Sister Michelle Lewis, 39, was one of two nuns that lived at Holy Cross Academy in Miami, Florida. On the night of March 24, 2001 she watched television until 9:30 p.m. and then went to sleep. Her room was situated on the south side of the living quarters. Sister Marie Lurz, 83, woke up the following morning and went to Sister's Michelle's room and found it locked. She became alarmed thinking something had occurred to the Sister Michelle who suffered from asthma. The grisly truth that was found on the other side of the door was far beyond what her imagination could conjure as to why the younger sister did not answer her calls.
The previous night after the TV went off at 9:30 p.m., Sister Marie heard no other sound but the quiet humming of the air conditioner before finally falling asleep two hours later in her bedroom on the south side of the house.
She assumed that Sister Michelle was already asleep in her room on the north side.
With both bedroom doors closed, Sister Marie did not hear her housemate’s repeated screams for help, and did not suspect anything was awry until she awoke the next morning.
Sister Marie told detectives that she had knocked on the bedroom door two or three times, as hard as she could, then tried the knob. The door was locked.
The thought came to her, as she set out to walk to the monastery, “that maybe she is dead.” Sister Michelle had asthma, and maybe she had an attack during the night and died, she thought.
A half-hour later, she would learn that Sister Michelle had been brutally murdered during the night, stabbed more than 90 times, her naked body discovered in the bedroom that Sister Marie could not enter.
Holy Cross Academy was run by the brotherhood of Holy Protection Monastery and established in 1985 as a Byzantine Rite Catholic institution. The monastery was received into the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) in October of 2003 and identified itself in accreditation records as "an independent, self-governing school in the educational tradition of the Catholic faith though not under the control of any church hierarchy".
In August 2004, the worn stone hallways and classrooms where black-robed instructors once taught Eastern Catholic ideals became the new
home of Archimedean Academy, a Southwest Miami-Dade charter
school billed as "a conservatory of mathematics and the Greek
language." It was believed the school was closed after a large number of parents withdrew students due to the scandal of the murder.
The day after the crime, Mykhaylo Kofel, 18, a Ukraine native and monastic trainee confessed to the murder. He told detective about "frustrations and concerns that he had living at Holy Cross Academy."
In his confession, Kofel said that he was sexually molested over four years by Abbot Father Gregory F.G. Wendt and the Rev. Damian J.A. Gibault, the two senior clerics at Holy Cross, and verbally abused by Sister Michelle who had belittled him.
He said he intended only to hurt Lewis when he entered her room after drinking half a bottle of wine and brooding about his life. He claimed he accidentally killed her with a steak knife and a fire poker.
In exchange for a guilty plea, he was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 30 years in 2005. The plea was accepted as the prosecuting attorney believed his claim of being sexually abused. Initially they were seeking the death penalty.
Prosecutors soon focused their efforts on getting the two men, Rev. Abbot Gregory Wendt and his assistant, Rev. Damian Gibault, to cooperate with the investigation but had little success.
A team of 15 lawyers and an investigator paid by the church's insurance company instructed the men to remain silent, frustrating prosecutors and Kofel's public defender. Neither of the men had been charged.
The attempts to question the priests fostered an unusual alliance between prosecutors and defense attorneys. Lawyers from both sides agreed that while the killing was intolerable, Kofel also was a victim. The attorneys lashed out at the two clerics. "We struggled in this case, and these so-called religious leaders blocked every one of our efforts," lead prosecutor Gail Levine said. "Now, the people who wronged him should take responsibility for what they have done."
Kofel's plea closed a case that startled South Florida, took investigators to New York and his native Ukraine and focused public attention on a little-known religious order that was uprooted by scandal, violence and tragedy.
The two former school officials stilled live as monks in South Florida in 2005, it's unknown if present-day they still do.
Source - Murderpedia
Marlene at Miami Ghost Chronicles is a freelance paranormal investigator and writer.
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