Father Gerald Robinson
With Easter Sunday of 1980 looming less than twenty-four hours later, Toledo residents were shocked to hear that a nun had been brutally murdered in a local hospital’s chapel. The victim was Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, seventy-one, who was in charge of upkeep at the chapel. Pahl was found with over 30 stab wounds to her face, chest and neck. Nine of the stabbing blows on her chest seem to have intentionally been shaped into an upside down cross. The wounds had an unusual shape to them but the weapon was not left at the scene so the detectives were unsure what had caused them. In a final indignity, Pahl was left with her arms crossed over her body, draped in an alter cloth, and with her own blood wiped on her forehead in the shape of a cross.
The chapel’s priest, Father Gerald Robinson, presided over the funeral. He was one of the few suspects in the case, given his close proximity to the victim and the crime scene. Robinson was brought in to the police station for questioning, but during the session a local Catholic official came in, stopped all proceedings and took Robinson home. With no solid leads or evidence, the case fell cold for the next twenty-three years.
It was in 2003 when the police were sent an anonymous letter from a female who claimed that Robinson and others had taken her for Satanic rituals, sexually assaulted her and even allowed her to see evidence of human sacrifices that had been undertaken. This prompted renewed interest in Robinson. A search warrant was approved and Robinson’s office was searched. It was then that a letter opener was found that some investigators felt might have accounted for the odd wounds on Pahl. Pahl was exhumed and the coroner was willing to accept that the letter opener was indeed the murder weapon. Robinson was then placed under arrest for murder.
At his trial, the prosecution suggested that Robinson killed Pahl for harping on him over his sermons, including the one he gave at the Good Friday mass the day before Pahl was killed. Robinson was found guilty in May 2006 and lived in prison until his death in the summer of 2014. It is believed that Robinson is the only Catholic priest who was ever convicted of murdering a nun.
The Tragedy Which Inspired Fastball’s Hit Song “The Way”
Raymond and Lela Howard lived a life of anonymity until the mystery of the final hours of their lives led to them becoming immortalized in song. The couple, both in their eighties, had been planning on heading to an event only fifteen miles from their Texas home on June 29th, 1997. For some reason, mostly believed to be due to confusion caused by their advanced age, the couple wound up over five hundred miles from their intended destination. The pair spoke to a police officer in Arkansas who pulled them over for driving without their headlights on. Less than an hour later another cop pulled them over for driving with their lights set to the bright beams while facing incoming traffic. Since the Howard’s family had yet to spread the alert about the missing octogenarians, neither of the officers had any cause to detain the duo. Once a report was filed on the Howard’s, search and rescue crews took to the roads and the air in Arkansas in an all out effort to hopefully secure a happy ending to the story that was unfolding.
Back at the Howard’s home, clothes were found laid out on their bed as if they were perhaps planning on packing for a vacation. Their toothbrushes and hearing aids remained in the bathroom, indicating that wherever the Howard’s went, they did not go prepared for a long stay.
Two weeks after their disappearance the Howard’s story came to a sad finale. Hikers located their vehicle on the bottom of a 25-foot cliff near a highway in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The heavy plant life around the area had shielded the vehicle from being discovered earlier. The bodies inside showed the effects of the crash, and it was estimated that the car had probably crashed there soon after the cops had seen the twosome. The Howard’s had relatives in Hot Springs and may have been trying to go and visit them.
At the onset of the search the Howard’s plight made the papers. It was there that the band “Fastball” first saw the story. Within hours the mystery had inspired them enough to write and create what would become the song “The Way”. The tune is somewhat haunting, with illusions to the elderly pair finding youth and immortality while traveling on endless roads. By the end of the song, the lyrics heavily hint toward the couple ending up deceased, with promises that “They’ll never get hungry, they’ll never get old and gray”
Upon the song’s release the following year, it became a sensation which ended up as the number one song on the Billboard Modern Rock charts. “The Way” held that spot for nearly two months.
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