On the last night of her life, Sister Michelle Lewis worked on a Byzantine icon she was embroidering as she watched a television show about skaters, sitting alone in the living room of the two-bedroom, two-bath convent house she shared with another nun at Holy Cross Academy in Miami, Florida.
She told her housemate, Sister Marie Lurz, that she had permission to watch the show, and invited her to stay up and watch. But Sister Marie, 83, had research papers to grade.
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 at 6 the next morning, March 25, a Sunday. Sister Marie knocked on the bedroom door two or three times, as hard as she could, she told the detectives, 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 40 times, her naked body discovered in the bedroom that Sister Marie could not enter.
Her assailant was a young monk in training at the school. He was apprehended and plead guilty and was sentenced to 30 year a few years after the school closed.