Sister Catherine Cesnik case: City Police Fail To Find Missing Nun
Nov 10, 1969 | 12:00 AM
Thirty-five policemen and 5 dog teams combed a 14-block section of Southwest Baltimore from dawn to dusk yesterday searching for clues to the whereabouts of a 26-year-old nun who disappeared Friday night.
The policemen knocked on doors, searched alleys and deserted buildings and sent men and dogs through rain-soaked park areas from Athol avenue west to the Baltimore county line.
"We found nothing," said one policemen when the search for Sister Catherine Cesnik ended. "The search is concluded."
An unlocked and strangely parked car, a twig and a thread and a box of bakery buns are the only clues police have in their attempt to trace Sister Catherine, 26, who left her garden apartment on North Bend road at 7 30 P M. Friday and has not been seen since.
Sister Catherine, a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, teaches 11th and 12th grade English at Western High School.
Her roommate, Sister Helen Russell Phillips, told police that Sister Catherine had taken her car to go to a Catonsville bank to cash a check and then to the Hecht Company store in the Edmondson Village Shopping Center to buy an engagement present for her sister.
When Sister Catherine had not returned at 12 43 AM. Saturday, Sister Russell telephoned two friends at the Manresa Retreat near Annapolis, who drove to Baltimore, heard the story and called police.
One of the men, Brother Peter McKeon, F S C, went for a walk about 4 A M , and found Sister Russell’s green 1970 Maverick parked, unlocked, in a no-parking area a block from the apartment.
A resident of the apartment complex later told police he had noticed the car in the yellow-lined space on Carriage court with its rear bumper at the edge of the street’s intersection with North Bend road about 8 30 P.M.
A box of buns from Muhly's Bakery was on the front seat, the Rev Gerard J Koob, S J, the other friend, said yesterday, and a forked twig was attached to the car’s turn-signal lever by a yellow thread.
Sister Russell told police Saturday that Sister Catherine was wearing a yellow sweater when she went on the shopping trip.
“It looked like it was put there deliberately,” Father Koob said. ''It looked as if it had been tied to the turn signal.”
He said the two nuns usually parked on a lot furnished for residents of the apartment complex, and that Sister Catherine always locked her car doors.
“It’s very unusual,” he said. “Cathy was always very careful about that.”
Sister Catherine’s parents, Mr and Mrs Joseph Cesnik, came to Baltimore yesterday from their home in Pittsburg.
They spent most of the day in their daughter’s apartment with the two clerics from Manresa and Sister Russell, emerging only to tell reporters they were “very concerned.”
The two nuns had lived in the Carriage House apartments since August.
Rentals in the two-story buildings run from $135 to $140 a month, residents said.
8 Years In Order
The nuns have been members of the teaching order for the past eight years. They left the parochial school system this year to take teaching posts in the city school system.
"They felt they could do more outside the convent as involved teachers," David Curtis, a former student of Sister Catherine's at Archbishop Keogh High School, said yesterday. "She struck me as being very dedicated to her job, a marvelous person.
Police began searching the area near the apartment on Saturday morning, looking in the Irvington area, and in Leakin Park, a mile to the north, the scene of a number of grisly crimes in past years. The search, which was aided by local residents, was called off at dark and begun again yesterday morning.
The Baltimore Sun is republishing archived coverage of the unsolved 1969 murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik, which is the subject of a Netflix documentary series set to debut May 19. Cesnik, a 26-year-old Baltimore nun, was reported missing in November 1969 and her body was found in Lansdowne in January 1970. These stories appear as they were originally written in The Sun or The Evening Sun.