Sunday, September 5, 2010

Raped & Murdered In Broad Daylight

Raped & Murdered

At 10:30 a.m. on June 13, 1977, Sister Roberta Elam stopped by the kitchen for a snack at the Mt. St. Joseph convent before walking to a secluded area near the motherhouse for meditation. What started as her first day of silent retreat ended as the last day of her life.
A groundskeeper found her nude body a little more than three hours later. Investigators determined she had been strangled by hand and raped in the full light of day. Her body lay near an overturned bench in an area frequented by nuns for prayer and silent contemplation. The area is about 500 yards from the main buildings at Mt. St. Joseph, near Olgebay Park's Speidel Golf Course and several farms; just off Pogue Run Road in Wheeling, W.Va.
Sister Robin, as she was known, was a 26-year-old postulant nun from Allentown, N.J. who had been assigned to the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston's downtown Wheeling office. She served as coordinator of the adult religious program operated by the diocese in small towns and rural areas throughout West Virginia.
Ohio County Sheriff's deputies speculated that Sister Robin had been praying or meditating while seated on the bench when an assailant jumped from behind a nearby bushy area and grabbed her. They concluded that the attacker dragged her by the throat approximately 50 feet before sexually assaulting and murdering her. Bruises on her neck and legs documented the brutality she endured.
Acting Coroner estimated Sister Robin, who was wearing slacks and a white blouse rather than a habit, had been died between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
After a police and bloodhounds search yielded no suspects, investigators worked around the clock for days. Detective Norman Sayre said more than 50 telephone calls from people submitting information had  police checking dozens of leads. They conferred with Washington County, Pa., officials to see if any similarities existed between Sister Robin's murder and four murder/rape cases in their jurisdiction. They ruled that possibility out after learning the Washington County victims had been strangled by articles of clothing rather than by hand. If any link had been found, the door could have been opened for Federal Bureau of Investigation agents to enter the case.
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