There are multiple threads that will undoubtedly run through Netflix's true crime series The Keepers, telling several overlapping stories in an effort to figure out just what happened to two young women who went missing in Baltimore in 1968. There's the story of Catholic high school teacher Sister Cathy Cesnik, who disappeared on Nov. 7 and was found dead two months later. There's the story of the alleged sexual abuse at the school where Cesnik taught and how trying to stop it might have led to her death. And lastly there's the story of a woman named Joyce Malecki who disappeared just four days after Cesnik did. Their stories might be connected. But what happened to Joyce Malecki?
Malecki was a 20-year-old resident of Baltimore who went missing on Nov. 11 and was found dead in the woods two days later on Nov. 13. The similarities between her murder and Cesnik's wouldn't become clear until Cesnik's body was discovered months later, however. Both were women in their 20s who had vanished from shopping centers in the same area of Baltimore. They were both found not far from one another in isolated locations, with marks on their necks that indicated they had been choked. It's possible that the same person killed them both, but the perpetrator was never brought to justice.
The details in both murders seem similar enough that it's possible Cesnik and Malecki had been killed by the same person. If they were both killed randomly by a stranger, then the two crimes exhibit the same M.O.: both young women abducted from shopping centers in the same area and strangled — though Cesnik's cause of death was ultimately a blow to the head, and Malecki was stabbed, which Cesnik was not.
However, many believe Cesnik wasn't killed by a stranger, but by someone who knew her; specifically, someone who was trying to keep her from blowing the whistle on the supposed abuse happening at Archbishop Keough High School. Malecki doesn't appear to share that link to Keough at first glance: she didn't attend the school, nor did she seem to have known Cesnik. But the link is there.
Malecki almost certainly knew the priest who was at the forefront of many of the abuse claims — a man named Father Joseph Maskell. Not only did he live and serve at St. Clement Church, the church the Malecki family attended, but Malecki might have gone on church retreats that he was present for. Her family was also on record as having donated money to Keough. However, no evidence was ever found linking Maskell to Malecki or Cesnik's deaths, so his involvement was never confirmed.
Romper reached out to the Baltimore Archdiocese for a statement regarding the accusations against Father Maskell and his potential involvement in Cesnik's death. The spokesperson commented that "Father Maskell was never considered a suspect in that murder. He was interviewed once. One of the victims claimed that she had a recovered memory of his involvement in her death, but he was interviewed and never charged."
Furthermore, on May 17 The Washington Post reported that the DNA results from when the police exhumed Father Maskell's body came back to reveal that his DNA did not match crime scene evidence.
There's no indisputable way to know if Cesnik and Malecki were killed by the same person, or even who that person might be. Nothing has been officially proven, but there does seem to be more to the story of Malecki's disappearance than anyone knows. The fact that both she and Cesnik were caught in the same web could indicate that they suffered the same fate at the hands of the same person. Though without any definitive proof to back up the claim, the cases both remain unsolved.
The Keepers premieres on Netflix on May 19.