2 of 4 Nuns Die in Attack at Maine Convent; Man Held

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Four nuns were beaten and stabbed after a prayer service in their convent, and a man who allegedly bludgeoned at least one of them with a religious statue was in custody.

Two of the nuns died and the other two were hospitalized Sunday.

Police did not know a motive for the attacks Saturday night at the convent of the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, according to Stephen McCausland of the state Public Safety Department.

The Roman Catholic nuns had finished an evening prayer service when the intruder smashed the glass on a locked door, opened it and walked inside. One of the women was attacked in the chapel and the other three in an adjacent part of the convent.


Mark A. Bechard, 37, of Waterville, who had a history of mental problems, surrendered without resistance when police arrived.

The officers “took Mr. Bechard off one nun he was beating,” said Police Chief John Morris. Bechard was using a religious statue to beat the woman, police said.

Morris said that Bechard was known to the nuns and had worshiped in their chapel.

The convent’s five other nuns were in seclusion and did not answer calls Sunday. A sign taped to the inside of the locked chapel door said: “Chapel closed except for Mass. Pray for us.”

Mother Superior Edna Mary Cardozo, 68, died of head injuries Saturday at a hospital in Augusta. Sister Mary Julien Fortin, 67, died early Sunday of multiple stab wounds to the face and head, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Sister Mary Anna DiGiacomo, 72, was in serious condition early today, and Sister Patricia Keane, 68, was in good condition.

Bechard was charged with one count of murder. Other charges are expected to be filed this week. He is being held without bail.