From the archives

Sister Catherine Cesnik case: Missing Nun's Body Found In Lansdowne

Two men were questioned at length this week by Baltimore County Police in their investigation of the slaying of Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik, the 26-year-old Roman Catholic nun whose partly-clad body was found last Saturday in a dump off the 2100 block Monumental Ave. in Lansdowne.

An autopsy disclosed that the nun, who had been missing from the apartment home she shared with another member of the religious order since Nov. 7, died of a skull fracture caused by a blow to the left temple by a blunt instrument.

It was impossible to determine whether the nun had been sexually attacked, but the body’s position and arrangement of clothing pointed to that conclusion.

The autopsy also was not definite as to the time of death.

George E. Brown, of 7 Plastic Ct., who was hunting in the area with his son, discovered the nun’s body.

According to Mr. Brown, his son, Carl, first saw the body. It was lying on its back, legs apart, head turned to the right, about 100 yards off Monumental Avenue. The body was partially hidden by an embankment, and snow covered.

The Browns ran to a house nearby and called police. Officer Raymond Sherman of the Wilkens District was the first policeman on the scene.

He reported that the body was dressed in a navy blue skirt and white slip. The slip had been pulled down from the shoulders and the skirt had been pulled up, so that the clothing was bunched around the waist.

Officer Sherman said some decomposition had occurred, and animals had disturbed the body.

A pair of panty hose, an aqua coat, a black pocketbook with contents intact except for money, and a black low-cut Woman’s shoe were found near the body as was a navy blue jacket matching the skirt.

Officer Sherman said the ground was snow covered -- it snowed on Christmas Day -- and no tracks were visible except for those of small animals, possibly opossums.

Although children had been sledding not far away in the days immediately before the body was discovered, it was in a position that would not have easily been seen.

Police said it was probable the Sister Cesnik had been carried to the dump area or forced to walk there. A car cannot be driven from Monumental Avenue to the point where the body was found.

The nun, a member of an order which allows ordinary civilian dress, lived in an apartment at 131 N. Bend Rd., in Baltimore City.

She had gone to a Catonsville bank and to a local Shopping Center. Her car was found about a block from the apartment home, a box of bakery buns on the front seat. There was no sign of struggle.

City and County police conducted two searches immediately after her disappearance, one in the woods off Wilkens Avenue and the other in Patapsco State Park. Both were without results.

County police recalled that a nun who had gone to a local Shopping Center last spring was abducted and taken to Patapsco State Park where she was attacked, and they were checking points of similarity of the case to the murder.

The men questioned by police were not identified.

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, The Evening Sun and The Arbutus Times. 

 

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