Netflix's latest true crime project The Keepers borrows a little from the success of Making a Murderer and a little from the success of 2016 Oscar-winner Spotlight to make a compelling series about a nun who was mysteriously murdered nearly 50 years ago. It promises a deep dive into the 1969 murder of Sister Cathy Ann Cesnik — who taught high school English and drama in Baltimore before her gruesome death — and the people close to the case. So who is Tom Nugent on The Keepers? He's a key player in the investigation.
Nugent is an investigative journalist who's been writing about Sister Cathy's murder since 1994, most notably in his sprawling Baltimore City Paper investigative report "Who Killed Sister Cathy?" Since then, he's been writing updates on the case via his personal news blog, Inside Baltimore. Nugent has also written investigative features for Mother Jones, Chicago Tribune, and Washington Post, as well as other pieces for The New York Times, Boston Globe, The Nation, MIT Technology Review, and Stanford University Magazine. He published a nonfiction book in 1973 titled Death at Buffalo Creek about a coal mining disaster in West Virginia, which earned him a Pulitzer Prize nomination and a $12,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. Needless to say, Nugent's journalism chops make him a perfect asset for a Netflix docuseries like this one.
Part of the reason he's so crucial to the case is because of his conversations with two anonymous victims of the alleged sex abuse by Father A. Joseph Maskell, a priest who worked as the guidance counselor at the high school where Sister Cathy taught. The victims both claimed to Nugent that Maskell took them to the spot where Sister Cathy's body had been dumped (before it discovered two months after her murder) as a means of intimidation to keep them from speaking out about their abuse. Said one of the victims to Nugent about the chilling incident, "Father Maskell leaned over and whispered in my ear, 'You see what happens when you say bad things about people.'"
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:
This story’s been told many times, especially here in Baltimore since the ‘90s when these allegations first came out. 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.
So Maskell's involvement was never confirmed and he was never convicted of Cesnik's death. You can watch The Keepers when it releases on May 19.