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Fiery Standoff Now a Missing Persons Case

SCRANTON, Pa. -- The body of a nun is nowhere to be found. She is presumed dead after her nephew was in a standoff with police and torched the home they shared in Scranton.

This is now considered a missing persons case.

It didn't take long to tear down what was left of the house on Washburn Street after an exhaustive search over the course of four days.

Investigators were unable to find the body of Sister Angela Miller. Police believe the nun and her sister Rosemary Smith were killed before the fire even started.

After four days of searching within the walls of the house, searchers found nothing.

They were looking for Miller, but her body was not where investigators thought it would be.

Her fellow sisters with the Immaculate Heart of Mary Congregation released this statement:

"We deeply appreciate the outpouring of prayers, wishes, and efforts extended to us by so many in the Scranton community and beyond since this tragedy. We extend our heartfelt thanks to police and fire personnel and all public officials for their heroic efforts."

Their efforts to find Sister Angela now extend beyond the walls of the house.

"We're broadening, certainly, our search for Sister Angela," said Scranton Police Chief Carl Graziano. "We're trying to use as many resources as we can."

A state police helicopter scanned west Scranton from above while crews made a final sweep of the house.

"This is taking a great deal of time because you can see as they're dumping it out on the street, they're checking to see that there's nothing in there that we need to see," said Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright.

When searchers were confident Sister Angela's body was not inside, police gave the OK to start demolition. As the house came down, questions mounted.

Police now believe Alan Smith killed his mother Rosemary Smith and his aunt Sister Angela Miller sometime between 9:30 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday. That's when police arrived to serve protection from abuse orders that both women had filed against Smith.

"We believe that his mom was already dead when we were on scene, before we even got here. There was no shooting inside of the house other than out at us when we were on scene," the chief said.

Police found what could be blood in the back of a car taken from the property on Washburn Street.

"It's certainly starting to look like something more went on than what we believe initially happened," said Chief Graziano.

The police chief says this is now a missing person case and a suspected homicide. We learned Monday that Alan Smith was released from prison about a year and a half ago, and as a convicted felon, he was not allowed to have a gun. Yet, officers say he used a shotgun to kill his mother and then shoot at officers before setting the house on fire.

3 comments

  • Rusty Knyffe

    This is such a dreadful tragedy that could have been avoided. These poor victims knew that the perpetrator was a danger to everyone, and a PFA is probably about the most useless sheet of paper. Someone has to report a violation of the order, meanwhile the person against whom the order has been granted is busy tending to their violence before a response team can even get to the location.

    As I typed, previously, never allowing the creep into the home in the first place might have been the first and only necessary step to prevent this specific tragedy.

    May these victims rest in peace and I hope that Sister Angela is found, soon. What a horrible thing.

  • burtfan16

    So he wasn’t supposed to be near a day care and he wasn’t supposed to have access to firearms. Who the hell was keeping their eye on this guy? Dumb question….obviously no one.

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