was raped with some type of "something." I think at the time, there was probably a strong desire by the media to preserve her dignity as much as there was a strong desire to preserve the image of the institutional church in all of this.

I just wish that the Robinson defense team would go after the records at the diocese. If their internal investigation reveals something that would exonerate their client it seems to me that the defense is obligated to go after it.


I was wondering when you would weigh in again.

I have read dozens of newspaper accounts on, including many articles from the Toledo Blade. They clearly and repeatedly said that Sister Pahl may have been sexually assaulted, and the articles from 2004 about Robinson's arrest repeatedly said that there were burning candles around her body. I'll go and get a screen capture of one to prove it to you and add it to this post. I can't find an "early" account because the Toledo Blade has been taken out of the archive, why I don't know, so I can't state that the articles from 1980 included this detail, but I specifically recall that they did. Since I can't prove it to you, I'll delete the word early.
But frankly the dissemination of this gross misstatement of fact in 2004 was more harmful. It was more likely to be read by the jury pool. It was less forgivable because there was no deadline involved.


PS the Toledo Blade archive is no longer on It was yanked a few months ago, I'm not sure why. But the Associated Press was vigorous in reporting the "lit candles" thing, and that is the account that made it into many, many newspapers across Ohio.

L. Manning

Ah, this was the "pillowcase case." An early example of CSI-type detection which received nation-wide headlines at the time. The body, or significant bits of it, was stuffed in a pillowcase. Detectives traced the manufacturer, the retailer and finally the customer, and identified the victim and her killer.

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