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Sisters Charged in Mich. Slaying

May 24, 1998 GMT

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) _ Two sisters were accused Saturday of killing a social worker who had arranged to have the older sister’s children taken from their filthy home.

Josephine Verellen, 28, and Jacqueline Verellen, 22, cried and hugged each other as they were ordered held without bond on a first-degree murder charge in the death of Lisa Putman, 28.

``I’m sorry,″ Josephine whispered to Judge Joseph Boedeker.

Ms. Putman, who worked for Macomb County’s Child Protective Services, went to the sisters’ wood-frame house Wednesday to explain how Josephine could get her children back, said Sheriff’s Sgt. John Michalke.

Josephine’s 7- and 8-year-old children had been taken and placed in foster care because agents said her home in Washington was unsafe and unsanitary.

``It was filled with animal feces, garbage, flies. It was absolute squalor. It was uninhabitable,″ Michalke said.

Ms. Putman’s car was found abandoned several miles from the sisters’ house. Her body was found in a field in neighboring Oakland County. An autopsy showed she died of blunt force trauma and asphyxiation.

Michalke said that the women eventually admitted to police that Ms. Putman had been attacked.

``She was killed because they were going to kill her. This was the person who represented the system. It was displaced anger,″ said sheriff’s inspector Rick Kalm.

Ms. Putman represented everything the sisters were not, Kalm said.

``She was pretty, successful, educated.″

The sisters were arrested Friday after one of them told authorities where to find Ms. Putman’s body. Investigators declined to say which sister.