No one knows who bashed-in Sister Cathy Cesnik's head and left her in a Lansdowne ditch 47 years ago. But everyone who has looked at the case in the past two decades or so thinks it's a good bet that the parish priest murdered the young nun, probably because she was going to blow the whistle on the priest's sexual abuse of young girls at the school where she taught.
Yesterday, authorities exhumed the body of Father A. Joseph Maskell, dead 16 years, to obtain his DNA and test it against evidence found in Cesnik's case.
"Maskell was a player in this scenario that we needed to take a look at so," Elise Armacost of the Baltimore County Police told WJZ. "This was a step that we needed to take."
Maskell's brother was a city cop, and Father Maskell was friends with a lot of other cops. One of the sexual abuse allegations was that Maskell forced students to have sex with a cop.
On May 19, Netflix premieres a seven-part documentary about murder of Cesnik called "The Keepers."
Below is a reprint of City Paper's 2005 piece detailing Cesnik's murder, the alleged abuse—and the murder, just a few weeks after Cesnik disappeared, of another woman who might have known something about the sexual abuse. (Edward Ericson Jr.)
"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."
"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. . . ."
- class="li1">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.
- class="li1">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.
- class="li1">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.”
- class="li1">St. 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.”