Church mourns longtime member's murder

By Gregory

WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCIV) -- For the past couple weeks, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been fasting and praying for one of their church members to be found.

On Saturday, they finally received the closure they had been waiting for when a church leader announced that 77-year-old Julia Mudgett found. Many were brought to tears when they found out she wasn't alive.

"She very much loved her husband, and I am so grateful that they are together and we believe that families are forever so that gives a certain comfort to the pain of the loss," said Jaime Michaelsen, a member of the church who was friends with Mudgett.

Deputies charged 53-year-old Jerry Manigault with Mudgett's death. Saturday he faced a bond court judge with murder and first-degree burglary charges.

During Sunday service, the church not only prayed for Julia Mudgett and her family, but they also prayed for the suspect as well.

"Justice is the Lord's," said Bishop Peter Schlegel. "We petitioned to the Lord for mercy upon his soul and we hope that he would repent and try to lead a better life than what he was.

Bishop Schlegel says he can't understand why anyone would murder Mudgett, but not even death could put an end to a friendship that has lasted more than 20 years.

"We are always going to keep a special place in our hearts for her, and I know one day we will be able to see her once again," said Bishop Schlegel.

The church is expected to hold a memorial for Mudgett this Wednesday. Any who knew her are invited to attend.