Roberta Edwards
Estes Church of Christ/Twitter

A Tennessee missionary was killed over the weekend in Haiti when her car was intentionally blocked and gunmen opened fire, officials from the Estes Church of Christ and eyewitnesses claim, the Jackson Sun reports.

Roberta Edwards, who was the administrator at Sonlight Ministries Children's Home in Port-au-Prince, cared for 20 orphaned or unwanted children in her own home, the news site notes. She also directed a nutrition center that feeds 160 children twice a day, five days a week, and provides funds for the children to go to school. The Estes Church of Christ in Henderson, Tenn., has supervised her missionary work since 2002.

According to Jesse Robertson, the minister at Estes Church of Christ, Edwards had recently bought a home in Henderson and was talking about retiring but was not quite ready to do so. 

Bobbie Solley, a missionary with Healing Hands International in Nashville, Tenn., was in Haiti when Edwards was killed. “She was a fabulous woman. … Her only concern was the children of Haiti and the children she was caring for,” Solley told the news site.

Solley said that she had been staying in a guesthouse at Sonlight Ministries and had spent Saturday evening with Edwards, who left the guesthouse around 8:30 p.m. Solley went to bed, only to be awoken sometime between 10:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. to learn that Edwards had been killed and that one of the three boys who were with her at the time had been kidnapped. 

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“Two of the boys got away from the gunmen and ran for help,” Solley, who returned to Tennessee the following night, said. “A 4-year-old boy was taken. We haven’t heard a word about him yet.”

There are currently no suspects and no idea of the motive behind the murder. The authorities in Haiti are investigating. Still, the remaining missionaries in Haiti have been pulled out, and there is no known schedule for their return. 

“We have other folks there, but it’s important they come home today,” Robertson said. “We don’t feel they are being targeted, but we’ve increased security features.

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“We feel this is an isolated incident,” he added. “The team going back will be more experienced. We don’t feel [missionaries] are being targeted, but we’re being cautious.”

Memorial services for Edwards will be held in Haiti, Henderson and Wilmington, N.C., where she was from originally.

“We’re in shock, and tears have been shed,” Robertson said. “But we will continue to provide care for the mission in Haiti.”

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