The latest entry in Netflix's ever-growing catalogue of true crime documentaries and docu-series is The Keepers, a seven-part investigation into the mysterious disappearance and death of a Baltimore nun. The case went cold decades ago but was recently re-opened. The show tracks the renewed investigation into the people who may have been involved. Among the potential suspects the series presents as those who may have had a hand in the killing are several of the nun's former coworkers, including a priest named Father Neil Magnus. But where is Father Magnus now, nearly 50 years after the crime?
The Keepers depicts the ongoing amateur investigation of the murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik. She was a 26-year-old nun and former Archbishop Keough High School teacher in Baltimore, Maryland when she vanished in November 1969. Her body was found nearly two months later. Her unsolved killing haunted her former Keough students, several of whom came forward decades later to reveal their allegations of ongoing sexual abuse at the school and the fact that they'd confided in their beloved teacher. It is their theory that Cesnik's knowledge of the scandal (and possibly her threat of coming forward to reveal the abuse) may have been tied to her death.
Father Joseph Maskell — the chaplain of Keough at the time of Cesnik's murder — had "unbelievable power" and connections within the city and was the priest at the center of "this really horrific web" of child sex abuse taking place at the school, The Keepers director Ryan White told People. But according to the allegations from some of Maskell's victims, he was far from the only culprit.
One victim, Jean Hargadon Wehner, claimed to The Huffington Post that she began to recover her memories of the abuse in 1992 — and Magnus was one of the men who abused her. Wehner recalled that, after confiding details of earlier sex abuse to Magnus during confession when she was a young teen, he and Maskell began calling her into their offices and sexually abusing her separately and together, forcing her to perform sexual acts and to watch them masturbate.
Teresa Lancaster, another victim, told reporter Ted Nugent of Inside Baltimore that Magnus — then the school's Director of Religious Services — had refused to help her fend off Maskell's abuse when she'd confided in him. "I asked Father Magnus in 1970 if he’d be my counselor because I was being sexually abused by Father Maskell," Lancaster recalled. "But Father Magnus said, 'I’m sorry, but I can’t help you. Try to stay away from him.' And then he shut his office door in my face."
Another woman, who chose to remain anonymous, told The Huffington Post that the night before Cesnik disappeared, she'd been at her teacher's apartment discussing the abuse. She recalled that Magnus and Maskell had barged into the apartment without knocking, interrupting their meeting.
According to the same HuffPost feature on Cesnik's murder, Magnus died in 1988, never having been formally charged of any crime or named as a suspect in the unsolved murder. If The Keepers were to uncover that there was a connection, it's unfortunately too late for him to be brought to justice. But, at the very least, the show will shine a light on the Keough abuse allegations and help uncover the truth about Cesnik's death.