Netflix's upcoming series The Keepers is the latest in the streaming channel's ever-growing true crime library, following 2015's Making a Murderer and 2016's Amanda Knox film. Behind every unsolved crime documentary or docuseries is a person (or a group of people) dedicated to finding the truth. The Keepers, which tracks a renewed investigation into the 1969 death of Sister Catherine Cesnik, is no different. In the case of this show, Cesnik's former students are among those spearheading the investigation and are featured prominently in the new series, leading many to ask: Who is Abbie Schaub on The Keepers?
According to The Huffington Post's feature on her death, Cesnik was a 26-year-old nun and teacher living in Baltimore when she vanished in November 1969. She was found dead, strangled and beaten, nearly two months later. Those featured in The Keepers hold the belief that Cesnik was murdered because her students had confided in her about an alleged ongoing clergy sex abuse scandal at Archbishop Keough High School (where she worked up until a few months before her death) and the possibility that she may have threatened to come forward and expose the abusers.
Schaub, a 1970 Keough graduate and retired registered nurse, is one of the primary amateur investigators into the death of her former teacher. Ryan White, the director of The Keepers, even said in an interview with PEOPLE that she was among its "most important participants," alongside her co-investigator Gemma Hoskins as well as Jean Hargadon Wehner, one of the women who came forward about the alleged abuse in the 1990s. Wehner also claimed that Father Joseph Maskell (then the chaplain of Keough) took her to see Cesnik's recently-deceased body prior to it being found and threatened her with the same fate if she came forward.
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."
Hoskins became interested in the case after she retired from teaching and her husband died, leaving her with plenty of time to devote to it. In 2013, she reached out to Tom Nugent, a former Baltimore Sun reporter who had investigated the case in 1994. From there, she began actively seeking out other victims of reported sexual abuse at Keough, posting on the official alumnae Facebook page, which led Schaub to team up with her. The two formed their own Facebook group, "Justice for Catherine Cesnik and Joyce Malecki," to discuss the unsolved murders of their beloved former teacher and of Malecki, another 20-year-old victim whose death might also have been connected to the abuse scandal. Hoskins and Schaub, along with Cynthia Marie Backus, serve as the group's administrators.
"Abbie and I are perfect examples of left brain and right brain,” Hoskins told HuffPost in an interview for the same feature. "It’s almost like two halves that fit really well together. I’m thrilled that we’ve reconnected." Schaub, the women have said, handles much of the research, while Hoskins takes on face-to-face time, networking and meeting with the Keough sex abuse survivors. The Keepers follows their ongoing investigation into Cesnik's death and into uncovering Keough's alleged legacy of abuse.
Schaub and the others are so invested in Cesnik's case after all this time because she was a beloved teacher and because they want to honor her memory by uncovering the truth. "Sister Cathy’s murder has always haunted me," Straub said in a 2014 interview with Nugent. "They describe her killing as a 'cold case,' but it’s never felt cold to me."
The full seven-part season of The Keepers premieres on May 19 on Netflix.