Thursday, November 25, 2010


September 13, 1883
By John P. Tolder

VALLEJO, CALIF. –A man murdered and a nun – his own cousin – charged with the bloody crime! A convent stunned and a prominent California family shattered! This only partially tells the tale of one of the most dreadful crimes of modern times. This quiet law-abiding town has been rocked by a grizzly killing, the kind of sensational crime that is not likely to disappear quickly from the headlines or the imaginations of the stunned local populace.

“This is not your everyday murder,” observed District Attorney G.W. Wordsworck. “The grim and sordid details would satisfy even the most blood-thirsty criminal minds.”

Wordsworck promised to seek the death penalty. “If the nun is convicted, I promise you, she will hang.”

A mighty retinue of state and local law enforcement authorities have descended on this pleasant locale, known for its groves of huge live oak trees, to investigate the death of one Antonie Quiero de Lopez, a prominent (and the ladies agree, a handsome) landowner, discovered lying face up on September 3rd in a pool of blood in the bedroom of his magnificent hacienda-style home. According to authorities, his jugular vein had been severed with a straight razor. And in a gory detail, his Adam's apple was cored out of his neck!

Arrested and held without bail in the murder is a young novitiate of the Sisters of Saint Dominic. On September 4, exactly a day after the horrific crime, Sister Maria Rosa Renata (a first cousin of Senor Quiero de Lopez) was arrested and escorted from the convent, her head unveiled and hanging in shame.

The very same day she was arrested, a sheriff's deputy found the nun's discarded black habit, coated in blood. "It had been buried hastily behind the vegetable garden," Wordsworck said.

The devoted nuns who remained in the convent were said to be in a frightful state, mortified by the idea that one of their own was capable of such brutality. One nun, Sister Teresa, said it was "hard to believe" that Renata was capable of this vicious crime. "I'm certain she will be cleared."

The accused remains behind bars in Gallejo in the county jail while authorities prepare their murder case.

The nun would say only that she had been the "victim of a complicated conspiracy orchestrated" by her cousin to frame her for his murder.

Central to the case, according to authorities, is the discovery of a set of highly incriminating (and blood-stained) hand-written pages found in the victim’s rolltop desk. Sheriff’s authorities say the documents provide a titillating account that lays out, scene by scene, the shocking details of the Sister Renata’s lurid relationship with her cousin. The documents also describe the way the murder occurred.

“These documents not only place Sister Renata at the crime scene but show us in perfect detail how and why she killed her cousin,” D.A. Wordsworck said. “It is fair to say that these documents guided us right to the culprit’s door. They laid our case right at her feet. From the writing we see that Sister Renata is not only a murderess but a lying seductress too. She managed to live a double life, and she kept her fellow nuns in the dark about her behavior. That double life has ended now.”

Wordsworck called the letters “a godsend to find. But it is frightful for this evidence to come to light, since the letters reveal a cold-blooded, cold-hearted, premeditated crime.”

Considering the circumstances and the public outcry, Wordswork said the death penalty is in order. “It is the only suitable punishment for this ‘truly wicked’ crime. I'm going to see the nun hang!”

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