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Knives seized in investigation of nun killing

Miami Bureau
Posted April 11 2001

MIAMI — Homicide detectives say the monastic trainee who is charged with murdering a nun at Holy Cross Academy may have been writing a thesis on the death penalty while taking classes at Barry University.

Two days after they arrested Mykhaylo Kofel, 18, in the murder of Sister Michelle Lewis, police used a search warrant based on his confession to remove items from a house that Holy Cross owns near the university.

On a form describing what was taken into custody, detectives list three steak knives, a bloody sheet and the central processing unit of a personal computer.

They say in the affidavit for the warrant that the steak knives match one found at the murder scene on the grounds at Holy Cross.

Kofel and other monastic students taking classes at Barry have been using the house in Miami Shores rather than making the 50-mile round trip to the academy near Kendall, a spokesman for the academy confirmed Tuesday.

County property records show the church bought the three-bedroom house in December.

The lead investigator, Miami-Dade County homicide detective Arthur Nanni, says in a March 28 affidavit that Kofel confessed to the killing and “told detectives about frustrations and concerns that he had living at Holy Cross Academy.”

In his confession, Kofel says 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.

Through private attorneys and other spokesmen for Holy Cross Academy, the clerics adamantly deny Kofel’s allegations of abuse. Kofel’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Edith Georgi, declined to comment on the search or the so-called death penalty thesis.

Copyright © 2001, South Florida Sun-Sentinel