Death Penalty Term Paper Found At Student Monk’s Home

Author: David Green
Date Published: 04/11/2001

Miami-Dade homicide detectives found a document titled Death Penalty Thesis on a computer at the home of a student monk accused of murdering a nun, according to a search warrant released Tuesday.

They were looking for letters or diaries belonging to Mykhaylo Kofel. The 18-year-old confessed to stabbing Sister Michelle Lewis to death at Holy Cross Academy on March 25. He is charged with first-degree murder.

Kofel had said he took the murder knife from a duplex at 92 NE 117th St. The aspiring monk lived there four days a week while taking courses at Barry University.

Armed with the warrant, Detective Arthur Nanni and others went there three days after the killing. They were hunting for three matching knives, a bloody sheet and notes belonging to Kofel.

When Nanni turned on a computer in the duplex, he spotted a file named Death Penalty Thesis – Mykhaylo Kofel. Officials confiscated the hard drive.

It turned out to be a short term paper questioning the merits of the death penalty and examining the cost of housing Death Row inmates, sources familiar with the criminal investigation said. But the sources said that it was written by another Holy Cross student monk, 20-year-old Petro Torenta.

He and Kofel are among five Ukranians studying at the West Kendall academy. It was not known whether Kofel had read Torenta’s paper.

The case began when Lewis’ partly clothed body was found in a bedroom of the house where she lived on the grounds of the Byzantine Catholic school in West Kendall. She was naked from the waist down, sources said.

Noticing a blood trail on the academy grounds, detectives knocked on the door of the house where Kofel and the other student monks live during the rest of the week.

They immediately noticed cuts on Kofel’s hands. Under questioning, he later told detectives he stabbed Lewis because she was verbally abusive.