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The Keepers

Sister Cathy Cesnik

In 2017, Netflix released an original documentary called The Keepers which reignited interest in the unsolved murders of Sister Cathy Cesnik and Joyce Malecki in 1969. Catherine (Cathy) Cesnik was a Catholic sister and taught English and drama at Archbishop Keough (later renamed Seton Keough), an all-girls Catholic high school in Baltimore.

On November 7, 1969, Cathy Cesnik left her apartment in Catonsville to buy an engagement gift for her sister. She never returned, and her car was found parked illegally across from her apartment. The car was caked in mud, which it had not the day before. Police searched for Cathy Cesnik, but turned up nothing. Two months later, on January 3, Cesnik’s body was found by a hunter and his son in an informal garbage dump in Lansdowne, Maryland. She died from a skull fracture and brain hemorrhaging.

Catherine CesnikJoyce Malecki was a twenty-year-old office worker at a liquor distributor in Baltimore. On November 11, 1969, Malecki went shopping at Harundale Mall in Glen Burnie, Maryland before she was meant to meet her boyfriend in Fort Meade for dinner. When she did not show up for dinner a search ensued. Her body was found two days later on the bank of the Little Patuxent River at Fort Meade. She had been bound, strangled, and drowned.

The Keepers called attention to a possible connection between Cesnik’s and Malecki’s murders and sexual abuse allegations at Archbishop Keough. Former students at the school have alleged that during the time Sister Cathy worked at Keough, Father Joseph Maskell sexually abused many girls at the school. One of the girls confided in Cesnik, and felt Cesnik would take care of it. One of the former students claims Maskell took her to see Cathy Cesnik’s body and said, “You see what happens when you say bad things about people?” The location was different from where her body was eventually found, but it was the same area where Malecki’s body was found. Maskell died in 2001, but is still considered a suspect in Cesnik’s murder.

Developments in the case can be followed on the group’s Facebook page.

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