1969 Mystery: Who Killed Sister Cathy?

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Recently on Netflix, I watched a sad and very disturbing program called The Keepers, "a seven-part docuseries about the unsolved murder of a nun and the horrific secrets and pain that linger nearly five decades after her death", so I am posting here various articles and such that are connected to this crime.

Who Killed Sister Cathy?
45 Years Later, the Search for Answers Goes On.
sr cathy
bud roemer
YEARBOOK: (from top) Photographs of Sister Catherine Cesnik, Father A. Joseph Maskell, Joyce Malecki, and Baltimore County Police Capt. Bud Roemer dating from around the time Cesnik and Malecki were murdered

By Tom Nugent
(NOTE: Link to Tom Nugent's blog: https://insidebaltimore.org/)

The old man sat on a metal folding chair in his Essex garage. His big right hand reached out to a wooden table, to a faded police autopsy photo lying there.“Do you see that hole in the back of her skull?” asked Louis George “Bud” Roemer, a retired homicide detective formerly with the Baltimore County Police Department. Wrinkled and white-haired, he pointed to one side of the yellowing photograph he had dug out of a box of files. “That hole is perfectly round, and about the size of a quarter.“I’ve studied that photo over and over again, trying to imagine how she might have died,” he said. “A hole like that—it looks to me like it could’ve been made with a ball-peen hammer.”He paused for a moment, as he recalled the still unsolved murder of Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik, whose body was discovered 35 years ago this month.

“It might have been a hammer,” Roemer continued. “Or maybe a tire iron. Or maybe it was a priest’s ring—one of those heavy gold rings a lot of Catholic priests wear. A priest’s ring would make a hole like that, if he hit her hard enough.”

He fell silent, and leaned back in his chair. He was struggling with diabetes, he said, and talking about the Cesnik case always left him feeling fatigued, and frustrated.

“Every homicide cop has one case that haunts him to the end of his career, and Sister Cathy is mine,” Roemer said. “I sure do wish we could close this one out, before I kick the bucket.”
The body of the 26-year-old nun was found Jan. 3, 1970, in southwest Baltimore County. The circumstances surrounding the case were mysterious and disturbing at the time; in the wake of a City Paper investigation, those circumstances seem even more disturbing now. Years after Cesnik’s murder, a lawsuit documented numerous findings of sexual abuse at the Catholic high school for girls where Cesnik taught shortly before her death. City Paper’s investigation also reveals that a second young murder victim (killed only four days after Cesnik vanished, and only a few miles from where the nun died) attended the same Catholic church where the alleged sex-abuser had been serving as parish priest.

The baffling crimes both remain unsolved to this day. And yet the FBI and Baltimore County Police Department—both of which have recently opened formal reinvestigations into the killings—say they haven’t attempted to make any connection between them.

Roemer helped to solve more than 150 murders during his 23 years as a county cop before retiring as a major in 1975. But he never found the killer of Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik; he died of complications from diabetes on June 10, at age 79. But in interviews conducted before his death, he found these so-far-unexamined connections deeply upsetting. “The more you look at the Cesnik murder case, the more it looks like somebody was trying to cover something up,” he said.

“There was something wrong at the Catholic high school where Sister Cathy taught,” Roemer said while reviewing evidence previously unknown to him. “What you had there was a whole lot of sex going on among priests and students. Can you imagine the scandal, in 1970, if that stuff had ever come out in a trial? Hell, it could have blown the lid right off the Church!

“It doesn’t make any sense to me. Never did. No, there was something going on at that school, and it all came to a head. And when it did, Sister Cathy wound up on the garbage dump with her skull caved in.”
Bud Roemer always drank his coffee black. He was in the middle of his third or fourth cup on the morning of Jan. 3, 1970—a Saturday—when the telephone rang: “Captain Roemer, it’s for you. Halethorpe Precinct.”
Roemer picked up the phone. As the commander of the “M Squad”—the Major Crimes Investigative Unit at Baltimore County Police headquarters in Towson—he was in charge of all criminal investigations involving murder, rape, and armed robbery.
It had been a busy week. Along with their usual caseload of tavern stabbings and liquor store holdups, the dozen officers in the M Squad had been doing their best to help out with a continuing Baltimore City Police investigation into the strange disappearance of youthful teaching nun, Sister Cathy Cesnik, two months before.
In heavily Catholic Baltimore, the apparent abduction of a well-liked, attractive member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame was big news. Day after day, The Sun and News-American had been giving the story prominent play, while running one dramatic headline after the next: “City Police Search for Missing Nun: 26 Officers Combing Area With K-9 Corps Dogs.”
Described by students and fellow teachers alike as a dedicated, enthusiastic English and drama teacher, Cesnik had vanished on Nov. 7 during a brief, early evening trip to a shopping center about a mile from the Westgate apartment she shared with another Notre Dame nun, Sister Helen Russell Phillips. For almost two months, state and local police investigators had been unable to find a trace of her.
The caller was an excited uniformed police officer in the Halethorpe Precinct of the county police department. Talking fast, the officer told the M Squad captain that two hunters had just called to report what looked like a “woman’s body” lying near a garbage dump off Monumental Avenue, in an isolated, wooded area in the southwest Baltimore County community of Lansdowne.
Moments later, Roemer and several members of the M Squad climbed into one of the department’s unmarked black Plymouths for the 20-mile ride to Lansdowne.
“It was snowing when we got to the dump, and cold as a sonofabitch,” the detective recalled in the spring of 2004. “The body was pretty much covered by snow, but it didn’t take us long to figure out who she was. When I walked up on that dump, I said, ‘Hello, Cathy Cesnik.’
“She was lying on her back, on the slope of a little hill, with her purse and one shoe a few feet away. As soon as we opened the purse, we found a prescription bottle with her name printed on it.
“We worked that crime scene all day long. We called in the medical examiner and we asked for an autopsy right away. We went through our standard procedure, that’s all. I guess we spent four or five hours out there, and it was nearly dark when we finally sent the body off to the morgue.”
Like Roemer, retired Baltimore County Police Capt. James L. Scannell says he has never forgotten finding the nun’s body on the frozen field that day. “I remember her blue coat, and the purse nearby,” says the 74-year-old Scannell, who spent 37 years as a county police officer before retiring in 1992.
“You gotta remember, she’d been laying out on the dump all this time, and the varmints had gotten to her,” Roemer added. “So whether she was raped or sexually molested, I don’t know. And I don’t think anybody ever will know, because the [Baltimore County] medical examiner reported [in his autopsy] that it was impossible to determine if the nun had been sexually assaulted.”
Although the grisly scene would trouble some of the investigators for years, Roemer remained unfazed. “I was used to it by then,” he recalled. “I’d seen a lot of violence during my years as a detective, and after a while you realize it’s just part of the job.
“But I took my job to heart, and I put everything I had into it. When we were working a murder case like the one with Sister Cathy, a 12-hour day was strictly routine.”
The next morning, a Sunday, Capt. Roemer and his M Squad detectives threw themselves into what would become a fruitless five-year quest to identify Sister Cathy Cesnik’s murderer.
They started with the Maryland Medical Examiner’s autopsy report, which stated that the teaching sister from Baltimore’s Archbishop Keough High School for Girls had been beaten to death. The nun had died of blunt-force trauma to one side of her head—along with a blow that had left a round hole in the back of her skull.
Mulling the autopsy, Roemer soon found himself contemplating a likely scenario: A stranger had probably abducted Cesnik from the Edmondson Village Shopping Center on Edmondson Avenue near her apartment, where she’d gone to cash a check and buy some dinner rolls at about 7 p.m. on the evening of Friday, Nov. 7. In all likelihood, the unknown assailant had then killed the nun and dumped her body about five miles away, in Lansdowne.
But his hypothesis was contradicted by one troubling fact: The nun’s car, a green 1969 Ford Maverick, had been parked near her Carriage House apartment complex only a few hours after she drove off to the shopping center.
“I’d been working homicide for about 10 years when Sister Cathy was killed,” Roemer said, “and I’d never heard of a ‘random killing’ where the stranger who kills you carefully returns your car to your apartment house. In that situation, the killer usually wants to get the hell away from there. The last thing he wants is to return to the area, where he might be spotted driving the victim’s car.”
How had the dead woman’s Ford gotten back to her apartment complex? In an effort to solve the puzzle, Roemer sat down with two Baltimore City detectives—Harry Bannon and Tony Glover, now both retired—who had directed the search for the missing nun during the previous two months. What Roemer learned from the city detectives was also deeply troubling.
For starters, Roemer was surprised to discover that the nun’s roommate—Sister Helen Russell Phillips—had not called the police after becoming alarmed when Cesnik failed to return from the brief shopping trip by 11 p.m. Instead, Phillips had phoned a Catholic priest living in a Jesuit community known as Manresa, located near Annapolis. Within a few minutes, Jesuit Father Gerard J. (“Gerry”) Koob—accompanied by a second Catholic brother, Peter McKeon—climbed into his car and drove to the Carriage House Apartments.
Koob and McKeon questioned Phillips about Cesnik’s shopping trip, and somewhere between midnight and 1 a.m. the three of them called the police and gave them a telephone report describing the nun’s disappearance. After several more hours of conversation, they later told detectives, they decided to take a walk around the neighborhood in order to calm their nerves. Around 4 a.m., while walking, they spotted Cesnik’s green Ford Maverick, parked at an odd angle, directly adjacent to the Carriage House parking lot.
Roemer listened carefully to all of this and quickly decided that he didn’t like it. “We made the decision that it was time to ‘put the heat on Koob,’” he said in the spring of 2004. During the many hours of interrogation that followed, Roemer asked the Jesuit priest again and again: “What, exactly, was the nature of your relationship with Sister Cathy Cesnik?”
At first, Roemer recalled, Father Koob insisted that the two were simply good friends who enjoyed a great deal of purely “platonic affection” for each other. “That’s fine,” he told the priest. “But why would Sister Russell have called you instead of the police after Cathy disappeared that night?”
Roemer understood the reason better a few days later, after visiting Father Koob’s residence at the Manresa Jesuit community. There, he said, he came across a letter Cesnik had written to the priest on Nov. 3, only a few days before she disappeared. (In an interview, Koob told City Paper he willingly gave the letter to the detective, in order to help the police with their investigation.)
Roemer read the letter, which did not reach Koob until after the nun’s murder, and concluded that the actual relationship between nun and priest had been far from platonic.
Interestingly enough, the letter begins with a reference to a song about what might happen if the nun suddenly vanished:
My very dearest Gerry,
“If Ever I Should Leave You’ is playing on the radio. I’m all curled up in bed. My ‘period’ has finally arrived, ten days late. . . . So you might say I’m moody. . . . My heart aches so for you.
The letter goes on to outline Cesnik’s struggle with her relationship with Koob:
I must wait on you—your time and your need—even more than I had before. . . . I think I can begin to live with that more easily now than I did two months ago, just loving you . . . within myself. . . .
Regardless, Cesnik had a future outside the church with the priest firmly in mind: “I must tell you, I want you within me. I want to have your children. . . .”
When Roemer showed the priest the letter, the detective later recalled, Koob “quickly broke down and admitted he was having sex with the nun. That didn’t make any difference to me, of course—that was their business. But it did put me on guard, because it told me that the Catholic Church would have a whole lot to lose, if that letter should ever get out.”
But Koob, today a 63-year-old married Methodist minister living in another state, has insists that he never had a physical relationship of any kind with Sister Cathy Cesnik.
She lies buried on the side of a steep hill in Sharpsburg, Pa., a threadbare suburban town directly across the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh. Her granite headstone offers the eye only four stone-carved words: sister catherine cesnik ssnd 1942-1969.
Her father, Joseph Cesnik, a former Pittsburgh postal worker, rests a few feet higher up the slope, along with several of his Slovenian-American ancestors.
Cathy Cesnik’s cousin Gregory Cesnik, now 46, attended his aunt’s burial service in January 1970. “I was only 12 years old at the time,” recalls Gregory Cesnik, today a certified public accountant. “But I’ve never forgotten the sorrow everybody felt or the look of anguish on her father’s face.”
Shrouded in snow on a recent winter morning, St. Mary’s Cemetery could be seen only dimly from the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh, on the other side of the slate-gray river. It was here, in a crowded neighborhood punctuated by half a dozen clattering steel mills, that Catherine Ann Cesnik lived out her 1950s childhood.
Early each morning during the school year, Cathy and her sisters left their family’s modest bungalow at 1023 Downlook St. and walked half a mile to the tiny parochial school that adjoined St. Mary’s Assumption on 57th Street. There she absorbed a thoroughly typical 1950s Catholic grade-school education—the kind of prayer-laced, deeply reverent tutelage provided in that era by the School Sisters of Notre Dame teaching order of nuns, who operated the school during Cathy’s childhood.
Intensely religious, Cathy was deeply impressed by some of her dedicated Notre Dame teachers—so impressed that by the time she moved on to St. Augustine Catholic High School in 1956 she was already thinking about entering the Notre Dame convent and becoming a School Sister herself. After graduating, Cathy entered the Baltimore Province convent of the School Sisters of Notre Dame on Sept. 29, 1960, as a “postulant,” or candidate for the sisterhood. After seven years of study, she professed her “final vows” on July 21, 1967.
The youthful nun had already begun her teaching career in 1965 at the newly opened Archbishop Keough High School on Caton Avenue in Southwest Baltimore. During the next four years, she would teach English and drama to several hundred students from the mostly working- class, Irish-American community nearby.
Gemma Hoskins, who would later enjoy a 30-year career as a public-school teacher—she was “Maryland Teacher of the Year” in 1992—remembers Cesnik as a deeply inspirational figure and a “terrific” teacher. “Catherine Cesnik is the reason I became a teacher,” says Hoskins, 52, today. “I still regard her as the finest teacher I ever had.”
More than a dozen other former Keough students described Cesnik as an outstanding teacher. “She was our ‘Pied Piper,’” said one, “the kind of teacher you never forget.”
Although Cesnik loved teaching, she appeared to be struggling with some inner turmoil during the spring of 1969. “To me, she seemed stressed out, perhaps even on the edge of a nervous breakdown,” one former student who asked not to be identified says. “She was exhausted and extremely nervous, and she missed a lot of school during the spring months.”
One of the possible reasons behind Cesnik’s apparent stress became clearer in June of that year, when she asked permission from her Notre Dame superiors to enter a period of “exclaustration,” an experiment in which she would live outside the convent, while also substituting civilian dress—skirts, blouses, dresses—for the traditional nun’s habit.
Permission was granted and Cesnik moved into a two-bedroom apartment at the Carriage House on North Bend Road. At the same time, the nun decided on a second experiment: Instead of teaching at Keough during the 1969-’70 school year, she would serve as a “missionary” teacher at a public school, Western High.
During the first few months of that school year, Cesnik shared her Carriage House apartment with a friend and fellow nun, Sister Helen Russell Phillips, who had also stopped wearing the habit and was also teaching at Western.
In interviews with City Paper, two former Keough students remembered their frequent visits to Cesnik at her Carriage House apartment, only a few months before she died. “I was also friends with Sister Russell, her friend and roommate, when they moved to the apartment on North Bend Road,” Kathey Payne of Ellicott City recalls. “I visited them there during that summer and I did some sewing for Sister Russell.”
Did one or more of the students who were visiting Cesnik’s apartment in the summer and fall of 1969 tell her about the sexual abuse that was taking place at the school? One former student later recounted in a City Paperinterview how she had gone to Cesnik for help after being abused by a priest at Keough, but the most startling evidence comes from now-retired Sister Mary Florita, a former School Sisters of Notre Dame teaching nun.
“I knew several of the kids at Keough,” says Marian Weller of Harrisburg, Pa., the former Sister Mary Florita. “And one of them described to me how three or four girls who were being abused by this priest had gone to Sister Cathy for help. There’s no question but that she knew about the abuse that was taking place during the months leading up to her death.”
Interviewed at length by City Paper, Koob essentially repeated what he’d told Roemer 35 years ago. He says he and Brother Peter McKeon immediately drove to the Carriage House. He says they talked with Sister Helen and then phoned the police to report Cesnik as a “missing person” somewhere between midnight and 1 a.m. A few hours later, around 4 a.m., Father Koob took a walk with the other priest and blundered into Cesnik’s car near the Carriage House.
Koob says that there were no indications that a struggle had taken place in the Ford.
“When we discovered the car, I was careful and I told [McKeon] to be careful,” Koob tells City Paper. “I think we both saw a little wastebasket spilled over—but that did not suggest a struggle to me. I believe Cathy would have frozen up and not struggled.”
For his part, Roemer was convinced that the absence of signs of struggle in the car clearly suggested that “whoever killed Sister Cathy had to be someone who knew her. That’s the only thing that makes sense, once you remember that her car was returned to her apartment complex after she was killed.”
Koob passed two separate lie-detector tests soon after the murder. His alibi—he had eaten dinner and taken in the movie Easy Rider with his priest friend in Annapolis before the call from Sister Helen—proved airtight. According to Baltimore County Police investigators then and now, Koob has never been a suspect in the murder. But some former police detectives continue to believe Koob knows more about what happened that night than he has told investigators.
Even more troubling, two retired investigators tell City Paper that while they were “putting the heat” on Koob, Catholic Church officials conferred with high-ranking police officials about the case. “We thought Koob was about to break,” retired Baltimore City homicide investigator Harry Bannon says. “And then the church lawyers stepped in and they talked to the higher-ups at the police department. And we were told, ‘Either charge Koob with a crime or let him go. Stop harassing him.’
“After that, we had to break away from him,” Bannon continues. “And that was a shame, because I’m sure Koob knew more than he was telling. We never did solve the case, and I think part of the reason was that we had to back away from Koob.”
Roemer agreed that his murder investigation “seemed to dry up” after Koob was allowed to walk away from the case. “Nobody ever told me to back off the investigation in order to protect the Catholic Church,” Roemer said. “And if they had, I wouldn’t have done it. But the word did come down from higher levels of the police department that we had to lay off Koob. And I couldn’t help wondering if maybe one of the Catholic officials had gotten to somebody high up in the police.”
For his part, Koob continues to insist that he gave the police everything he knew about Cesnik. He also says she never told him about sexual abuse at Keough, or about any alleged threats against students or teachers who spoke out publicly against the abuse.
In 1994, former Archdiocese of Baltimore spokesman William Blaul told reporters from The Sun that the church didn’t send lawyers to the Baltimore County Police Department to demand Koob be left alone. Current Archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine confirms that the Archdiocese did not interfere in the investigation.
By the time Bud Roemer retired from the Baltimore County Police Department in 1975, the Cesnik murder case had gone completely cold. For the next 20 years, the files and the evidence in the sensational killing would gather dust in a back room at police headquarters in Towson.
And then the case suddenly flared up again in 1994 after more than 30 men and women with firsthand knowledge of alleged abuse came forward to offer testimony in a shocking $40 million lawsuit. The suit sought damages for two former Keough students who claimed to have been injured by rampant sexual abuse at the school. According to the lawsuit, the abuser had been the school chaplain, a Diocesan priest named A. (Anthony) Joseph Maskell.
As listed in the plaintiffs’ formal complaint, the abuse included “vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, vaginal penetration with a vibrator, administration of enemas, . . . hypnosis, threats of physical violence, coerced prostitution and other lewd acts, physically striking Plaintiff, and forcing Plaintiff to perform sexual acts with a police officer.”
The list of charges troubled many Catholics in Baltimore. But those dramatic charges were soon eclipsed by testimony from one of the plaintiffs, identified only as “Jane Doe” for her protection, in which she claimed to have been taken to the Lansdowne garbage dump by Father Maskell in late November 1969 and shown the body of a dead nun, as a warning that she should say nothing public about the sexual abuse.
The sensational allegations of “Jane Doe” stunned Baltimore, and no one was more shocked than Roemer, who years later still reacted with amazement: “When I heard about the woman who was supposed to have been shown the nun’s body by Maskell, I could hardly believe my ears. If that was true, it meant the priest would have been involved in this thing up to his eyeballs!”
Until the lawsuit in 1994, Roemer said, he had never heard of Father Joseph Maskell or of the alleged abuse at Keough. His team of sleuths had completely missed this aspect of the investigation.
Although the abuse lawsuit brought in Baltimore County Circuit Court by the two former Keough students (“Jane Doe” and “Jane Roe”) was eventually dismissed on a technicality involving the courtroom admissibility of “recovered memory” evidence in Maryland, the testimony and depositions were so compelling that the Archdiocese conducted its own investigation of Maskell. After reviewing the evidence, church officials formally “revoked the faculties” of the priest and relieved him of his administrative duties as the pastor of St. Augustine’s parish in Elkridge.
Maskell, meanwhile, insisted he was completely innocent of all charges, then died at age 62 from the effects of a major stroke on May 7, 2001. The Archdiocese of Baltimore never reinstated him, after finding the evidence against him to be “credible,” according to archdiocesan spokesman Caine. The Archdiocese also confirmed for City Paper longstanding reports that Father Maskell had kept handguns at the parish rectory where he lived: “After his departure from St. Augustine’s in 1994, guns were found in the residence.”
Shortly before the lawsuit (Jane Doe et al. v. A. Joseph Maskell, et al.) was filed in 1994, “Doe” began telling police and newspaper reporters alike about her alleged trip with Father Maskell to the garbage dump to view the body of the dead nun. As The Sun reported on June 19, 1994, “in interviews with the police and Sun, [Jane Doe] provided details about the body that were known only to investigators at the time, and detectives have not dismissed her claims.”
Former priest Gerry Koob also recalls that investigators of Father Maskell in the mid-1990s told him that Doe had remembered the garbage dump accurately. “I heard nothing about this [the alleged abuse by Maskell and Doe’s trip to the dump] until the mid-1990s,” he says. “It seemed credible when I heard it, because the [police investigator] who told me about it said that the woman who was reporting the sexual abuse said that her abusers had taken her to see Cathy’s body, and that she knew details that had never been publicized.”
Although the preponderance of evidence suggests that Father Maskell committed acts of sexual abuse at Keough, many of his former parishioners, family members, and friends continue to defend him—including former police officers.
“I knew him for many years, and for about 10 of them he was the Baltimore County Police Department chaplain,” says former Baltimore County Police Capt. James B. Scannell, now 73 and retired. “Father Maskell loved to ride around in our police cars, and more than once he rode with me. He was a wonderful priest and a loyal friend.”
Retired Maryland State Police Lt. Col. Jim Jones, former director of personnel, says that Maskell had “done a terrific job” as the chaplain for the State Police for more than decade: “He was a wonderful priest, and he counseled many of our troopers and helped them a great deal.”
Other friends and family members point to the fact that Father Maskell’s brother, Lt. Tommy Maskell, had served with distinction as a member of the Baltimore City Police from 1946 to ’66.
But that same information—that Father Maskell maintained close connections with high-ranking state, county, and city police officials throughout his career as a Catholic priest—troubles several former students at Keough.
“He used to ride around at night in an unmarked patrol car with a cop,” says one woman who told City Papershe’d been abused. “They had a portable flasher they could stick on top of the car, and they would sneak up on kids who were making out and harass them. I remember feeling very frightened and very angry when I saw how Father Maskell and the police were getting away with that.”
On Nov. 13, 1969, six days after Sister Cathy Cesnik vanished, not to be found murdered for two long months, a second young woman—20-year-old Joyce Malecki—was found strangled and stabbed to death in a small creek located on the U.S. Army’s Fort Meade military base in Anne Arundel County, only a few miles from where Cesnik’s body would later turn up. That crime also has never been solved.
Malecki, a secretary for a liquor distributor in the Baltimore area, had been abducted from the parking lot of an E.J. Korvette’s department store in Glen Burnie. After disappearing around 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 11, Malecki resurfaced the following morning with her hands tied behind her back, lying face down in the Little Patuxent River at the military base. According to the autopsy, she had been strangled and stabbed several times in the throat; cause of death was strangulation.
Understandably, police investigators and newspaper reporters were intensely interested in the possibility that there might be some connection between the two killings, and their speculations were often reported on the front page in Baltimore. But no such link between the murders has ever been established, according to FBI and Baltimore police officials today. (The FBI held the original jurisdiction on the Malecki case because the body was found on a “government reservation.”)
A four-month investigation by City Paper did find some disturbing links between the two crimes:
  • An examination of the 1968-’69 Keough yearbook, The Aurora, shows that a gift was made to the school during that year by “The Malecki Family,” the name of which appears on the “Patrons” page.
  • Interviews with remaining family members reveal that the Malecki family, which lived in Lansdowne (less than a mile from where Cesnik’s body was found), attended the nearby St. Clement Church. The Malecki siblings, including Joyce, also attended week-long “retreats” as high school students—during which they spent entire days engaged in religious instruction with priests.
  • Baltimore Archdiocesan records confirm that alleged abuser-priest A. Joseph Maskell served “at St. Clement (Lansdowne) from 1966 to 1968 and at Our Lady of Victory [located on nearby Wilkens Avenue, about three miles distant] from 1968 to 1970.” The official Archdiocesan record continues: “[Father Maskell] lived and assisted at St. Clement (Lansdowne) while serving at Archbishop Keough High School from 1970 to 1975.”
  • Clement Church is located less than a mile from where Cesnik’s body was found, in a very remote area. Says one former high-ranking Baltimore County Police investigator who preferred not to be identified: “Whoever dumped the nun’s body there had to know the area well. That dump was difficult to get to, if you didn’t know your way around, and the nun did not vanish until after dark.”
Archdiocesan records make clear that Father Maskell was Joyce Malecki’s parish priest during a two-year period shortly before she was killed. Meanwhile, Archdiocesan records and the Keough yearbook show that he was also serving as a chaplain at Keough from the mid-1960s until 1975.
Says Joyce Malecki’s older brother Donald Malecki today: “One thing I can’t understand is why no law-enforcement officials have ever made this connection or asked us about it.”
When asked about the possible connection between the killings, Baltimore-based FBI Special Agent Barry Maddox tells City Paper that the Bureau “didn’t actually do the investigation” into Joyce Malecki’s death, but turned all of its information over to the nearby Anne Arundel County Police Department. But a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Police insists that no investigation of any kind had ever been conducted by his police department and referred the inquiry back to the FBI.
For his part, a totally mystified Bud Roemer said he couldn’t understand why “they haven’t all gotten together and run down these leads. If it was me, I’d sure as hell want to check everything out!”
Donald Malecki says he visited the FBI’s Baltimore office three years ago and was told only that “‘we conduct a periodic review of the case, we we’ll contact you if we find anything new.’” He added: “They kept me in the lobby and sent down two 25-year-old kids who tried to reassure me, but they wouldn’t show me the files or talk to me about the case. Instead, they told me that my best chance of finding the killer was to talk to the producers of Unsolved Mysteries on television and try to get them interested in the case.”
After reviewing the new information uncovered by City Paper, FBI spokesman Maddox concluded : “All of these coincidences certainly rise to the level of possible significance for solving both killings. We haven’t ruled anything out, including Father Maskell, and we have gone back to reinvestigate the Malecki killing and possible links to the Cesnik case.”
And 35 years after Sister Cathy Cesnik’s body was found on the garbage dump at Lansdowne, the Baltimore County Police Department’s Cold Case Squad is once again investigating her murder. During a December 2003 interview with City Paper, two detectives on the squad provided a sketchy account of their latest findings.
The two detectives, who preferred not to be identified, acknowledged, “We don’t know what happened to Sister Cathy.” But they go on to say that, having initially reopened the case as part of a periodic review, they don’t consider Father Maskell to be a suspect, based on “early interviews with witnesses” and “signs of struggle” in her car. They said they were operating on a theory that Cesnik was abducted by “a stranger or maybe by someone who knew her” on the night she disappeared. They said they were exploring a theory that an intruder forced his way into her car, drove her to the dump and killed her, then simply returned the car to her apartment complex because he needed transportation in order to get back home.
They said they didn’t believe Father Maskell was involved because of earlier interviews by other investigators with him in 1994 (after “Jane Doe” came forward), although they gave no specifics about those interviews, and because “Jane Doe got some of the details wrong” when she described her alleged visit to Cesnik’s body at the dump. But they cannot account for the fact that Baltimore County Police officials in 1994 were quoted as saying that “Doe” had described details about the dump that had never been made public before.
They also confirmed that they had called Bud Roemer in October 2003 and discussed the case with him. They describe Roemer as a “fine detective, reliable and trustworthy”: “We’re sure that whatever he told you is straight, to the best of his memory.”
Only a few weeks before his death last June, Roemer said that he still hoped the murder of Sister Cathy would be solved some day.
“If all of these new findings are accurate, it looks to me like we’ve got two murders, four days and a few miles apart. And both of the victims seem to be tied directly to the school and the church,” he said. “I just hope they’ll figure it out. I hope we can get closure on Sister Cathy, before I go to meet my maker.”

Story courtesy of BALTIMORE SUN/City Paper

  1. Jean, I am watching this and I think about you everyday. I wish I could speak to you directly. I don’t agree with a lot of what you think goes on in the documentary. I believe you. I wish I could be your friend at age 14. I could help.I would know you to do, should you ask. I just want you to know, at one point you think people wont agree but I know – I see it in your eyes. We will figure this out. I went to Catholic school but certain reasons I do not believe like my family does. Everything I learned in John Carroll is a lie. How can I help? I haven’t ended the documentary – so I dont know if you need money or a friend or someone to listen – I would be happy to,
  2. Has anyone considered that bobby schmitt who distracted his nephew with shooting while his brothers disposed of her wrapped body in the dump may possibly be ‘brother bob’?
  3. Dear Tom, I know you must be getting a million crazy takes on this mystery. But if I may add my own take, I’d be grateful if you would at least consider it. I think the key to the murder is Sister Russell. If you make one daring and distasteful leap of conjecture, and assume that Sister Russell was having an affair with Father Magnus, then the entire murder makes sense.
    Testimony clearly suggests that Billy and Ronnie Schmidt were in Cathy and Russell’s apartment early in the evening of November 7. Why? Well, if Sister Russell was faced with choosing between protecting her lover and her own reputation, by intimidating Cathy into silence, I think she would have caved in and conspired to protect Magnus. I think Maskell forced her to enter into a conspiracy to silence Sister Cathy, but not kill her. Sister Russell triggered all of the events, and her own testimony points to her as the person who controlled the reported “timing” of the events on the night of November 7, something that should always raise red flags.
    It seems clear to me that Billy Schmidt’s nephew Brian’s interview with Alan Horn is the key to understanding the events of that night. If you accept his version of events, then a look at the timeline would place Billy and Ronnie Schmidt in Cathy and Russell’s apartment at 8:30 pm. Sister Russell had to be there. Keep in mind that a witness said she heard shouting and a fight around 8:30 coming from the direction of the parking lot outside of Cathy and Russell’s apartment. According to Brian, at that time, Billy and Ronnie brought in something large into Russell’s apartment, and then wrapped it in a rug and carried it out to the parking lot. (Also keep in mind that Sister Russell maintained that Cathy left to go shopping at 8:30 pm not 7pm as most people understood.)
    I think Sister Russell may have been ordered to trigger the whole thing in an effort to silence Cathy and keep Russell’s lover, Father Magnus, out of trouble. I also think that Father Maskell wanted somebody to “rid him of this troublesome nun” and eventually Edgar Davidson, Billy Schmidt and Ronnie Schmidt were recruited to intimidate Cathy. I do not think the original intent was to kill her. (After all, they were satisfied with intimidating “Jane Doe” simply by showing her Sister Cathy’s body.) But when they ambushed Cathy after she came back from her shopping errands, Cathy defied them, started to run and Billy and Ronnie Schmidt panicked and hit her on the head with a ball peen hammer and a handheld sledge hammer. Billy and Edgar had to carry her body into Sister Russell’s apartment (thus the bloody clothes) where Cathy’s body was wrapped up in a rug. (Did anybody check to see if either Sister Russell or Billy Schmidt was missing a rug from their apartments?)
    I think at least six people were present when Cathy’s body was dumped the first time. (I think it was later moved.) Billy Schmidt, Ronnie Schmidt, Edgar Davidson, “Skippy”, Bob Schmidt and little Brian Schmidt were there. They came in at least two, possibly three cars. I think Edgar left early, as soon as he could, and made it home by 9:30 pm. I personally don’t place a lot of importance on Edgar driving Cathy’s car with two feet, as the detective says. How many feet did Skippy use?
    Cathy’s car was parked away from her normal parking place, possibly because it was already taken by Father Koob’s car. It was parked across the street, behind a bush where it wouldn’t be immediately noticed. Thus its odd location.
    I haven’t worked out how Edgar Davidson, Billy Schmidt and Rather Maskell all knew each other, but I think sexual perversion answers for a lot of it.
    Maskell, like all good villains, needed henchmen. And Edgar Davidson, Ronnie and Billy Schmidt answered the calling.
    So, this is my take on the murder. I think it holds water, but I’d be curious to see what you have to say. You can reach me at:
    spoles@juno.com. And may I say, I am not a nut.
    Yours truly, Al Spoler
  4. I came from a devout Catholic family. I spent two years in a seminary. While my time in the seminary was relatively short, I learned a great deal about its teachings. Along my life journey, I left the church and its faith.
    Let me share with you something.
    On the one hand, Jesus said ‘If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea’. Matthews 18:6.
    Yet, He let His Chosen shepherds such as father Maskell raped and sexually abused those young and innocent girls under His watching eyes, with ease and got away with it. And with the Baltimore Catholic Church’s protection. Over the ages, hundreds of thousands of young and innocent children were sexually abused while receiving church’s teachings for their own salvation!
    This is in contrast to God’s interventions, when it pleases Him, such as on sister Mary MacKillop’s intercession, He cured some Australian cancer victims. For supposed miracles like these, sister Mary was canonized in Rome in October 2010.
    So it’s clear to me that God would intervene when He wanted to.
    In other words, God must be busy either drinking or having orgies up in heaven that He could not hear the sufferings of those Keogh High School girls or those young and innocent children at a Milwaukee orphanage and around the world in Ireland, Australia and so on. For He did hear what sister Mary asked of Him. Nothing else can explain it. Really.
    What a shallow, womanising and uncaring Being up there. I dare call HIM a fraudster, a con artist and a figment of imagination by people of a primitive time. A time when thunder was believed to be a sign of God’s anger that only the sacrifice of young virgins would calm His sexual frustration!
    ‘Nuff said.
    • I’d like to add something to your post.
      It’s time to remind good-intention and warm-hearted Americans of the following common perceived threats:
      ‘If we don’t invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein, he will use his WMD on us’. George W. Bush’s justification to wage a costly war in Iraq that was estimated to cost some US$3.5 trillion by Economics Nobel Laureate, Joseph Stiglitz, while significantly damaging the US strategic position in the process. On the other side, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died and their country became a new battleground for sectarian fighting. And out of the Iraqi war’s ashes, arose ISIS.
      The above threat probably started from here. ‘If you don’t stop crying, a monster is coming to get you’. A mother’s quick trick but damaging to her crying child’s early childhood mental developments. These children grow up easily becoming blind believers (see next).
      ‘If you don’t worship (our version of) God, you’ll burn in hell for eternity – Now we need your donations to do His works on earth.’ A clergy to congregation members. The sad thing is God did not bother helping tens of thousands of young and innocent children from being sexually abused by His chosen shepherds throughout the ages!
      Simply put, the threat of eternal damnation by a so-called Benevolent Being is so contradictory by itself for it was invented to keep believers firmly inside the dogma for control purposes. It has its root in the four books (by unknown writers other than their given names) that were selected out of a dozens or so of contemporary books at Nicaea council in 325 by Constantine’s order. By referring the four Gospels by Luke, Matthews, John and Mark as words of God, those Bishops at Nicaea council made their agendas beyond challenge and their positions of powerful authority. And the rest is history as the saying goes.
      Now you have heard the biggest hoax in human history: Christianity.
      • …..and you are now a world expert. Perhaps that is all your small mind could absorb with your ,extended, time spent in seminary. Remember, the beautiful apple you ate for lunch came from a barrel of good and ,,not so good,, fruit. Your choice!
        • If you can debate the points Ex-Believer raised, do so.
          Resorting to sarcasm is simply a form of intelligence deficiency as well as ad hominem. A far cry from what your God teaches you: Love you enemy.
          I don’t think he is even your enemy.
          • What you are saying is quite true. Apologies!! Christians appear though, to be constricted to fight with their hands tied behind their back, all too often. I’m somewhat over political correctness…this is half the problem.
    • I know you don’t want to hear this, but I want to say it any way. I am praying for you. God loves you, but Satan hates you. Yes there is God, and there is Satan. God didn’t do this, evil did. This is a fallen, evil, cursed, and corrupt world we live in. But, God is still good and He is still love. I honestly mean no offense when I say this to you, and I sincerely pray that the rage you feel will disappear and you can begin to see goodness again.
    • Read your bible, then you might understand the Creator.. We have freedom to chose, men doing their will not God’s will are the consecuenses of their acts. I was catholic from a very religious family, but until you’re born again, you won’t be able to understand God, his Love and his Grace. Remember you will see Him face to face. Blessings !
  5. I am left scratching my head and wondering how the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik has taken this leap in the comment section here to arguments for and against God and Christianity. Who really thinks that everyone who attends or belongs to a Christian Church is a true Christian by definition and that Christianity should be judged thereby? And why would anyone believe that just because some people do horrible and despicable things to others and seemingly get away with their crimes. that any of this has anything to do with the character of God? People who choose to do evil things will happily use anything to conceal and/or protect themselves. They have no qualms about using the church or any other strong organization that might be available to them. Even so, there are also many sincere people who have done much good in the world in the name of Christ. For those of you who condemn Christianity based on your own experiences and the actions of some, I will tell you that the beautiful, helpful programs are out there and so are many self-sacrificing people who work tirelessly for the good of others. Are they perfect? No. Are you perfect? No. Am I perfect? No. We are not perfect and I believe that every one of us can point to something that we have thought, said or done that we are not proud about so while we can discern the right or wrong actions of others we should be careful about judging the person. I know from first hand experience that victims of abuse are often filled with anger and outrage and sadness. Abuse changes lives. As was mentioned in the above documentary, some of the victims of that priest went on to live their lives quietly and as invisibly as possible.Some turned to alcohol or drugs or both. And they are not the only ones. Other victims of abuse have followed a similar path. But not everyone. Some do turn toward God. We are not promised that we will not have to endure some things in this life time. We are not promised that we will not suffer or that our loved ones will not suffer at times. But God does promise that if we believe in Him and turn to Him, He will be with us and He has already overcome all evil. This is what true Christianity is all about, believing God, believing that Jesus is who He says He is, the Son of God, who came into the world to live and walk in sinless perfection among us and ultimately give His life for us, dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. So that we could, by turning to Him in faith, receive forgiveness and life. I hear people judging Christians harshly,overlooking any good and pointing out every wrong thing that they see. And then jeering at them saying, “You don’t look like a Christian to me.” So it becomes confusing. True Christians have a desire to be pleasing to God and they want to grow spiritually but they can still say and do things that are at odds with their faith at times.because it is a growth process and in this lifetime no one reaches perfection. Then there are those who say they are Christians but they do the sort of extreme things we read about in the documentary above. Can people like that really be Christians? This is a question that only God can answer but Scripture talks about “Wolves in Sheep’s clothing” and a day when some will stand before God and brag about what they did in His name and His answer to them is, “Depart from me. I never knew you.” So it would seem that just because someone tells you that they are a Christian, it doesn’t necessarily make them one, not in the true sense. Then there is this question. What about professing Christians who live sincere lives and impact the world around them in positive ways? Should their lives be discounted because of the example set by the priest (and others like him) in the article above?
  6. As a practicing Catholic, I am amazed how people seem to screw up something so powerful as the church. There was once a great concept of creating relationships and getting to know the good of people, but the dark side of humanity seems to creep in. No one ever know the power of
    God and the reason why things happen. I pray the grace of God’s Holy Spirit will free the victims of this unholy act, that justice will prevail and that end the end, people with strengthen their faith.
  7. Just because the bishops, convened under the emperor Constantine’s order, at Nicaea council in 325CE decided the chosen four Gospels words of God does not make them words of God. Neither those books that asserted Jesus was not a deity but discarded by them less words of God, had the bishops applied a consistent assessment of their historical value. In other words, it was a political expediency exercise. Pure and simple.
    Just think.
    An Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent and Benevolent Being one day decided to play around with His power. He created humans in his image, knowing full well that they would commit sins. So much so that He flooded the earth to kill them all in 40 days, except the Noahs.
    But that was not enough for He had to come down to earth, born in a manger, lived like an itinerant person. And in the end, get crucified and died in agony just in order to atone for their sins. On wonders why He could not just have forgiven them by flicking a finger! Perhaps, like Harry Potter.
    Ah, that was not all. Christianity doctrine reveals that one day in future, he will come down again in glory to judge the living and the dead.
    Given the almighty that He is, He would have known what was going to happen to many of his own creations: Burning in hell for eternity just so that He can feel powerful as the Almighty!
    A neutral observer with a reasonably mind can only conclude that the said BEING is more like a psychopath rather than a Loving Being.
    Sure the story is about poor sister Catherine. But one can’t fail to see a bigger picture of mankind and what they can do to one another under the cover of religions. Not long ago this country had slavery, sanctioned by the Bible and exploited by Christian churches. Mind you, despite a majority of population being Christians, the US has the highest gun homicide rate. It’s more than 25 times the average of other developed countries.
    Does that tell you and me about the relevance of morality, faith and reality?
    • Blessings ! It’s a relationship with Jesus not religion. The Holy Spirit made it possible to let the world know Jesus is God.
      • So why bother with religion in the first place. For it is under the cover of teaching salvation that millions young and innocent children were RAPED, over the ages, by the CHOSEN few God selected to be His shepherds on earth!
        Latest news: More than 500 boys were subjected to physical or sexual abuse at a Catholic choir school in Germany between 1945 and 1992, according to a report released Tuesday. This school was run by the brother of Pope Benedict XVI.
        On the other hand, you spin like a politician. It reminds me of Donald J. Trump, the pu$$ie$-grabber-cum-president.
        • You know right is right and wrong is wrong, but Jesus even picked disciples that were flawed. I do not think Jesus wanted these kind of crimes to happen in his church that he started. There is evil that influences people in every organization but you just cannot throw away this institution. For every scandal that tries to destroy the catholic church some how God ‘s grace seems to hold it together. People are people and you hope that evil people would get their Devine Justice, this is why we must maintain faith. Although this rips your heart out for the victims of these crimes, God knows and he will handle this. Pray for peace, pray for healing and pray that the church will find ways to prevent this from ever happening again.
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  9. After watching the documentary, it seems to me that the person who murdered Sister Cathy could have been Maskell’s brother, who was a policeman or another cop who he recruited who also was involved in raping these young girls. The coroner noted her head had been struck with a hard object (?billy club). Not only was the archdiocese covering up everything about the abuse but it seems the police and the court were also vested in hiding the facts i.e. losing the depositions of the women who came forward in the 90’s, losing the records Maskell had buried in the cemetery, the chief sex crimes prosecutor claiming there was nothing in those records to use against him, the list goes on and on. Too many important people were going to go down if it the truth came out. I admire the courage of Sister Cathy and the women who came forward to try to correct this horrific injustice. I believe justice will prevail in the end.
  10. Of all the people and organisations involved in this blatant miscarriage of justice, the FBI allegedly having fingerprints and forensic evidence, but saying a lack of money and manpower is the reason they won’t process is asinine.
    I hope someone with enough personal or political clout, applies pressure and publicly calls them out on this, until they process the evidence. I realise the perpetrators may be deceased at this time, but it could potentially lead to those responsible being brought to justice, and bring some long overdue closure to the families. I can’t imagine what the abused women have had to endure for decades. Working up the courage to come forward, only to be denied justice by a systematic cover-up by the church, police, and justice system.
    As a parent, having to endure the pain, of my daughter being murdered, with no answers, is something I don’t think I could deal with, and remain stable.
    My hat is off to all those who chose to share their story with the world, in such a raw and unscripted manner. You have immeasurable courage, and I hope this exposure, leads to those responsible being brought to justice, and at the very least, more scrutiny of those involved in the blatant and wilful effort to protect the church.
    • I don’t know where you live, but I trust that wherever it is, you are able to exercise “Free Choice”. Please don’t ask more or less of God! No one worships a dictator…that I know!!
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  18. I am more surprised that so many people are so surprised of the atrocities that this church, For the lack of another word, is capable of. Its entire history is nothing but that. The only good thing that ever gave credence is Sister Cathy and NO, NO, NO! they couldn’t have any of that and so they destroyed the only light that ever shined within this evil establishment.She was fooled so easily but she trusted everyone and loved everything and that’s what made her a target for creeps like these.
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  21. “Cathy would forgive the person who killed her” and “I forgive the person who killed her because I can’t live my life being angry,” said Gerry. To me, that sounds like a confession shrouded in self-reassurance. He actually looked relieved when he said it. I think Gerry killed her because if he couldn’t have her, no-one could. The coming to light of the abuse by Maskell and friends, and the precautionary ignorance as a response to that by the Bisdom, was triggered by her death for obvious reasons, but it was not the reason why she had to die.
  22. There are so many wrongs in all of this. The abuse, the coverup the murder. It is the saddest story I have ever watched. I came away with so much admiration for the survivors and their pain was just raw. But let’s look at several things here:
    The abuse: there is probably still girls out there that could input more into this. Who knows maybe someone has old DNA from their panties that could be processed. Or there could be a child that could have been born because of these manifestations. And someone might come forth about Sister Cathy actually buying the necklace. And what of the necklace itself-is it possible to get DNA off of it? Has it been tried? There are a lot of possibilites that could still happen. I am thankful for the DNA they have gathered but I feel there are other gatherings they should do and keep on file. Like the Schmidts children-has that been done and compared? Things like this need to be recorded.
    The cover-ups: I think this part bothers me more than any of it. They knew back in the 1960’s when the one guys mother went to the diocese so this could have been prevented and Sister Cathy could be alive. I will place some cures to this cover up mess below. It sickens me having grown up Catholic and I went to 11 yrs of Catholic school however it was co-ed. Are we just ignoring the fact that celibacy causes problems in this area and to let loose the wolf in the hen house of an all girl (or boys) school is just asking for trouble? As I do believe one is innocent till proven guilty but to leave them in the hen house is wrong for certain. If there is a suspicion of it there should be somewhere they need to be other than moved to another temptation area until proven innicent. But I also cannot blame God for this happening. There is good and there is evil. These girls cannot be blamed because they truly are innocent. The priests however made a choice that totally ruined these girls lives as well as the Catholic Church. And they also incorporated others into their little scheme and it’s all obvious it is for protection. After all if you do this awful thing also then you can’t tell on us. So this includes the police as well as the Diocese. I feel certain that just the tip of the iceberg is showing here. But it is costing the Catholic Church-almost all the girls have a problem now this the Church and a lot of sympathizers have left the Church also.
    The murder: it is so sad her life was taken when she was trying to do the right thing. And while I honestly believe it appears overlooked in this world I know in my heart that she was cannonised as a saint when she went to heaven. It saddens me her parents didn’t know the answers or all her girls who loved her as well as Gerry. (and I am 100% sure he was innocent-my Goodness you can still see the love pour out of his eyes). It’s obvious to me who might have done it-because it ate them up. I am hoping it continues to eat the others so we can get to the bottom of it. I do not think Sister Russell was involved-she could hardly even speak about it and I feel like that was from FEAR. It ate her up also just like it did Jean’s Mike-with Cancer. When you murder something so pure it comes back to bite you in the butt. Many has been bitten and there could even be more to come. And Edgar-why doesn’t he just come free of what he knows-because of going to jail? He is already in jail. Besides it’s probably going to be cheaper than the nursing home he is headed to soon.
    Some possible solutions:
    1. I think it is possible to solve the Malaki case that might give some really better clues to Sister Cathy’s case obviously because the murder of a Nun had to be covered up to protect the church. So it might be better to focus more on her case. And has DNA been compared from her case to Sister Cathy’s?
    2. A cold case task force (CCTF ) should be sent out. CCTF would consist of one man/women from the police department involved, one forensic pathologists, FBI agent profiler, a private detective and a liaison officer (who is responsible for coordinating multi-agency responses. The need for this kind of role is pretty straightforward. In the event of a serious incident, a lot of different resources and agencies can be made accountable, and that could possibly do away with the he said she said between departments). Once a case becomes “cold” and some time line should be allotted for that then it could go to the Cold case task force. The CCTF would have four copies of all the evidence in their “homes” and these people would not be allowed to be associated with parties of the involved for instance a Catholic man maybe, or a friend of the family, then they would have to appoint another in his place. If a cover up appears to be happening it should be investigated by FBI (provided they are not corrupt too). The liason officer would be responsible for graded reports of the crime scene etc and any improvements that need to be made. If bad reports are made and not corrected then serious government funding could be withheld. The Liasion Officer (LO) would also keep the family informed of things going on in the case.
    OK OK I know it’s a dream team wish but it could work possibly!
    I pray every night of a resolution to Cathy’s murder as well as the Malaki’s. I just hope it comes before everyone dies off or gets too old to remember. The girls deserve to have it all exposed.
  23. What got me the most was Mike’s death. I sobbed like a child. After all the horrible things Jean had to endure the universe gave her real love, a standup guy who showed her happiness was possible and in the end she had to lose him early because of that goddamn Maskell again. I cannot stand knowing that creature got away with everything. Hundreds of people were scarred for life because of his depraved sexual whims. And the fact that the church did everything in their power to protect these monsters! Are you kidding me?! How can an organization that represents morals be so evil? How is your reputation more important than children? Heck did you consider what would happen to your reputation once people found out? I don’t think we’ll ever find out what happened to Cathy but I know in my heart of hearts Maskell was the instigator. I wish there were no men in the world. A bunch of fat happy women and no crime…

The Baltimore Sun

With Netflix's "The Keepers" documentary series on the unsolved killing of Baltimore nun Sister Catherine Cesnik debuting Friday, we chronicle developments in the case, from her disappearance in November 1969 to the present. This timeline will be updated with more archived material in the coming days. 
1942  - Sister Cesnik was born in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pa.
Friday, Nov. 7, 1969 - Sister Cesnik, 26, left her Baltimore apartment for Edmondson Village Shopping Center in the early evening, according to her roommate, Sister Helen Russell Phillips. It was around 7:30 p.m. She lived in the Carriage House apartments in the 100 block of North Bend Road. Sister Cesnik cashed a paycheck for $255 at the First National Bank at 705 Frederick Road in Catonsville. She may have made a purchase at a bakery in Edmondson Village. She was also planning to go to Hecht’s to buy an engagement gift, according to Sister Russell.
Sister Cesnik, an 11th and 12th grade English teacher at Western High School, belonged to the School Sisters of Notre Dame, an order devoted to education. She had previously taught English and coached the drama club at Archbishop Keough High School.
Saturday, Nov. 8, 1969  - Concerned about Sister Cesnik, early in the morning Sister Russell called two friends, Rev. Peter McKeow and Rev. Gerard J. Koob, who drove to Baltimore from Beltsville to comfort her.  After hearing Sister Russell’s story, the three called city police to report Sister Cesnik missing. At 4:40 a.m., Rev. McKeow found Sister Cesnik’s unlocked car, a green 1970 Maverick, in the 4500 block of Carriage Court. (other reports have Sister Russell and Rev. Koob also finding the car with Rev. McKeow). The vehicle was towed to the city’s Southwestern District station. Police had received several calls about the “oddly parked vehicle.”

Nov. 9, 1969 Sun: 'City Police Search For Missing Nun, 26'

Police, aided by six K-9 Corps dogs, searched until dark yesterday for a 26-year-old Catholic nun, missing from her home since Friday night.
The car was processed by the crime lab. In the vehicle, police found a box of buns purchased at Muhly’s Bakery, which was located in the Hecht company store in Edmondson Village, along with leaves and twigs. Branches had been caught in the car’s radio antenna. A twig hooked with yellow thread was found on the turn-signal lever. Police theorized that Sister Cesnik may have left the car and gone into a wooded area. The car was found a mile from sprawling, wooded Leakin Park. Police, aided by K-9 corps dogs  and civilians, searched the Leakin Park and Irvington areas of the city without a trace.The missing nun was described as 5 feet, 5 inches tall, 115 pounds with green eyes, blonde hair and fair complexion. She was wearing an aqua coat, navy blue suit, yellow sweater and black shoes.Sunday, Nov. 9, 1969 – Thirty-five city police officers and 5 dog teams scoured a 14-block area of southwest Baltimore from dawn until dusk. Police knocked on doors, searched alleys and deserted buildings, and sent men and dogs through rain-soaked park areas from Athol Avenue to the Baltimore County line. They were aided by many civilian searchers.
Monday, Nov. 10, 1969 - Police continued to check tips and leads but don’t resume large-scale searches.  Captain John C. Barnhold Jr., head of the city’s homicide squad, said there was “no evidence of foul play” in Sister Cesnik’s disappearance. “We could find no evidence of violence of any kind,” Barnhold said.
Tuesday, Nov. 11 , 1969  - City homicide detectives said they had no reason to believe that the young teaching nun -- who had disappeared four days earlier -- was kidnapped. Police said they were trying to piece together what happened during a two-hour period on Nov. 7, when Sister Cesnik went missing -- at 8:30 p.m., residents saw Sister Cesnik’s car drive into her reserved parking spot; the car was later spotted illegally parked about a block away at about 10:30 p.m.
Joyce Helen Malecki, 20, went missing the evening of Nov. 11. She had left her home in Baltimore to go shopping in Glen Burnie and for a date with a friend stationed at Fort Meade Army base. Police begin searching for Malecki.
Wednesday, Nov. 12, 1969 – Malecki’s abandoned, unlocked car was found parked in a lot of a vacant gas station in an area of Odenton called Boom Town. Her car, with the keys still in the ignition, was found by her brother. Her glasses and groceries she had purchased in Glen Burnie were found in the car.
Thursday, Nov. 13, 1969  - Malecki’s body was found floating in the Little Patuxent River by two deer hunters on the western edge of Soldiers Park, a Fort Meade training area. The FBI and military police immediately closed the site. City police continued to check leads in the disappearance of Sister Cesnik.
Friday, Nov. 14, 1969 - An autopsy of Malecki’s body revealed that the victim was stabbed and choked and her hands were bound behind her with a cord. She had a number of scratches and bruises indicating a struggle. The cause of her death was either choking or drowning -- further test were needed to determine the cause. Malecki was described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall and 112 pounds. She had brown hair and brown eyes. Baltimore homicide detectives reported that Sister Cesnik was still considered a missing person with no new leads.
Saturday, Nov. 16, 1969 - Police investigated whether a pair of black high-heeled shoes found near Malecki’s watery grave belonged to Sister Cesnik, who was said to be wearing black shoes at time of her disappearance. “We have no indication that they are Sister Cesnik’s shoes, but we will check it out,” Capt. Barnold said at the time.
Jan. 2, 1970 – Baltimore’s major newspapers, The Baltimore News American, Baltimore Sun and Evening Sun, are shut down by a strike that would last 74 days. Sister Cesnik's body would be found the next day.
Jan. 3, 1970Sister Cesnik’s partly clad body was found by two hunters, a father and son, in a remote area in Lansdowne in Baltimore County. The body, partially hidden by an embankment and snow covered, was discovered about 100 yards from the 2100 block of Monumental Avenue. Police said it was probable that Sister Cesnik had been carried to the area or forced to walk there. (A car could not have been driven from Monumental Avenue to where the body was found.). An autopsy revealed a skull fracture caused by a blow to Sister Cesnik’s left temple by a blunt instrument. Baltimore County Police take over the homicide investigation, which remains open to this day.
1970 - 1977 - According to a timeline provided by Baltimore County Police, the Sister Cesnik case was extremely active during this period: "Detectives conduct numerous interviews and polygraphs. Physical evidence from the scene is collected and preserved; relatively little physical evidence is found at the crime scene. Because of the poor condition of the body, detectives are unable to determine if Sister Cesnik had been sexually assaulted."
After 1977 – The Sister Cesnik case becomes dormant. According to a timeline provided by Baltimore County Police: "During this period, detectives receive little new information. They receive no calls from witnesses nor from victims alleging sexual abuse from associates of Sister Cesnik’s in the Catholic Church."
1992 - The first allegations of sexual abuse are made against Rev. A. Joseph Maskell, a Catholic priest, by two former female students of Baltimore’s Archbishop Keough High School. Maskell denies the allegations, which are investigated by city police.
Maskell grew up in northeast Baltimore and graduated from Calvert Hall College. He trained for the priesthood at St. Mary’s Seminary in Roland Park. He was ordained in 1965. He was a school chaplain and counselor at Archbishop Keough from 1967 to 1975.  He served at several local parishes: Sacred Heart of Mary from 1965 to 1966; St. Clement (Lansdowne) from 1966 to 1968 and from 1970 to 1975; Our Lady of Victory from 1968 to 1970;  Annunciation from 1980 to 1982; Holy Cross from 1982 to 1992; and St. Augustine’s (Elkridge) from 1993 to 1994. He earned a master’s degree in school psychology from Towson State in 1972. He also earned a certificate of advanced study in counseling from Johns Hopkins University. He served as a chaplain for the Maryland State Police and Baltimore County Police and Maryland National Guard and later the Air National Guard as a Lieutenant colonel.
1992  - Maskell, pastor of Holy Cross Church in South Baltimore, was removed from his position by the Archdiocese of Baltimore following accusations of sexual misconduct.
October 1992 – April 1993  Maskell stayed at the psychiatric hospital, “Institute of Living,” located in Hartford, Conn. He “returned to Baltimore after an evaluation found no psychological or sexual abnormalities,” according to a 1994 Sun article.
August 1993 - Maskell was named pastor of St. Augustine’s in Elkridge after an investigation by the archdiocese did not corroborate sexual abuse allegations, according to the church.
Spring 1994  - A former Archbishop Keough student tells Baltimore County police that Maskell sexually abused her and took her to see Sister Cesnik’s body weeks before it was discovered on Jan. 3, 1970. The student also told police that another man she met in the priest’s office told her he had beaten Sister Cesnik to death because the nun knew of the alleged sexual molestation. Police note inconsistencies in the student’s account.
The student said the priest and the other man – whom she did not identify – warned her that she would suffer the same fate if she told her story to anyone else. Police were unable to verify or disprove the woman’s allegations. But in interviews with police and The Sun, she provided details about the body that were known only to investigators at the time.
July 31, 1994  - Maskell left his parish at St. Augistine’s in Howard County to seek therapy in the face of mounting allegations of sexual abuse. A least a dozen women alleged that Maskell abused them while they were students and he was a counselor at Archbishop Keough during the late 1960s and 1970s.  His departure came after Archdiocese of Baltimore officials interviewed two more Keough students, who said Maskell sexually abused them.
Aug. 10, 1994 - City investigators excavated a pit in Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn Park, seeking records buried there in 1990 on Maskell’s orders while he was pastor at Holy Cross Church.
Aug. 24, 1994 – Two former students of Archbishop Keough filed a $40 million dollar lawsuit against Maskell and a retired gynecologist, Dr. Christian Richter, 79, accusing them of sexual abuse at the school.
In 1996, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that the lawsuit could not go forward. The women had argued they should be allowed to sue even though the statute of limitations expired, because they had only recently recovered memories. The court rejected the women’s argument.
Nov. 4, 1994 - A $6,000 dollar reward is offered by the Archdiocese of Baltimore and Metro Crime stoppers for information leading to the conviction of the killer of Sister Cesnik.
December 1994 - Maskell, who left his Elkridge parish in July 1994, officially resigned from the St. Augustine's post.
1994 - According to police, Maskell is not considered a prime suspect in the Cesnik case at this time, but he is interviewed "at length."
1994 – 2000s - DNA profiles of about a half-dozen suspects are developed and compared to the known crime scene sample, with negative results, according to Baltimore County Police.
February 1995  - Cardinal William H. Keeler’s permanent revocation of Maskell’s priestly duties is made public.
April 1995 - Baltimore County Police return the unsolved case of the slaying of Sister Cesnik to the “cold case” file.
May 7, 2001 – A. Joseph Maskell died at St. Joseph’s Hospital. He was 62 years old.
May 2016 – The Archdiocese of Baltimore posted a list of dozens of priests and religious brothers accused of sexual abuse. The list, posted on the archdiocese website, includes the names of 71 clergymen about whom church officials have received what they call "credible" accusations during the priest's lifetime. All of the names, including Maskell’s, had previously been disclosed by the church.
November 2016 - The Archdiocese of Baltimore acknowledges it paid a series of settlements to people who alleged they were sexually abused by Maskell. Since 2011, the archdiocese has paid a total of $472,000 in settlements to 16 people who accused Maskell of sexual abuse. But he was never criminally charged.
2016 - Baltimore County Police reassigned the Sister Cesnik case due to the retirement of detectives. According to a timeline provided by police: “Activity on the case intensifies as victims of sexual abuse discuss information about Sister Cesnik’s circle, including Maskell. Numerous interviews are conducted. One living suspect is reinterviewed.”
Feb 28, 2017 – Baltimore County Police exhumed Maskell’s body to compare his DNA with crime scene evidence from the Sister Cesnik case.  Maskell's body was exhumed Feb. 28 at Holy Family Cemetery in Randallstown and returned to the grave the same day, county police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said.
May 2017 – Baltimore County Police received an allegation from a woman who said she was abused by a now-deceased county officer associated with Maskell and the Cesnik case, Armacost said. But the woman wanted to remain anonymous, Armacost said, and declined to be interviewed by police.
May 4, 2017 - County police said they were also exploring possible connections between Cesnik's death and those of three others whose bodies were found in other jurisdictions: 20-year-old Joyce Helen Malecki, who disappeared days after the nun did and whose body was found at Fort Meade; 16-year-old Pamela Lynn Conyers, whose body was found in Anne Arundel County in 1970; and 16-year-old Grace Elizabeth "Gay" Montanye, whose body was found in 1971 in South Baltimore.
May 17, 2017 – Baltimore County Police announce that Maskell’s DNA does not match evidence from Sister Cesnik’s crime scene. Police said they received results from a forensics lab in Virginia  that excluded Maskell as a contributor to the DNA from the scene. Armacost said the results don't necessarily clear Maskell as a suspect. They mean current forensic technology doesn't provide a physical link between him and the crime scene, she said.
May 19, 2017 – Netflix is scheduled to release “The Keepers,” a documentary series on the unsolved killing of Sister Cesnik. (Trailer video)
Compiled by Sun researcher Paul McCardell

Went missing: Nov 7, 1969
Body found: Jan 3, 1970
Where: near a garbage dump in the Baltimore suburb of Lansdowne
Cause: intracerebral hemorrhage caused by skull fracture

Tom Nugent, journalist 1994
Gemma Hoskins, former student of Cathy's
Abbie Schaub Fitzgerald, former student of Cathy's
Deb Silcox, former student of Cathy's
Juliana Farrell, former student of Cathy's
Bob Erlandson, journalist
Mary Spence, Keough student
Gerry Koop, former priest
Pete McKeon, former priest
Capt John Barnold, Baltimore City Police chief of homocide investagation in 1970
James Scannell, former Capt of Baltimore County police, first officer on scene when Cathy's body found
Bud Roemer, M (Murder/Homocide) Squad Capt for Baltimore County police, in charge of all criminal investagations
Don Malecki, Joyce's brother

Justice for Catherine Cesnik and Joyce Malecki

Season 1 Episode 1
"We're told the story is not the nun's killing.
The story is the coverup of the nun's story."
Abbie Schaub

"Sister Catherine and Sister Russell, they were roommates. They taught together at Keough and they were the two nuns who left the order, became public school teachers."
Bob Erlandson


"As far as we know, she (Cathy) left the apartment parking lot (Carrage House Apartments, 131-139 N Bend Rd, Baltimore, MD 21229) somewhere around 7:00 pm. Sister Russell, her roommate, said this was a routine that they did. She was going to go shopping to pick up some bakery buns, she was going to buy an engagement gift for her sister. She went from her apartment to the Edmondson Village Shopping Center."
Abbie Schaub

"Sister Cathy went to the local bank, cashed her paycheck, bought some dinner rolls. Now accounts vary here - several witnesses have told the newspaper and the police, there's no doubt that nun returns to her parking space but no one has proved that she ever came back to her apartment. Instead she vanished."
Ted Nugent

"We have a witness, an airline stewardess had gone grocery shopping and was going up and down from her car, carrying bags of groceries in and out. On the third trip, about 8:30 pm, she remembers seeing Cathy sitting in her car in the parking lot, as if she were waiting for something."
Abbie Schaub

"... early November... Friday night... we heard this yealling and I would say it came from that direction, that's where Sister Cathy and Sister Russell lived (a block or so away). It was a man's voice, loud, booming, garbled with emotion, anger. We really thought it was some kind of violence that was going on up there."
Mary Spence

"Around midnight, she (Sister Russell) became concerned enough that she called Gerry Koob... Cathy and Gerry apparently developed a friendship. That troubles us a bit, looking back, why didn't sister Russell call the police?"
Abbe Schaub


"... I knew then Brother Peter, Pete McKeon and I had decided there's a movie playing in Baltimore tonight that we both want to see. It was Easy Rider. I would venture it must have been about 10:30 pm or so by the time I got back (Beltsville is 40-45 min from Baltimore and Cathy's apt). And we were sitting and talking about it and the phone rings and it's Sister Russell Phillips: "Have you seen Cathy?" She tells us, "Cathy went out around 8 or 8:30 pm. She was going to get an engagment present for her sister and she's not home yet." So we got in the car and drove up to Catonsville (They were in Beltsvile which is 40-45 min from Cathy's apt which is about 7 mi from Catonsville) immediately."
Gerry Koob


"We spent maybe 45 min to 1 hr listening to Russell and since it was now 3 hrs after what she expected, it's time for us to call the police. So a single policeman responded to our call. He came to this apartment. We were describing her as a missing person. He wrote everything down. He left. The three of us gathered around a little table and I said mass. We put a little bread and wine and I did the mass of consecration. And we saved some of the communion bread for Cathy. We were still hoping
against hope that she would show up. After another hour or two (4:00 am?), Peter and I left and went down those steps to take a walk. We were coming up this way and when we get about here (across the street from apartment), we spot the car. This door was unlocked. We went in and the famous twig was sticking, hanging down from that."
Gerry Koob

"There are leaves, twigs, muddy tires. This car had been into a swampy area. Kinda questionable. The car had been into swampy, muddy ground. And why is that car found with its rear end sticking out in the street, right adjacent to the Carrage House apartments where the num lived? Whoever put that car there, wanted it to be found."
Ted Nugent

"Sister Cathy and Joyce (Malecki) went missing in the same area in west Baltimore, in the same week so we've been working with the Malecki family to try and get information about Joyce and make connection between the two murders and the people that we think were responsible."
Gemma Hoskins

"City police search for missing nun. Twenty-six officers combing area with canine corp dogs. It's a hugh public event in 1969. We've got a terrible nun disappear - it's all over the front page. And 5 days later, oh my God, what's happened to Malecki? Are they connected? And the FBI commissioner, the head guy in Baltimore anyway, tells the press, "Rest assured. Your Federal FBI is hard at work. We will find out if there's a connection between Malecki and Sister Cathy. You start asking, who ran that investigation? And that's Capt John Barnold. He's the chief of homicide Baltimore
City cops."
Ted Nugent

"From day one, Barnold is essentially telling everybody, well we don't think it's a kidnapping, we don't see problem, we're ok, we're going to be fine. What's going on here? Where is she? We can't find her. We don't know. Nobody knows."
Ted Nugent

"From Nov 7 till mid January, I had no idea what happened to Cathy."
Gerry Koob

Q. Mid January? Her body was found Jan 3.

"I can remember, I was leaning against a wall when somebody was telling me they found the body. And I remember sliding my back down the wall to sit on the floor. And mostly the feeling was relief. You know, now the waiting to find out what happened is over."
Gerry Koob

Q. Relief?

"... she hadn't deteriorated. No maggots or anything like that."
James Scannell

NOTE: The autopsy report says there were maggots.

Ted Nugent reading news article, "... Roaming the autopsu, (Bud) Roemer soon found himself contemplating a likely scenero. A stranger probably abducted Cesnik from the Edmondson Village Shopping Center on Edmondson Ave near her apartment. In all likelyhood, the unknown assailant then killed the nun and dumped her body about 5 miles away. But his hypothsis was contradicted by one troubling fact. The nun's car, a green 1964 Ford Maverick had been parked in an odd angle illegally near her Carriage House apartment complex only a few hours after she drove off to the shopping center. How had the dead woman's Ford gotten back to the apartment complex? In that situation, the killer wants to get the h___ away from there. Last thing he wants is to return to area where he might be spotted driving the victim's car."
Ted Nugent

"The cops always told us there was no forenisic evidence in that car. But the fact of where the car was parked combined with the fact of where her body was found some months later, is a detail that's always been stuck in my throat because where her body was found is not an area where you would casually drive by it and say oh here's a good place to dump a body. But this was a very out of the way area, which led me to believe it was somebody who knew that area very well."
Bob Erlandson

"I've been pursuing this for the last 15 years. I've been calling FBI and time in and time out, and I get the same answer. I visited them, I went and knocked on their door, what have you done in the last 15-20 years? And the only thing they tell me is, it's an open case and we cannot discuss it. It almost leads me personally to believe, it's a coverup because I can't get any information."
Don Malecki

"A retired detective that I interviewed frequently, who worked on it, often says to me, Nugent, the real problem here is the coverup itself. The coverup itself is the cancer inside Baltimore."
Ted Nugent

--- END---

Jean Hargadon - Jane Doe, former student of Cathy's
Ed Hargadon - Jean's brother
Mike Hargadon - Jean's brother
Don Hargadon - Jean's brother
Bob Hargadon - Jean's brother
Lil Hughes Knipp - Keough class '71
Teresa Lancaster - Jane Roe, Keough class '72
Kathy Hobeck - Keough class '70
Donna Vondenbosch - Keough class '74
Edward Neil Magnus (1937-1988) - abusive priest at Keough
Anthony Joseph Maskell (1939-2001) - abusive priest, chaplain & counselor at Keough
Brian Schwaab, former detective Baltimore City Police
Lyn Smith, former nun
Cecelia Wambach, former nun
Brother Bob, abusive priest
Tommy Maskell, Baltimore city policeman & brother of Joseph

Season 1 Episode 2
"I believe that Cathy Cesnik was murdered by someone she knew. I believe that it wasn't a stranger who killed Cathy Cesnik. It may have been a stranger to her who moved her body or a stranger to her who cleaned up after, but, I don't believe it was a stranger who killed Cathy Cesnik. Cathy Cesnik was killed because she was going to talk about what went on at that school and I believe that there were more than one person who was really afraid that she was going to out them. And they used her death to keep me quiet."
Jean Hargadon

"We were soulmates. I was her best friend and she was mine. We first got aquainted in the summer of '66. We were corresponding in letters by July of that summer. And I would say we discovered a real geniune love of each other at that time. There were very few people who knew what our relationship was. There was no going out somewhere to dinner or anything like that, we couldn't do it. She was facing a crossroads in her life because she was coming up on the expiration of her temporary vows. The nuns took vows for x number of years. But then they reach the point of shifting of taking temporary vows to final vows. And she was facing that. I was still a year away from being ordained. We're sitting next to each other outside at Keough. It was a warm day and we're sitting side by side. And I said to her, I feel like I'm about to jump off a cliff but I'm going to do it anyway. You're facing a decision of going to take final vows. A year from now I will face the decision to become a priest and I want to say no to both and ask you to be my wife. And she turned me down. She said, no you're meant to be a priest, I'm meant to be a nun, so we'll go on."
Gerry Koob

"Cathy's delimea, we are not in touch of where these girls are coming from. We don't know what it's like to be living in the world. We're protected behind this convent thing which limits our understanding of what a teenage girl is going through. She had gotten permission from her local superiors to try living outside
the convent in an apartment in Catonsville with Sister Russell. This is what she looked like when she left Keough to go teach in a public school while remaining a nun."
Gerry Koob

"Cathy Cesnik and Russell Phillips were trying this experiment. I understood that Mother Mauruce (Kelly) gave permission to experiement with teaching in public high school and being nuns out in the regular world. I was surrised that they were the ones engaging in this. They were complient nuns, following the rules all the time."
Cecelia Wambach

"Two days before Cathy disappeared, a friend and I went to her apartment casually for a visit and we talked shortly because my friend didn't know what was going on. Sister Cathy asked me how things were and I knew what she meant. I was hesitant to answer. And she says, It will be taken care of, don't worry.
Kathy Hobeck

"We know there was a third woman who was in Sister Cathy's apartment the night before Cathy disappeared. She and her boyfriend arrived to visit the two sisters, Cathy and Russell, and she was sharing with Cathy about the abuse. And Joseph Maskell and Neil Magnus came into the apratment without knocking. I asked specifically what expressions were on their faces and she said Maskell was furious, Magnus looked dumb."
Gemma Hoskins

"So Cathy sent her out and her boyfriend out of the apartment. The next day when she went to school, he called her into his office and said, If you say anything I'll kill both of you and your families. She never said anything."
Deb Silcox

"Later that day is when Cathy disappeared. This woman who has chosen to remain anonymous has lived with fear all her life."
Gemma Hoskins

"Cathy and I were supposed to get together the day after she was actually killed."
Gerry Koob


"She said there was something very serious she wanted to talk to me about. I though she might want to reopen the question whether or not we want to leave and get married. But I look back now and if at that time she was aware of priests sexually abusing the girls at Archbishop Keough, then maybe that's what she wanted to talk about. Would have been a h___ of a conversation. But it never happened."
Gerry Koob

"I was called to the room and it was after school. And he (Maskell) was frantic. I know you're really close with Sister Cathy and I wanted to let you know she's missing but I know where she is. And I was, What do you mean? You know where she is? He says, Yeah I know where she is. Do you want me to take you to her? And I was like, Yes! We leave his room. I remember walking through the corridor of the school and we go out and get in a car. There are two unbelievable emotions going on at the same time. One was total shock, What do you mean she's missing? It hit me like in the stomach. And the other was, he knew where she was, relief. I just knew I needed to see her. We pull up into this barren area. There was grass and dirt and I'm thinking, What is she doing here? And I'm following him and he moved over. And there was a ? on the ground and I knew it was her. Before I knew it, I was kneeling down next to her and there were maggots in her face and I was wiping her facing saying, Please help me, please help me, please help me, please help me. And I'm looking at my hands and he came down real close and he said, Do you see what happens when you say bad things about people?
Jean Hargadon

--- END ---

September Term, 1995
No. 102
JANE DOE, et al.

--- END ---


'Keepers' priest Maskell spent time in Ireland, now under scrutiny

Public health officials in Ireland say they are reviewing the work history of A. Joseph Maskell, a Catholic priest profiled in the Netflix series “The Keepers.”
Alison KnezevichAlison KnezevichContact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Public health officials in Ireland say they are reviewing the work history of the Catholic priest profiled in the Netflix series "The Keepers," who was employed as a psychologist in that country after leaving Baltimore amid sexual abuse allegations.

The priest, A. Joseph Maskell, worked in Wexford for about seven months in 1995 as a temporary clinical psychologist for an Irish public health board, according to the national health agency there. He later worked in private practice in Ireland between 1995 and 1998, church officials in Ireland say.

He died in 2001 at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson.

The Health Service Executive, the agency that runs public health services in Ireland, said in a statement that it has begun a process to "review services delivered and regarding any concerns" about Maskell's employment with the public South Eastern Health Board.

The review comes in the wake of publicity from the seven-part Netflix documentary "The Keepers." The series examines sexual abuse at Archbishop Keough High School and the unsolved 1969 homicide of 26-year-old Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik, who taught there.
Police: Exhumed priest's DNA does not match evidence from crime scene killing of Sister Cathy

Maskell, who served as chaplain and counselor at Keough, left the United States as allegations against him mounted in the 1990s. The Archdiocese has paid $472,000 in settlements to 16 people who alleged abuse by Maskell. He was never criminally charged, and denied abuse accusations before his death.

In a statement, the Health Service agency said Maskell worked for the South Eastern Health Board between April and November 1995. The agency said that as part of the hiring process, Irish police checked whether he had any prior convictions. He did not.

Asked whether Maskell assessed any children or teens while working for the health board, a spokesman for the agency said it could not provide any additional information pending the outcome of the review.

Baltimore church officials have said they barred Maskell from public ministry in 1994 and that he went to Ireland without their knowledge. They said they learned in 1996 he was living in Wexford.

Maskell was born in Baltimore, but his family was from Ireland, said Baltimore archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine.

Teresa Lancaster, who was featured in "The Keepers" as an abuse survivor, said Maskell spoke about Ireland when he was working at Archbishop Keough.

"When he took me to the rectory, he would put on Irish music and tell me how wonderful it was," Lancaster said.

Baltimore attorney Joanne Suder, who has represented people with abuse claims against Maskell in recent years, said she has received numerous phone calls about him since "The Keepers" was released. She said three people with knowledge of his time in Ireland have told her that Maskell presented himself as both a psychologist and a priest and that "he had access to young girls."

"That's frightening," she said.

Maskell also celebrated Mass in Ireland even though he had been prohibited from public ministry in the United States, Irish church authorities told The Baltimore Sun.
Pictures: The Catherine Cesnik case

Catherine Cesnik, a 26-year-old nun, disappeared after leaving her Southwest Baltimore apartment to go shopping in November 1969. Two months later, her body was found in a frozen field in Baltimore County. Catherine Cesnik case: Archived Sun coverage

> Licensing inquiries: Email tim.thomas@baltsun.com

The Rev. John Carroll, a spokesman for the Diocese of Ferns, said in a statement that Maskell first had contact with diocesan officials there in 1995 when they discovered he celebrated Mass as a substitute for a priest who was ill.

After being contacted by the Ferns diocese, Maskell replied in a letter in April 1995.

"I wish only to offer Mass privately and carry out my spiritual activities in a like manner," Maskell wrote, according to Carroll.

The diocese sent a follow-up letter to Maskell asking for confirmation of his status as a priest, but received no response, Carroll said.

In June 1996, the Diocese of Ferns contacted the Archdiocese of Baltimore to clarify Maskell's status as a priest.

"Baltimore explained to Ferns that serious allegations had surfaced regarding Fr. Maskell prior to his departure from that diocese in 1994," Carroll said in the statement. "Baltimore stated that it had been unaware of Fr. Maskell's current whereabouts. Baltimore immediately contacted Fr. Maskell and restated its prohibition on his ministering in public."

The Ferns diocese also contacted the health board in Ireland and "aired its anxieties" about Maskell's work as a psychologist, Carroll said.

The health board said that by the time it received correspondence from the diocese, Maskell was no longer working for the health board. But the file shows Maskell was working as a psychologist in private practice, according to Carroll.

Maskell worked privately in Wexford and Castlebridge from 1995 to 1998, Carroll said, and on occasion presented himself as a priest.

The Ferns diocese's file on Maskell, which has not been released publicly, covers a period from April 19, 1995, to Sept. 22, 1998, Carroll said. It is not clear from the file when Maskell arrived in Wexford and when he departed, he said.

Carroll said the Ferns diocese has not received any allegations of abuse by Maskell.

In the United States, there have been calls for the Archdiocese of Baltimore to release its files on Maskell, but church officials say they will not do so. An online petition posted on the website change.org has garnered more than 6,400 signatures.

The petition says releasing the files would "restore public trust in the Archdiocese, and confirm the Archdiocese statements regarding their handling of the sexual abuse claims."

Caine, the spokesman for the archdiocese, said state law and archdiocesan policy would prevent the church from releasing the documents because they contain confidential information such as the names of sexual abuse victims, personnel and health records, and attorney-client communications.

The Catholic Church in Ireland has grappled with its own clergy abuse. A series of reports commissioned by the Irish government detailed cases of abuse involving children, and found that police and church leaders covered it up.

In an "Ask Me Anything" forum on the social networking site Reddit, "The Keepers" director Ryan White was asked last month if he would consider doing a second season of the documentary investigating Maskell's time in Ireland. White said there are currently no plans for that, but he has been following press accounts in Ireland.

"I'm very afraid of what they're finding out — we know he was masking as a family psychologist and operating still as a priest — so it's chilling to think he still had access to children," White said in the Reddit exchange.

In the Reddit forum, White also called upon the Baltimore archdiocese to release its files on Maskell, saying it could redact personal information contained in the files.



--- END ---


Did Some Nuns, Teachers Know Of Child Sex Abuse In Baltimore Catholic Schools?
By Denise Koch
March 5, 2018 at 11:30 pm
Filed Under:Archbishop Keough High School, Child Sex Abuse, Father Joseph Maskell, John Merzbacher

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — For some time now, WJZ has been investigating a dirty secret: child sex abuse at the hands of priests, police and a teacher back in the 1960s and 1970s. Many asked how it was possible that no one noticed.

Multiple sources have told WJZ’s Denise Koch that many people, including some nuns in positions of authority, did know about the abuse but instead of reporting it, they looked the other way.

It’s a dark chapter for Baltimore’s Catholic schools. Father Joseph Maskell, a counselor at Archbishop Keough High School, is accused of molesting dozens of students.

“I had a gun held to my head on several occasions. I was threatened with ‘I’ll kill your father, I’ll kill your grandparents, I’ll kill your dog, I’ll kill you,” Linda Tiburzi said.

She tells WJZ in the ’70s, John Merzbacher sexually abused her while she was a student at Catholic Community Middle School. Tiburzi was not alone. The Catholic school teacher, armed with a gun, blatantly assaulted other girls and boys.

It would take more than 20 years for him to be sent to prison where he’s now serving four life terms for child rape.

[Reporter: You believe that people knew?]

“I know people knew. I witnessed it with my own eyes. I was in eight grade, Merzbacher kept me after school…he locked the door, he tripped me to the floor, he straddled me, he unbuttoned my shirt blouse,” Tiburzi explains. “I was petrified, and then I heard the clicking of the door being unlocked. In walked Sister Eileen Weisman, and stood over the both of us. Her comment to him was, ‘Oh, John, I told you never to lock the door.’ And she looked at me and said, ‘You are never to stay after school again.'”

[Reporter: And she was a nun?]

“Well, I thought this woman was going to save me when she came in the door and she did absolutely nothing,” she said.

Sister Weisman was the principal of the school.

“Every teacher in that school knew what was going on at that school, as well as Sister Eileen. There was no doubt,” said Gary Homberg.

WJZ tracked down Homberg, a former teacher at the school. This is the first time he has ever spoken to the media.

“I went to Sister Eileen and sat down and told her what I had seen, what I had heard, what I had witnessed with my own two eyes,” he explains. “It was as gross and vile, as ugly as anything you can imagine.”

Homberg says he was given an ultimatum: shut up or leave. He left.

WJZ also obtained court records that state Sister Weisman repeatedly witnessed abuse, but did nothing to stop it. Decades later, following Merzbacher’s conviction, the Archdiocese publicly stated that Sister Weisman should never again hold a position overseeing the safety of children.

WJZ asked to speak with her, but instead received this statement, in part, from Sister Charmaine Krohe, SSND, provincial leader of the School Sisters of Notre Dame Atlantic-Midwest Province:

“We have found no evidence to suggest that our religious community or any of our Sisters had knowledge of Mr. Merzbacher’s conduct at the time the abuse occurred.”

“They would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to be aware what was going on. There is no doubt in my mind. They knew, and they looked the other way,” Homberg said.

Our investigation reveals Sister Weisman was not the only nun in a position of authority who was reportedly told about the sex abuse taking place in Catholic schools. Donna Von Den Bosch, a student at Archbishop Keough, told a high-ranking nun that a priest was sexually abusing her.

“I stopped in her office and said, ‘He’s evil, please don’t make me go.’ And she just smiled and said “Go down there.’ And so that’s like another day of agony I had to face,” Von Den Bosch said.

“All our lives were tragically shattered, shaken. Our souls were ripped away from us, but we turned into the warriors that we are today because what went on is certainly not right,” Tiburzi said.

WJZ has learned that Sister Weisman — who was assigned to Rome for several years during the Merzbacher trial — is now back in Baltimore living in a convent on a school campus.

The following is the full statement from Sister Krohe:

The entire School Sisters of Notre Dame community is deeply saddened by the reprehensible abuse that occurred at the hands of John Merzbacher.

We have found no evidence to suggest that our religious community or any of our Sisters had knowledge of Mr. Merzbacher’s conduct at the time the abuse occurred.

One of the central missions of our congregation is primarily education. The prevention of child abuse, as well as pastoral outreach to those affected, are cornerstones of all of our actions and policies. .

The School Sisters of Notre Dame work continuously, in all of our ministries, to protect children in every aspect of their lives. We continue to pray daily for the healing and comfort of all survivors of childhood abuse and their families.

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Huffington Post news article Dec 6, 2017

Buried In Baltimore: The Mysterious Murder Of A Nun Who Knew Too Much

Archbishop Keough High School in 1969. (Photo: Archbishop Keough High School yearbook)
On a frigid day in November 1969, Father Joseph Maskell, the chaplain of Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore, called a student into his office and suggested they go for a drive. When the final bell rang at 2:40 p.m., Jean Hargadon Wehner, a 16-year-old junior at the all-girls Catholic school, followed the priest to the parking lot and climbed into the passenger seat of his light blue Buick Roadmaster.
It was not unusual for Maskell to give students rides home or take them to doctor’s appointments during the school day. The burly, charismatic priest, then 30 years old, had been the chief spiritual and psychological counselor at Keough for two years and was well-known in the community. Annual tuition at Keough was just $200, which attracted working-class families in deeply Catholic southwest Baltimore who couldn’t afford to send their daughters to fancier private schools. Many Keough parents had attended Maskell’s Sunday masses. He’d baptized their babies, and they trusted him implicitly.
This time, though, Maskell didn’t bring Wehner home. He navigated his car past the Catholic hospital and industrial buildings that surrounded Keough’s campus and drove toward the outskirts of the city. Eventually, he stopped at a garbage dump, far from any homes or businesses. Maskell stepped out of the car, and the blonde, freckled teenager followed him across a vast expanse of dirt toward a dark green dumpster.
It was then that she saw the body crumpled on the ground.
The week prior, Sister Cathy Cesnik, a popular young nun who taught English and drama at Keough, had vanished while on a Friday-night shopping trip. Students, parents and the local media buzzed about the 26-year-old’s disappearance. People from all over Baltimore County helped the police comb local parks and wooded areas for any sign of her.
Wehner immediately recognized the lifeless body as her teacher. “I knew it was her,” she recalled recently. “She wasn’t that far gone that you couldn’t tell it was her.”

“You see what happens when you say bad things about people?”

Cesnik was still clad in her aqua-colored coat, and maggots were crawling on her face. Wehner tried to brush them off with her bare hands. “Help me get these off of her!” she cried, turning to Maskell in a panic. Instead, she says, the priest leaned down behind her and whispered in her ear: “You see what happens when you say bad things about people?”
Maskell, Wehner understood, was threatening her. She decided not to tell anyone. “He terrified me to the point that I would never open my mouth,” she recalled.
Jean Wehner
Jean Wehner in 1970. (Photo: Jean Wehner)
Two months later, the police announced that a pair of hunters passing through a dump outside of Baltimore had stumbled upon the body of the missing nun. Cesnik had choke marks on her neck and a round hole about the size of a quarter in the back of her skull. An autopsy confirmed she had been killed by a blow from a blunt object, probably a brick or a ball-peen hammer. But no one came forward with information about the murder, and the police never solved it.
Over the past year, however, Wehner and other Keough alumnae have begun piecing together their memories and talking openly for the first time in decades about the traumatizing things that happened to them in high school ­— events they believe are connected to Cesnik’s murder. And a group of them has launched their own investigation in hopes of answering the questions that continue to vex the police: Who killed Sister Cathy — and why?
Gemma Hoskins set a bowl of Doritos and a plate of sugar cookies on her dark wooden coffee table and passed out typed copies of the January meeting agenda. One by one, her guests took their places around the oriental rug in her pale-yellow living room. “I’ll start by introducing everyone, because we have a few new faces here,” Hoskins said.
Tom Nugent, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, secured a prime spot in the wooden rocking chair in the corner. A retired Baltimore police detective the group calls “Deep Throat” settled into an armchair next to him. Teresa Lancaster, a Keough alum and Baltimore-area attorney, sat next to her husband, Randy, on the oatmeal-colored sofa. Hoskins and another former Keough student, Abbie Schaub, pulled up chairs from the dining room to form a circle.
Hoskins, 62, is spirited and irreverent, with cropped, dyed red hair and a tendency to carry around snacks for people — a habit that’s lingered since her days as a Harford County “Teacher of the Year.” Today, she lives with her labradoodle, Teddy, in a duplex in Halethorpe, Maryland, a working-class suburb of Baltimore. Hoskins was a senior at Keough in 1969 when Cesnik disappeared. Now, she is at the center of the effort to find out who killed her. “I think I’m Nancy Drew,” she joked recently.

Gemma Hoskins (right), is a retired elementary school teacher who attended Keough from 1966-1970. She leads the amateur detective group investigating Cesnik’s murder. Abbie Schaub (left) is a retired registered nurse who attended Keough from 1966-1970. She is working with Hoskins to investigate the murder. (Photos: Abbie Schaub and Gemma Hoskins)
Cesnik was like a real-life version of Maria, Julie Andrews’ character from “The Sound of Music,” Hoskins recalled: warm, exuberant and strikingly beautiful. The nun played guitar and wrote musicals for the girls to perform on stage. She took her students to see the 1968 movie version of “Romeo and Juliet” after they read the Shakespeare play. She invented creative vocabulary games to push the girls to teach each other new, obscure words.
Cesnik lived in a modest apartment in Southwest Baltimore with another nun, and her students would occasionally drop by in the evenings or on weekends to chat, sing and play music. “She was the reason I became a teacher,” Hoskins said. “I’ve never met anyone like her.”
Around 7:30 p.m. on November 7, 1969, Cesnik told her roommate, Helen Russell Phillips, that she was going to swing by the bank and then shop for an engagement gift for her cousin. According to media reports from the time, she cashed a $255 paycheck at a bank in Catonsville, Maryland, then drove to the Edmondson Village Shopping Center, where she bought buns at Muhly’s Bakery. When she hadn’t returned home by 11 p.m., Phillips called two priest friends, who drove to her apartment and called the police. Later that night, Cesnik’s brand-new green Ford Maverick was found unlocked and illegally parked a block from her apartment, even though she had a designated parking spot behind the building. There was no sign of the nun anywhere.
Baltimore Sun article
Area newspapers followed the case closely.
The man assigned to investigate Cesnik’s disappearance was Nick Giangrasso, a 28-year-old homicide detective who had worked in the Baltimore City Police Department for five years. Giangrasso led the investigation for the three months Cesnik was missing, then had to turn the case over to Baltimore County detectives when her body was found outside the city limits. But Giangrasso, now 72, spent enough time on the case to feel like something suspicious was going on between the police department and the church.
“The Catholic Church had a lot of input into the police department,” he said. “A lot of power.”

“It looked too clean. It had to be somebody who knew her.”

Giangrasso has a deep voice and a Baltimore accent, and speaks about the Cesnik case as if it happened yesterday. He said it was clear to him from the fact that her car had been deposited back at her apartment complex without any signs of struggle that she had not been the victim of a random robbery or assault. “It looked too clean,” he said. “It had to be somebody who knew her.”
The first person of interest in Giangrasso’s investigation was Gerard Koob, a Jesuit priest. Koob was one of the priests Cesnik’s roommate had called when she realized the nun had not returned from her shopping trip, and he had been the one to call police to report Cesnik missing.
Koob, now a 77-year-old Methodist minister living in New Jersey with his wife, was in a romantic relationship with Cesnik at the time. Two years earlier, before he was ordained and before she had taken her final vows, he had asked her to marry him. She turned him down, but they continued to spend time together and write each other love letters. And three days before Cesnik disappeared, Koob called her from a Catholic retreat to tell her he still loved her. He was prepared to leave the priesthood for her and hoped she’d leave the nunhood for him. “I said, ‘If you decide to leave, we’ll leave and get married,” Koob told The Huffington Post in an interview.
The police brought Koob in for questioning, but he had an alibi for the night that Cesnik disappeared. He and a fellow priest had gone to dinner in downtown Baltimore and watched “Easy Rider” at a movie theater afterward. He produced receipts and ticket stubs and passed two lie detector tests.
Harry Bannon, another retired Baltimore City homicide investigator, told the Baltimore City Paper in 2004 that he thought Koob knew more about the murder than he was admitting, but that the church forced him to back off the priest. “The church lawyers stepped in and they talked to the higher-ups at the police department. And we were told, ‘Either charge Koob with a crime or let him go. Stop harassing him,’” said Bannon, who died in 2009. “After that, we had to break away from him. And that was a shame, because I’m sure Koob knew more than he was telling.”
Koob says he had no information that could have been helpful to police. “When the police were asking me, ‘Who do you think did this to Cathy?’ I had no clue,” he said.
Still, Giangrasso, who retired from the police force in 1980, had a gut feeling that Cesnik had been murdered by someone with ties to the church. “I personally thought it was in-house, within her social network — the priests and the religious order,” he said.
Giangrasso interviewed half a dozen priests who knew Cesnik as his investigation continued, and there was one in particular whose name kept coming up: Father Maskell, who worked with Cesnik at Keough. Giangrasso said he tried to interview Maskell a number of times about Cesnik’s disappearance, but the priest always managed to elude him. “He was always busy and never available,” Giangrasso said. “It got to the point that Maskell was the number one guy we wanted to talk to, but we never got a chance.”
In Baltimore in 1969, Giangrasso said, it was very difficult, if not impossible, to investigate a Catholic priest for any crime. The Archdiocese of Baltimore is the oldest in the United States, and the church considers it to be the premier Catholic jurisdiction in the country. More than half the city’s residents identify as Catholic. According to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Baltimore City prosecutors have charged only three of the 37 Baltimore priests who have been accused of sexual abuse since 1980. Just two of those priests were convicted, and one of those convictions was overturned in 2005.
Maskell in particular was a difficult target. At the time, he served as the chaplain for the Baltimore County police, the Maryland State Police and the Maryland National Guard. Maskell kept a police scanner and loaded handgun in his car, drank beer with the officers at a local dive bar, and often went on “ride-alongs” with his police friends at night to respond to petty crimes or catch teenagers making out in their cars.
Bob Fisher, the owner of an automotive repair shop in southwest Baltimore where Maskell took his car on his days off, remembers the priest boasting about his police privileges to anyone who would listen. “He’d say, ‘I’d hear something on the scanner, and we’d jump in the car and take off, and we’d catch these people!’” said Fisher, 74. “Really wild stories.”
Maskell’s older brother, Tommy, was a hero cop who had been shot and injured while trying to stop a robbery. Going after Maskell would mean violating the unwritten rules by which the police operated. “We’re a police family,” Giangrasso said. “The policeman’s involved, his family’s involved, we try to help the guy out. When we found out Maskell’s brother was a lieutenant, we knew we had a problem.”
Giangrasso remembers feeling pressure from his superiors to leave the priest and other members of the clergy alone. “I felt like the church was coming in and interfering, and the chain of command was coming down and checking on us — ‘How much longer are you gonna be playing with this case?’— as if to say, you gotta back off and move on,” he said. The Baltimore City police did not respond to a request for comment.
That Cesnik’s body was found outside of his jurisdiction, in Baltimore County, where Maskell was chaplain, was no coincidence, Giangrasso thought. Nevertheless, he had to turn the case over to Baltimore County police. The county police never charged anyone.

(Map: The Baltimore Sun)
The case remained cold for two decades. Then, in 1994, two women came forward with bombshell accusations against Maskell that tied him to the young nun’s murder. Identified in court documents at the time only as “Jane Doe” and “Jane Roe,” the women accused Maskell of raping them when they were students at Keough. The women filed a civil lawsuit against Maskell, the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, who ran Keough, and a Baltimore gynecologist named Dr. Christian Richter, seeking $40 million in damages.
The women were too afraid of Maskell and his old police friends to use their real names back then. But Maskell died in 2001, and Jane Doe and Jane Roe are finally ready to speak out publicly.
Their names are Jean Wehner and Teresa Lancaster. Wehner, who claimed Maskell had taken her to see Cesnik’s body before it was discovered by hunters, provided details about the body that were known only to investigators at the time, according to a 1994 Baltimore Sun report. Investigators were initially skeptical of her claim that Cesnik had maggots on her face, because maggots are usually not present in cold November temperatures. But an autopsy showed there were in fact maggots in Cesnik’s throat — a detail that had not been made public.
Today, Wehner is a 61-year-old board certified reflexologist from a large, deeply Catholic Baltimore family, and Lancaster a 60-year-old general practice attorney on Maryland’s eastern shore. Wehner said that for decades, she had buried most of her memories of what went on at Keough. She started to remember the sexual abuse in bits and pieces, beginning in 1992 when she saw side-by-side pictures of Maskell and the school’s director of religious services, Father Neil Magnus, in her high school yearbook. “My whole body shook,” Wehner said. “I knew.” The pictures stirred up dark and painful memories, she said, and the details slowly started to come back to her.

Maskell and Magnus in the 1969 Keough yearbook. (Photo: Laura Bassett/The Huffington Post)
Although Lancaster had always remembered most of the abuse that occurred at Keough, she, too, had managed to repress some of the details until her mother died in 1993. She says she avoided thinking and talking about the abuse while her Catholic mother was alive, because she knew the information would devastate her. But around the time of her mother’s death, Lancaster started thinking about all of the horrific things she had experienced in high school. “She sat up in bed one night, screaming,” her husband, Randy, recalled in a recent interview.
Survivors sometimes misremember details of traumatizing events. But Lancaster and Wehner’s accounts are corroborated by court records and interviews with eight other Keough students — four who claim they were abused by Maskell, and another four who say they were able to fend off his advances. And Sean Caine, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, said the church now acknowledges that Maskell was “credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.”
Keough was a traditional Catholic school, where students were required to wear knee-length plaid skirts and shirts buttoned all the way up to their necks. But it was hardly immune to the 1960s counterculture. Former Keough students said that in Maskell’s office and in the nearby rectory, where he lived, the priest offered the girls a relaxed, open-minded environment where they could talk freely about sex and drugs, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes on his red velour sofa and ask for help dealing with their traditional Catholic parents. At the peak of the sexual revolution, Maskell was well positioned to exploit the experimental and rebellious atmosphere of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In a confusing time, he offered an intoxicating cocktail of spiritual guidance, hypnosis, booze, pills and himself.
Maskell was a charismatic young man in his late 20s when he started at Keough as chaplain in 1967, two years after it opened. Broad-shouldered, with light blue eyes, the Irish-descended priest also served as the school’s psychological counselor. He later earned an advanced degree in psychology from the prestigious Johns Hopkins University.
Former Keough students said Maskell used his charm, psychology training and moral authority to first disarm the young girls, then to manipulate them into sexual relationships. He targeted struggling or badly behaved students — Hoskins and Schaub, who got straight As, said he never bothered them — asking the girls if they were having problems at home, or if they had been sexually active with their boyfriends or used drugs. Sometimes the priest used repetitive phrases — “I only want what’s best for you, just what’s best for you,” one woman recalled him saying — to coax them into talking.

He told her he was touching her in a “godly manner.”

Lancaster, a soft-spoken mother of four with wispy blonde hair, said that when she was a junior in 1970, she went to Maskell’s office to talk to him about some problems at home. Her parents had found a marijuana joint in her bag, she said, and they didn’t approve of the long-haired boy she was dating. It was the middle of the school day, and Maskell invited her into his office and shut the door behind her. He then proceeded to strip her clothes off and forced her to sit on his lap, naked. He told her he was touching her in a “godly manner.”
“He said, ‘I’m not supposed to do this, but I find that I can really help people when I have physical contact,’” Lancaster recalled. “I was in total shock.”
Often, the girls didn’t realize they were being raped and assaulted until months or years later. Indeed, Lancaster believed for a short time that she was in a romantic relationship with the priest. Sometimes he would play Irish music while he was with her, “almost like it was a sick date,” Lancaster said. “There was about a month or so when I actually thought he loved me. ... If there’s some kind of love there, then there’s sense to all this. When I found out other people were going in there, I wondered if he loved all of them, too.”
When she started to realize the true nature of the relationship, Lancaster never fought back or told anyone, she said, because Maskell threatened to have her expelled for drugs and sent to the Montrose School for Girls, a dreaded juvenile facility in Reisterstown, Maryland. Once or twice, she said, he smacked her around and showed her the loaded handgun he kept in his desk at school. “He let me know that I either went along with whatever he wanted to do, or it was gonna be worse than I could ever imagine,” Lancaster said.
When Maskell spotted a girl who seemed troubled or was engaged in bad behavior, he would start calling her out of class over the loudspeaker for “therapy” in his office.
“I would be in class, and it could be any time. I’d hear my name over the loudspeaker, ‘Report to my office now,’ and I would have to report to Maskell,” said Donna VonDenBosch, 58. “I remember being in class, just crying, ‘Don’t make me go, don’t make me go!’ And the teacher pulled me out in the hall and said, ‘We all know he’s a weirdo, but you have to go.’”
Wehner said she went to see Magnus, the school’s religious services director, for confession when she was 14 years old, because she had been feeling guilty about sexual abuse she experienced as a young child. The priest turned to her in the confessional, quizzed her on the details of the abuse, and began masturbating as she talked, she said.
After that, Maskell and Magnus would call her into their offices for joint counseling sessions, which they said was for the purpose of helping her find God’s forgiveness for what she did as a child. She says they would masturbate in front of her, take nude photos of her and force her to perform sex acts as part of her “spiritual healing” process. “I thought they were literally praying for me,” she said.
Soon, Maskell began calling Wehner out of class and into his office without Magnus, she said. He would show her pornography, tell her that he was trying to help God forgive her for the abuse she suffered as a child, and rape her. “He kept saying it didn’t seem like I was open to the Holy Spirit and God’s grace,” Wehner said. “I was just doing what I was being told, thinking I must be such a horrible person that God can’t forgive me.”
Teresa Lancaster
Teresa Lancaster, a Baltimore-area lawyer, attended Keough from 1968-1972. She claims she was abused by Maskell and others. (Photo: Teresa Lancaster)
The women recall that Maskell had a gynecologist friend, Dr. Richter, who would examine them to make sure they weren’t pregnant. Lancaster claims Maskell took her to see Richter for a pregnancy test and then raped her on the table while Richter performed a breast exam.
Fisher, the auto repair shop owner, said Maskell boasted about taking high school girls to the gynecologist when he dropped his car off at the shop in the afternoons. “He would say, ‘Me and the doctor, we take them back and we give them exams and check them,’” said Fisher. “There’s no question he was always involved with the exams — that he made clear.”
Richter, who died in 2006, denied having abused the girls in an interview with the Baltimore Sun during the court battle over the 1994 lawsuit, but he admitted that he may have let Maskell into the room during their pelvic exams. “It’s possible he may have been in the examining room, in the absence of parents, I don’t know, to calm the girl,” Richter said. “It’s very possible he might have come in the examining room. She was 16. She probably had a good deal of faith in him.”
Maskell’s trips to the gynecologist reflected a fixation with the practice. Lancaster said he liked to perform pelvic exams on the altar of the school chapel and administer vaginal douches, enemas and anal suppositories in the bathroom of his office and in the rectory. Multiple other girls also said they were on the receiving end of the mock gynecological exams and enemas. It was a way to establish further authority over the girls — the creation of a doctor-patient relationship — while acting out whatever fetish inspired the abuse.
The women rarely fought back, because they were terrified of Maskell. VonDenBosch said she gathered the courage to struggle once, during her senior year, and it did not go well. “I thought, he isn’t gonna kill me and have blood all over his floor and have to explain that. So I took my pocketbook and started hitting him,” she said.
VonDenBosch threatened to report Maskell, and he responded by putting the barrel of his gun in her mouth. “He said, ‘You’re a troublemaker. You’re trash. Nobody would ever believe you.’ He said, ‘Look at my degree. I went to school at Johns Hopkins.’”
She decided it wasn’t worth the risk to report Maskell to authorities, and she became suicidal in high school. But her classmates suspected what was going on. “There was a group of girls known as Maskell’s girls,” she said. “That’s what my friends would call me, one of Maskell’s girls.”
Donna VonDenBosch
Donna VonDenBosch, a nurse practitioner student in Reading, Pennsylvania, attended Keough from 1970-1973. She claims Maskell and policemen abused her. (Photo: Donna VonDenBosch)
Several of the women who spoke to The Huffington Post about Maskell’s abuse described the priest setting up what amounted to a full-on brothel.
Wehner said that during her senior year, Maskell began driving her to St. Clement Church, where he preached, after school, and that a string of men abused her in his office there. She does not know who the men were, but they referred to each other by generic names — Brother Ed, Brother Ted and Brother Bob. She said some of the men gave Maskell money in exchange for the abuse. “He was prostituting us,” Wehner said.
To keep Wehner quiet, Maskell reinforced the idea that she was participating in the sex acts of her own accord. He referred to the abuse as Wehner’s “extracurricular activities” and the men as her “dates.” She says the priest once pressed his unloaded handgun into her temple, pulled the trigger, and warned her that her father, a policeman, would do the same thing but with bullets in the gun if he found out she had been “whoring around” with older men.
Lancaster, Wehner and VonDenBosch all recall uniformed police officers participating in the abuse, both in Maskell’s office and outside of school. Two more former Keough students and a third woman who attended St. Clement Church said in interviews with The Huffington Post that Maskell abused them as teenagers, often with other men. “I remember the back door light coming through and a policeman wearing dark pants, a white shirt and a badge coming in the back door,” said VonDenBosch, who is studying to be a nurse practitioner in Reading, Pennsylvania. She said she felt unusually groggy that day. She woke up in Maskell’s office in the afternoon after having been there for hours, and her shirt was buttoned up differently than she had buttoned it that morning.

“‘You look at who the whore is in the room. Don’t ever act like you’re afraid.’”

She also said Maskell once handed her what she assumes was a spiked drink at an outdoor Catholic Youth Organization picnic when she was 14, led her away from the other freshmen students at dusk and stood by as a black-haired, uniformed policeman raped her in a remote area of the park. “I felt drugged,” she said.
Wehner said Maskell would stand by the door and act like he was protecting her from being caught. One time, Wehner says, he became angry at her for acting scared in front of the men; she was supposed to act like she was having consensual sex with them. “He pushed my face into a mirror and he said, ‘You look at who the whore is in the room. Don’t ever act like you’re afraid,’” she recalled.
The only person who tried to help the girls was Sister Cathy Cesnik. Wehner said that in 1969, at the end of her sophomore year, Cesnik stole a moment alone with her in her classroom. “Are the priests hurting you?” the nun asked gently. Wehner nodded her head, too afraid to open her mouth. Cesnik told Wehner to go home and enjoy the summer. She said she would handle the situation.
Kathy Hobeck, 63, said she asked Cesnik to protect her from Maskell’s abuse when she attended Keough in 1968. “She would make excuses for me when he would ask me to come down [to his office],” Hobeck said. “She’d say, ‘She’s in a study, she can’t get away,’ or she’d make up a story.”
In the fall of 1969, Cesnik left Keough and took a new job at Western High School, a public school in Baltimore. But she still maintained close ties to her former students, who visited her apartment regularly. Maskell remained a frequent topic of conversation for some of them. Two days before Cesnik disappeared, Hobeck and a classmate visited Cesnik at home, and the nun asked whether Maskell was still bothering them. “We told her no, and that was the end of it,” Hobeck said.
Not all the girls were so lucky. Wehner said that despite Cesnik’s promise to intervene with Maskell on her behalf, the priest continued to abuse her after she returned from summer break, even more violently than before. And another former Keough student, who spoke to The Huffington Post on the condition of anonymity, visited Cesnik at her apartment the night before she disappeared to discuss the abuse going on at the school.
In the middle of their conversation, this woman said, Maskell and Magnus barged into Cesnik’s apartment without knocking. “Maskell glared at me,” she said. “He knew why I was there.” The woman said she left Cesnik’s apartment at that point. The following day at school, Maskell called her into his office. With a gun in his hand, he warned her that if she ever told anyone about the abuse, he would kill her, her boyfriend and her entire family. “That I remember as though it happened yesterday,” she said, “because I have been protecting my family ever since.” Cesnik vanished that night.

A memorial page for Cesnik in the 1970 Keough yearbook. (Photo: Laura Bassett/The Huffington Post)
In June of 1992, more than two decades after Cesnik’s murder, Wehner reported her abuse allegations against Maskell to the Baltimore Archdiocese. Caine, the director of communications for the Archdiocese, told The Huffington Post that the church temporarily removed Maskell from ministry for psychological evaluation in October 1992, five months after Wehner reported him. Maskell had left his job at Keough in 1975 and was working as the pastor of Holy Cross Church, about four miles from the high school, at the time.
Maskell “was referred for evaluation and treatment over the next several months,” Caine said. “During that time, the Archdiocese attempted to corroborate the allegation, which Maskell denied, by seeking out any additional victims on its own and through the attorney representing the individuals who initially came forward. After months of trying unsuccessfully to corroborate the allegation, the Archdiocese returned Maskell to ministry.”
A spokesperson for the school, now called Seton Keough High School, declined to comment, but noted that no one who currently works at the school was there when the alleged abuse occurred.
Although the church claims it could not find any other victims to corroborate Wehner’s claims, her attorneys had no problem doing so. They circulated a letter to Keough alums in 1993 and placed an ad in the Baltimore Sun asking if anyone remembered abuse happening at the school in the 1960s and 70s. More than 30 women, including Lancaster, came forward with first- and second-hand stories of sexual abuse, according to media reports. Lancaster’s story was so compelling that Wehner’s attorneys invited her to be a co-plaintiff in the civil lawsuit against Maskell, Dr. Richter, the church and the order of nuns that ran Keough.
Maskell and Richter both vehemently denied the abuse, and in 1995, after a high-profile trial, the case was thrown out of court on a technicality. According to Maryland law, victims of sex abuse have three years from the time the abuse ends or from when they discover it to file a civil lawsuit. The women’s attorneys had argued that because Wehner and Lancaster had only recently started remembering some of the abuse, they were still within the three-year period. “Memory impairment often follows trauma, and I’ve had many such cases,” said Dr. Neil Blumberg, Lancaster’s psychiatrist.
But the church brought in a “false memory” expert, Catholic psychiatrist Paul McHugh, who successfully argued in courtrooms throughout the 1990s that memories of child sexual abuse cannot be repressed and then recovered. At the time, there was a major backlash against the concept of repressed memory. The 1980s saw several high-profile prosecutions of daycare workers based on recovered memories that later proved false. Though Lancaster and Wehner’s case was different, since they had not been coaxed into recovering false memories by investigators or therapists, winning the case in the new climate proved impossible.
Judge Hilary Caplan told The Huffington Post that he found the women credible, but he decided after hearing McHugh’s testimony that recovered memories could not restart the statute of limitations. “The experts testified, and I found that the memory was not sufficient to justify the plaintiffs’ case,” he said in a recent interview.
The women didn’t win in court, but their testimonies prompted police to begin investigating Maskell for rape and murder. The search for evidence came up empty until a Baltimore gravedigger named William Storey called police with a tip.
Storey, the groundskeeper at Holy Cross Cemetery, said Maskell had ordered him to dig a 12-by-12-foot hole in the graveyard in 1991 so the priest could bury a truckload of confidential files in it. The gravedigger produced a hand-drawn map indicating the location of the documents.
In August of 1994, the police exhumed the boxes, which were mostly filled with psychological evaluations of the Keough students Maskell had counseled. Deep Throat said at least one of the boxes also contained nude pictures of underage girls, which would have been enough evidence to arrest Maskell for possession of child pornography.
“We found hard evidence — these girls had their tops open,” he said. “I saw them with my own damn eyes.”
But those pictures never made it to the evidence room. The detective said they inexplicably vanished after the graveyard dig, and the Baltimore Sun reported only that Maskell’s buried boxes contained “psychological test evaluations and canceled checks.” Judge Caplan, who presided over Wehner and Lancaster’s civil trial, says the photos were never submitted as evidence and that he had never heard of them.

Maskell proved just as slippery and well-connected as he had in 1969.

As police continued the search for evidence, Maskell proved just as slippery and well-connected as he had in 1969. Deep Throat said that as soon as he started looking into the Cesnik case, he received a phone call from one of his superiors in the police department.
“He said, ‘Listen kid, this is a career buster. We knew who the hell killed her back when it happened, and you’ll find out, and you’re gonna find out things you shouldn’t find out. Let it go,’” the detective recalled.
Before police had a chance to question Maskell in 1994, he checked himself into a residential treatment facility, claiming he needed help coping with the stress and anxiety the case had caused him. Weeks later, he quietly checked himself out and fled to Ireland, where he continued to work as a priest. “The Archdiocese did not learn that Maskell was living in Ireland until a Bishop in Ireland contacted the Archdiocese in July 1996,” Caine told HuffPost. “Maskell had left the residential treatment facility two years earlier and refused to inform the Archdiocese where he was living.”
Law enforcement dropped the investigation once Maskell fled the country, and he died without ever being charged with a crime. Magnus had died years earlier, in 1988. Richter died in 2006.
Wehner said she was “devastated” that her case was tossed out and that no one was ever brought to justice. She said she feels betrayed by the church, the school, the police and the justice system. “We had no chance, because of all these institutions that let us down, that were used against us instead of for us,” she said.
Gemma Hoskins’ hunt for answers about Cesnik’s murder began in the summer of 2013, when she re-connected with Nugent, the former Baltimore Sun reporter who had interviewed her about Cesnik years earlier. Both of them had been fascinated by the case since 1994, when Wehner and Lancaster filed their lawsuit against Maskell and the church.
Nugent, now a 71-year-old freelance writer in Hastings, Michigan, was raised Catholic in Baltimore and had covered political corruption there as a reporter, and he suspected that the Cesnik story had more tentacles than anyone realized. He interviewed a few retired detectives, including Deep Throat, who confirmed they had been pressured to back off the Catholic priests during their investigations. “It seemed apparent to me that some of this was covered up,” he said.
Nugent interviewed Hoskins in 2004 for a story about the Cesnik case, but he was never fully able to crack it. Nearly a decade later, she called him out of the blue. “Do you remember me?” Hoskins asked Nugent. “When are you coming back here to finish this?”
Hoskins wanted to see justice for Cesnik and her Keough classmates in her lifetime, and she now had time to devote to the investigation. She had recently retired from teaching, her husband had died of cancer when they were both 35, and she never had any children. She said her late husband always encouraged her to spend time helping others, even when he was on food stamps because he was too sick to work. “He always said, ‘When we get older and don’t have to worry about money, we need to take care of other people,’” Hoskins said. “It’s important to me to honor that.”
Nugent didn’t need much prodding. “Gemma pricked my conscience,” he said. “I personally don’t want to live in a world where this kind of thing is swept under the rug.”
Hoskins started by seeking out more women who might have been victims of sexual abuse at Keough. In September 2013, she logged onto the official Facebook page for Keough alumnae and asked whether anyone knew of such abuse taking place at the school in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“I personally don’t want to live in a world where this kind of thing is swept under the rug.”

The page started buzzing. Women who had been silent for years came forward with stories of abuse by Maskell and others. When Hoskins mentioned Cesnik’s murder, she said “all hell broke loose.” Some Keough alums accused her of launching a “witch hunt,” and school administrators kicked her off the Facebook page for posting “inappropriate” content.
But Hoskins had attracted the attention of a few like-minded women, including Schaub, who had long suspected that the sexual abuse at Keough was somehow connected to Cesnik’s murder. The women created their own, private Facebook group where the discussion could continue, and those online conversations eventually evolved into a full-on murder investigation that hundreds of people are following. “We’re not driving this,” Schaub said. “It seems to have a life of its own.”
Schaub, a retired registered nurse, is measured and articulate, and the most data-driven member of the group. Schaub was in Hoskins’ class at Keough and tutored her in math, but the two weren’t close as teenagers. Today, however, they make a good team. While Hoskins uses her personality and people skills to connect with survivors of Maskell’s abuse, Schaub digs through decades-old newspaper articles, criminal records, marriage and death certificates and property deeds.
“Abbie and I are perfect examples of left brain and right brain,” Hoskins said. “It’s almost like two halves that fit really well together. I’m thrilled that we’ve reconnected.”
In the two years that the Keough women have been investigating Cesnik’s murder, they have chased at least a dozen leads. They looked into possible connections between Cesnik’s murder and the murder of other young girls in the area around the same time, requesting all files from the Baltimore police and the Federal Bureau of Investigations related to those cases. They tracked down the descendants of Storey, the gravedigger, and contacted all the teachers and administrators they could find who worked at Keough in the late 1960s, hoping that someone might come forward with a smoking gun or eyewitness account. They dug up property records for the dilapidated rectory where Maskell once lived and interviewed the neighbors, hoping the house still contained some incriminating evidence.
The women have even zeroed in on a living suspect they believe — but can’t yet prove — participated in Cesnik’s murder. They interviewed several of the man’s family members, obtained all of his old police records, and discovered that the police considered him a person of interest in the Cesnik case in the 1990s. But they are still searching for a piece of evidence that might prove he was involved.
As the women seek justice, the police are still investigating. In September 2014, Wehner returned to Baltimore County police headquarters to tell cops her story for the first time since the 1990s. Four months later, Dave Jacoby, the detective currently assigned to the case, drove to New Jersey to question Cesnik’s Jesuit love interest, Gerard Koob, about the murder. Koob said he had no new information for the detective and was confused by the visit.
“At the end of our conversation, I said, ‘Where are you guys with this? You’re going back now, we’re talking, 40 years,” Koob recalled. “He said, ‘At the moment, we haven’t ruled out the possibility it was some stranger that came by and picked on her.’”
Jacoby declined a request for comment from The Huffington Post, citing the “open and active” nature of the investigation.
The Keough women are skeptical that the police will be able to deliver justice for Cesnik, but they are starting to make peace with that, because their mission has evolved into something bigger. What began as a quest for justice has grown into a source of support and healing for sexual abuse survivors. Through the women’s Facebook page, a growing number of Keough alums are reconnecting with each other and speaking openly for the first time in decades about the abuse they suffered in high school.
Schaub said that when the group’s investigation into Cesnik’s murder ends, the community they’ve created for survivors will remain active. “This isn’t really our story to tell,” Schaub said. “It’s bigger than we are.”
Lancaster has become a child sexual abuse activist. She works directly with victims through the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests, the national advocacy group commonly known as SNAP, and she testified before the Maryland State Legislature recently in support of a bill that would extend the statute of limitations on civil sex abuse cases.
In 2010, the church apologized and paid her $40,000 as part of a group of settlements it made with sexual abuse victims. “Please accept my apology on behalf of Archbishop [Edwin] O’Brien and the Archdiocese of Baltimore for the suffering that has resulted from your experiences,” Alison D’Alessandro, director of the church’s Office of Child and Youth Protection, wrote to Lancaster in a letter. The Archdiocese also offered her the chance to have O’Brien apologize to her in person for the abuse. She declined. “I said, ‘I am so through with you people and your skirts and strange men in their outfits,’” she recalled. “‘It will be a cold day in hell when I will sit and look at that man.’”
Wehner said the other women’s support has changed her life. She said she’s lived in fear since first coming forward anonymously in the 1990s, and has a hard time getting close to people. Now that the Keough alums are rallying around her, though, she is emerging from her shell. “I now have this communal sense of, ‘We believe you. We trust you,’” she said. “I didn’t have that 40 years ago or 20-something years ago. Every step of the way is a tremendous struggle, but I get healthier and healthier.”
Hoskins and her team plan to continue their search for evidence, but Wehner believes they have already honored Cesnik’s wishes by bringing a group of traumatized Keough girls together to heal. “I know the agenda for them is to find out who killed Cathy Cesnik,” she said. “My objective is that the truth be told for all the innocent victims. If Cathy Cesnik were standing here, she would say that’s what she would prefer.”
If you have new information about the events detailed in this story, please email LBassett@huffingtonpost.com or submit an anonymous tip to the Keough women here.
Resources for rape survivors:
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
National Sexual Assault Hotline 1.800.656.HOPE (4673)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255

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Just found an interesting comment posted this week on a news article from Nov 2917 by Tom Nugent. I gave the link to the Justice FB page: https://www.facebook.com/JusticeForCathyCesnik/

Article Link: https://thecrimereport.org/2017/11/08/cracking-the-stonewall-on-a-nuns-murder-a-reporters-story/

Here is the comment and below is the article:
Mary Wagner on said:
"My name is Mary Christina Thompson-Wagner, I have been informed by a gentlemen that my brother who has pasted away was involved in with him in getting young girls from the various Catholic school in Baltimore. The gentlemen name is Ed Davidson, who work direct the Father Maskell, I need to know if my brother Robert Lee Thompson was really involved. If he was I am so very sorry, I am and will not make any excuses for the things he may or may not have done."

Cracking the Stonewall on a Nun’s Murder: A Reporter’s Story

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newspaper headline
Photo courtesy of Netflix.
It was the kind of moment that an investigative reporter never forgets.
Harsh accusations were told to WJZ by many of [Father] Maskell’s victims. We have spoken with two of these women, and now a third is coming forward with a real bombshell. She told WJZ she was abused not only by Father Maskell, but also by police officers. . . .
It happened last February 27, when Baltimore’s CBS outlet, WJZ-TV, reported that local police were investigating credible reports of cops raping teenagers at a Catholic high school for girls in the city, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
cold case
Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik. Photo courtesy Baltimore County Police
But the shocking TV news report also marked a huge turning point in this investigative reporter’s 22-year effort to uncover the truth about the murder of a teaching nun, Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik, who had reportedly tried to blow the whistle on widespread sexual abuse of students at her high school in southwest Baltimore.
The February 27 news story was an unexpected development, for sure.
For the first time ever, a major television station in Baltimore was talking openly—live and on the air—about the possibility that the nun’s murder had been covered up by police officials for more than four decades because an open investigation might reveal that “several” local policemen had been engaged in the sexual abuse, along with several law-breaking Roman Catholic priests.
Until then, the story of the 22-year struggle to uncover and report the abuse—along with an alleged Church and police cover-up—had been a depressing chronicle of stonewalling, frustration and official indifference.
But then came the remarkable evening last winter when the dam finally broke and the allegations of police misconduct suddenly flooded onto airwaves and front pages all across the Baltimore-Washington region.
The reporting struggle had not been an easy one. Again and again, as a series of mostly local reporters dug at frightening allegations of rape by priests and cops, they were stymied by Baltimore-area “cold case” investigators and special agents at the FBI—all of whom repeatedly refused to discuss details about the unsolved killing of the nun or the abuse that had reportedly triggered it.
Father A. Joseph Maskell (left) was defrocked by the Archdiocese of Baltimore (AOB) after numerous allegations of sexual abuse, and after the AOB confirmed that “guns were found” at his last church rectory in Maryland. His friend Father Neil Magnus (now deceased) was also accused of rape by students at a Catholic girls’ high school in Baltimore, where he served as Director of Religious Studies. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

This reporter, for example, was told several times over the years by cold-case investigators at the Baltimore County Police Department and the FBI that the nun had undoubtedly been killed by a “random assailant” who abducted her during a Nov. 7, 1969, shopping trip, then raped and murdered her.
When I then uncovered significant evidence linking the murder of the nun to the school abuse, both the police and the FBI refused to examine it. Instead, they made clear that they had no interest in studying any scenarios other than the “random assailant” scenario they had long ago decided was the correct explanation that lay behind the nun’s murder.
James Scannell
Baltimore Police Captain James L. Scannell (now deceased) was a close friend of Father Maskell and often drove the priest on “ride-alongs” in his squad car. Some female high school students said they were sexually assaulted by priests and cops during such ride-alongs. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

It took more than a decade of reporting and writing stories about the nun’s murder before the shocking new information about sexual abuse by priests and police, and possible links connecting it to the killing, finally began to gain momentum.
Indeed, Baltimore-area law enforcement officials now say they believe that six different unsolved killings may in fact be connected to the abuse.
Tom Nugent
Tom Nugent
The struggle to tell the story of the nun’s murder and the ensuing alleged cover-up began in 1994, in Baltimore, when I and several others interviewed the first abuse victim. In the years that followed, I continued to interview both abuse victims (more than a dozen have by now received “apologies” and more than $500,000 in “settlement” compensation from Church officials) and those law enforcement officials who were willing to talk with me.
I spent hundreds of hours burning shoe leather in Baltimore, while interviewing dozens of former students at the Catholic high school—along with several police detectives and FBI agents who had worked on earlier investigations of the nun’s killing. I slowly developed several high-ranking sources in Baltimore law enforcement.
As I gained their trust over more than a decade of scrupulously careful reporting, they began to provide more and more revealing details about the abuse, the murder, and an alleged police cover-up of both.
I also went to Pittsburgh and interviewed family members and friends of the murdered nun, in order to tell that side of the story in specific, compelling detail.

Again and again, I tried to interest newspapers (including my former employer, the Baltimore Sun, and the nearby Washington Post) in letting me cover the story for them. For several years, they refused to run the copy I sent them, while insisting that the facts I’d uncovered weren’t sufficient to back up allegations of police involvement in sexual abuse—along with alleged police and church cover-ups of murder.
But then I got a break.
In early 2005, I finally managed to persuade the City Paper, an independent newspaper in Baltimore to run a massive, 5,000-word story about the nun’s killing and the ensuing investigations.
That story drew some important help from some media-savvy abuse-research volunteers, one of whom eventually succeeded in attracting the attention of the Huffington Post.

Photo courtesy Netflix
The lengthy 2015 HuffPo piece helped to set the stage for this year’s Emmy-nominated true crime documentary, The Keepers, which brought international attention and millions of viewers to the tragic story of Sister Cathy and the allegations of sexual abuse and alleged cover-up by Baltimore-area police and the FBI.
By the time The Keepers premiered in May of this year, the local news media—including print, television and magazines (such as Baltimore Magazine, which ran a lengthy investigative story on the nun’s murder)—were already reporting the story in shocking detail.
If there is a lesson for investigative reporters in all of this, it now seems clear.
Learn how to tell your story in a variety of formats (print, television, magazines and documentary film and video) so that you can reach a variety of audiences and thus maximize the story’s impact.
The bottom line: once the powers-that-be in Baltimore realized that the story of the murdered nun, the sexual abuse and the allegations of police cover-up was going to be the subject of a blockbuster, seven-part documentary on Netflix, the bureaucratic stonewalling gave way to increasing disclosures of revealing fact by law enforcement officials in Maryland.
Of course, the story isn’t over yet.
With local law enforcement in Maryland now talking openly about “new findings that may link six different unsolved murders to two priests who were involved in the abuse during the late 1960s and much of the 1970s,” there may very well be additional surprises ahead.
The effort to uncover the facts will continue.
Hopefully, the worldwide interest provoked by The Keepers will also continue to help journalists overcome the kind of stonewalling that so often takes place when law enforcement officials refuse to share information with the public—for motives that often seem dubious and self-serving.
Update: Baltimore county cold case detectives now confirm they are investigating six different unsolved murders in connection to this case. Read more
Tom Nugent is the author of Death at Buffalo Creek (W.W. Norton), a book of investigative journalism about a coal mining-related disaster that killed 125 people and left thousands homeless in Appalachia. He is also the publisher of an online newspaper, Inside Baltimore. Tom welcomes comments from readers.

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June 19, 1994 Baltimore Sun news article

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By Denise Koch

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In the 60s and 70s, Father Joseph Maskell, a counselor at Archbishop Keough High School, was accused of molesting dozens of students — mostly women.
A recent WJZ investigation revealed many of those victims confided in 26-year-old Sister Cathy Cesnik just before her shocking murder nearly 50 years ago.

“She confronted him and she lost her life for it,” says Teresa Lancaster.
Harsh accusations were told to WJZ by many of Maskell’s victims. We have spoken with two of those women, and now a third, Lancaster, is coming forward with a new bombshell.
She told WJZ she was abused not only by Father Maskell, but also by police officers.
“Father Maskell picked me up, took me to a wooded area where there was a lot of policemen gathered around, he left me in the backseat and two policemen abused me while Maskell stood next to the car,” she told WJZ’s Denise Koch.
Denise: “Two police officers raped you?”
Teresa: “Yes they did. Before I knew it there was a big man on top of me and then I thought that would be it and another policeman came in and I could hear Maskell in the distance talking and laughing.”
Denise: “How did they get away with this?”
Teresa: “Power and fear. Maskell was a police chaplain and he knew people in high places—that’s how they got away with it. They scared the living hell out of us.”
But how far was Father Maskell willing to go to keep his dirty secret?
WJZ has learned that the investigation into the killing of Sister Cathy focused for years on Father Maskell and an unnamed man, who shared victims.
Now, after nearly half a century, the case is getting new life.
“It’s not too late for victims to come forward,” said Elise Armacost, spokesperson for Baltimore County Police.
Baltimore County Police told WJZ they are once again conducting interviews in the murder of Sister Cathy.
They are still investigating if her death is connected to widespread sexual abuse.
Denise: “There are allegations by a number of the victims that officers — police officers — were involved in the abuse. Many even claim to have been raped by police officers.”
Elise Armacost: “We don’t know who these officers were, they’ve never been named, we don’t even know what jurisdictions that they may have belonged to.”
Lancaster says it’s unacceptable that more wasn’t done in the wake of Sister Cathy’s death. She was reported missing on November 7, 1969, and her decomposed body was discovered in January 1970.
Denise: “Maskell, of course, is dead. Whoever these officers were who raped you — we don’t know. Sister Cathy’s murder is unsolved. What do you hope could possibly happen next?”
Teresa: “Sister Cathy went to Father Maskell on behalf of the girls who were being abused. I think it’s obscene that not more was done about this murder. There’s so many things that coincide here — I don’t believe in coincidence.”
Follow @CBSBaltimore on Twitter and like WJZ-TV | CBS Baltimore on Facebook

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By Denise Koch

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Could a nearly 50-year-old secret be behind the murders of several Baltimore teenagers?
WJZ continues its investigation into the murder of young nun Sister Cathy, who was silenced right before she was about to blow the whistle on a powerful sex ring run by priests and police.

WJZ has learned that police are now looking into whether other unsolved murders could be connected.
Sister Cathy Cesnik’s decomposing body was found frozen in a ditch in Lansdowne in January 1970.
The murder of this popular nun has never been solved, and neither have the murders of five young people killed over the next decade.
Now, Baltimore County police are actively trying to determine whether the cases are linked.
In a rare interview, the aunt and sister of Heather Porter talk about the most painful time of their lives.
In 1981, 13-year-old Heather’s body was found in a wooded area in Towson.
She’d been raped and killed.
“It was the beginning of the worst nightmare that I wouldn’t wish on nobody,” said Porter’s aunt, Sarina McCloud.
“She had two thumbprints on her neck, she had a handprint on her arm or bruises,” said Mary Porter, Heather’s sister. “She had skin underneath her fingernails. Her fingernails were broke from the struggle. So she fought to the death.”
So did another teenager brutally murdered during this same time.
14-year-old Danny Crocetti, an altar boy, went missing in March of 1975.
Days later, two boys discovered his body.
“Danny was found in a stream, stabbed in the throat, behind a Catholic school,” said one of Crocetti’s classmates, Michele Cosden.
He had puncture wounds on his hands from trying to defend himself.
Police led his shaken father and uncle to the gruesome scene.
Danny’s classmate, Cosden, is seeing this decades-old murder with new eyes.
“This is a cold case, and maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe there’s a connection,” she said.
One of WJZ’s sources is convinced that these murders have too many similarities to be a coincidence.
[Reporter: “The first time you heard that Heather’s murder might be linked to other murders, in the same area, in the same time period, do you remember how you felt?”]
“I felt hope. Oh my God, am I going to have some peace?,” Mary Porter said.
Were Heather, Danny, and Sister Cathy silenced by members of a powerful sex ring run by priests and police?
WJZ’s year-long investigation reveals that during the time of the murders, there was a well-hidden culture of sex abuse at Catholic schools and churches.
Many women who’ve shared their stories of abuse with WJZ say victims confided in Sister Cathy right before she was murdered.
All these years later, Baltimore County police still believe someone out there has information that could solve these cases.
“We’ll continue to try to look for any leads, any additional evidence that we can find,” said Corporal Shawn Vinson, with the Baltimore County Police Department.
“They have semen, they have skin, they have hair, they have a piece of shirt, and I don’t understand because this is 2017. With all today’s technology, nothing,” Mary Porter said.
[Reporter: “What if the person who murdered your sister is dead?”]
“If you can prove that they did it, I’ve got justice,” Porter said. “At least they’re dead. At least they can’t do it to anyone else. They can’t do it to another living soul. They can’t break another family. They can’t hurt another innocent child.”
Baltimore County police say no tip is too small, and anyone with information on this case should call (410)887-2214
Follow @CBSBaltimore on Twitter and like WJZ-TV | CBS Baltimore on Facebook


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Stumbled upon a couple of articles - the first illustrates the hardness of Maskell's heart and the second tells of the digging up of of Maskell's papers.

Neighbors rally behind fired gravedigger
January 07, 1991 | By David Michael Ettlin

The caretaker-gravedigger of Holy Cross Cemetery, fired from his job of nearly four years by a Roman Catholic priest shortly before Christmas, has been ordered to vacate the large frame house on the cemetery property where he lives with his wife and seven children.

Although the caretaker, 51-year-old William F. Storey, was told to have his family out of the house by today, the order was delayed by an official of the Baltimore archdiocese this weekend following complaints about Mr. Storey's firing and eviction by the family and by neighbors of the cemetery off the 6000 block of Ritchie Highway on the edge of Brooklyn Park.

"It just seems very unlikely someone would fire a person lightly, right before Christmastime," Monsignor Francis Malooly said late Saturday, adding that he did not know the reasons for Mr. Storey's dismissal by the Rev. Joseph Maskell of the Holy Cross parish in South Baltimore.

Father Maskell said Mr. Storey had been given repeated warnings and was fired because "over a period of time his job performance has not been satisfactory."

The priest cited concerns about the caretaker's contacts with cemetery visitors but was reluctant on legal grounds to divulge details of a personnel matter.

Mr. Storey said he was given five reasons at a meeting with the priest on Dec. 22 -- that there were "several occasions when it appeared I had consumed alcohol," that he had been accused of rudeness to two elderly women visiting the cemetery, and that he had failed to cooperate with the grass-cutters, to keep the house tidy and to fulfill all his duties.

The caretaker -- who formerly worked as a guard at the maximum-security Patuxent Institution -- acknowledged that he had not been perfect, citing in particular his 1987 arrest for drunken driving in a parish car.

"Every time I get into an audience with [Father Maskell], he brings it up. I paid my dues for that. I went to court, I paid my time and I put in my two years' probation.

"There is no drinking on duty as he claims there is," Mr. Storey said. "I told him . . . that I do not drink on duty. After hours when I get off duty, yes, I'll have a beer or two. That's my privilege."

Mr. Storey also admitted to having "a short fuse" and displaying it when, he said, the two women drove on to the property, past a "do not enter" sign, ignored a sign directing inquiries to the church office, and knocked on the back door of his house while he was alone working in the graveyard.

"Out of hundreds of people that come out to this cemetery, two times he's had complaints on me that I know of, that he came to me and told me about," Mr. Storey said. "The last instance was [the] two elderly ladies. . . . There's been hundreds of people out here complimenting me. There's been no problem, except these two old ladies. The one lady called me an ignorant son of a bitch."

Mr. Storey said neither he nor the supervisor of the grass-cutting service were aware of complaints about his cooperation. He contended the house is "lived in" but reasonably clean and claimed he never refused any duty -- not even when his supervisor had him wash and wax church vehicles.

Mr. Storey speculated that the question of his fulfilling his duties amounted to "a failure of communication" about working hours between the priest and the church maintenance worker who is the caretaker's supervisor.

The caretaker said both his salary and working hours were cut in May, when the priest told him that "the cemetery was operating in the red." The pay was reduced from $6.25 to $5.10 an hour, he said, while the hours dropped from eight a day to six.

Then, he said, the supervisor told him to end the working day at 2 p.m., when a part-time assistant ended his day. Mr. Storey said Father Maskell probably was unaware of that when the priest came to the cemetery in the afternoon and found him sitting at home "with my feet up."

A neighbor who lives south of the cemetery and knows the Storey family said conditions in the cemetery appear much improved since the previous caretaker was fired and Mr. Storey started work.

"Any story about him not working hard, I find hard to believe," said the neighbor, 65-year-old Patricia Cole Blom.

She noted that the Storey family had little money. "With $5 an hour, you don't save up. With seven children, you can't find a house. He hasn't had a chance to get a job. This is an incredible injustice being done here."

Mrs. Blom also questioned the timing of the firing and order to leave the property.
"Evicting a family over Christmas?" she said. "A Catholic church? A priest? . . . These people spent a hellish Christmas. The children sat in my living room and cried."

A neighborhood businessman, William Bennington, told clients and members of his Baptist congregation, the Annapolis Community Church, about the Storey family's situation. Individuals from both groups have provided food and toys for the family, Mr. Bennington said.

"Mr. Storey keeps to himself and doesn't ask for a lot of help," Mr. Bennington said. "But everyone in the community thinks he has done a fine job."

Late Saturday, the Catholic Archdiocese also offered some help.

Monsignor Malooly said representatives from Associated Catholic Charities would meet with the caretaker and his wife, 46-year-old Margaret A. Storey, and offer job counseling and help in finding alternative housing and get their side of the story -- including any accounts from "witnesses" who worked with Mr. Storey.

Mrs. Storey, a lifelong parishioner at Holy Cross, works as a floral arranger for a South Baltimore florist.

The couple have eight children between the ages of 10 and 19 -- with an 18-year-old son now living on his own. There are two sets of twins, 19-year-old girls and 14-year-old boys.

"The cemetery was in deplorable condition when we came here," said Mrs. Storey. "You couldn't see the headstones for the grass, that's how high it was. It was Mother's Day, the end of May. The archdiocese got flooded with complaints that year."

The 50-acre cemetery, according to Father Maskell, dates back a century and has had about 15,000 burials.

He said Mr. Storey was the only full-time employee at the time of his firing and acknowledged he was anxious to have him leave.

The priest noted that the Anne Arundel County social services department has said the family could be put into "emergency housing if necessary," and he offered to continue the family's health insurance for several months "to ease the burden."

"I can't replace Mr. Storey as long as he stays in that house. . . . The heating, fuel, electricity, water and sewerage, insurance coverage -- that's all part of the remuneration," Father Maskell said.


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Police dig up records priest ordered buried
August 10, 1994 | By Robert A. Erlandson and Joe Nawrozki | Robert A. Erlandson and Joe Nawrozki,Staff Writers

Baltimore City detectives investigating sex abuse allegations against a Roman Catholic priest dug up a van load of confidential records yesterday the priest had ordered buried four years ago in Brooklyn's Holy Cross Cemetery.

City police were accompanied by the two Baltimore County homicide detectives assigned to the revived investigation of the unsolved 1969 slaying of Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik.

A high-ranking county police official said investigators were there because the name of the priest -- the Rev. A. Joseph Maskell -- had come up during their probe of the 25-year-old crime.

Father Maskell and Sister Catherine were both on the faculty of the all-girls Archbishop Keough High School in Southwest Baltimore in the late 1960s.

Father Maskell, 55, stepped down as pastor of St. Augustine's Church in Elkridge on July 31 amid allegations that he had sexually abused students at Keough during his tenure as chaplain and counselor from 1967 to 1975.

In interviews with the police and The Sun, Father Maskell has denied all allegations that he abused former students or had any knowledge of the slaying of Sister Catherine.

The papers exhumed yesterday were buried in the cemetery in 1990 at the direction of Father Maskell, who was then pastor of Holy Cross Parish in South Baltimore, according to two sources familiar with the burial. They included what appeared to be psychological test evaluations and canceled checks.

The city officers, who are investigating the sex abuse allegations and had obtained a search warrant, were accompanied by two Baltimore County homicide detectives.

"Our interest in being there was not the allegations of sex abuse," said Capt. Rustin E. Price, commander of the county homicide unit. "We were there because of the Cesnik murder investigation. . . . Father Maskell's name has come up in our investigation."

Baltimore Assistant State's Attorney Sharon A. H. May, head of the city's Sex Abuse Unit, directed yesterday's excavation but declined to comment on the operation.

William D. Blaul, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, said the archdiocese was aware of the excavation and is cooperating with city authorities. The archdiocese owns the cemetery, which is managed by Holy Cross, he said.

Father Maskell's attorney, J. Michael Lehane, said he could not comment on the search.
After Father Maskell's departure from St. Augustine's, officials told parishioners that he had requested leave to seek inpatient therapy for anxiety and stress brought on by "the prospect of civil litigation and a criminal investigation."

The archdiocese said yesterday that the Rev. Gerard J. Bowen of Holy Trinity Church in Glen Burnie has been appointed administrator of St. Augustine's in Father Maskell's place.

Soggy records

Eleven police officers arrived at the cemetery shortly after 7 a.m. yesterday. After a backhoe operator dug out the top layers of earth, officers dug down to the stacks of papers with shovels.

From the pit, which was about 12 feet square and 10 feet deep, they spread the soggy records on the ground. After sifting through them, investigators placed selected documents in black plastic trash bags.

Detective Donna Askew, who is leading the police investigation, declined to identify the records piled into the city-owned van but said, "We took what we needed after I looked them over based on the information we've developed."

The pit is located in a remote section of the cemetery, surrounded by woods and undergrowth, where excess earth and old flowers are dumped. Police were led to the spot by a former cemetery employee who said he was ordered to dig the pit at Father Maskell's direction.

Ex-worker recalls event

The former employee, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said he was called by the cemetery supervisor in July 1990 and ordered to dig a pit 12 feet square and 13 feet deep.
"I could have buried a backhoe in there. I was told, 'Don't ask why,' " the man said.

That afternoon, he said, a pickup truck, driven by a man he believed to be a relative of Father Maskell, arrived packed with boxes of documents. He said he and the driver threw the papers into the pit; then the driver returned to the Holy Cross rectory in the 100 block of E. West St. for two more loads.

While he was waiting between loads, the former employee told The Sun in March, he examined some of the papers, which appeared to be psychological evaluation sheets of men and women. He said he did not note any details, however.

When they were through, the former employee said, he was ordered to backfill the pit and seed it so that it couldn't be found. The man said he kept the location in his head until he became aware of the investigation of Father Maskell. Then he sketched a map, which he placed in a safe deposit box of a local bank.

A source close to Father Maskell, who also spoke under condition of anonymity, denied that there was anything "sinister" about the buried documents. He said the priest and a psychologist used a federal grant to set up a psychological testing center in 1975 and that Father Maskell took the records to Holy Cross with him in 1985. Because of a ban on open burning, the priest decided to dispose of them by burial at the cemetery, the source said.

The link between the allegations of sex abuse against Father Maskell and the slaying of Sister Catherine was forged this spring by one of the women who alleged that Father Maskell had abused her while she was a student at Keough.

Nun disappears

The woman told her attorneys, police and The Sun that she had told Sister Catherine about the abuse at the end of the 1969 school term.

Shortly afterward, Sister Catherine left the Sisters of Notre Dame Convent and her position at Keough to teach in Baltimore City schools.

The nun disappeared Nov. 7, 1969, after she left on an evening shopping trip from her residence at the Carriage House Apartments on North Bend Road in Southwest Baltimore.

Police conducted an intensive search but turned up nothing until Jan. 3, 1970, when two hunters stumbled upon the partially clothed body on a frozen field in Lansdowne. An autopsy showed that she had died from a blow to the head.

But the former Keough student said that Father Maskell drove her in his car to the body of Sister Catherine before it was discovered and told her that she was responsible for the nun's death because she had told Sister Catherine about the alleged sexual abuse.

After a silence of more than 20 years, the woman first brought her allegations of sexual abuse to the Archdiocese in 1992, while Father Maskell was still pastor at Holy Cross.


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