Who Killed Sister Cathy Cesnik? 'The Keepers' Revisits The Case
The new Netflix documentary series The Keepers revisits the 1969 murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik, a nun and teacher at the Catholic high school Archbishop Keough. The mystery of her disappearance and death has never been solved despite decades of curiosity. The case went cold soon after Cesnik's body was discovered, though there was renewed interest in the 1990s when Cesnik's death was linked to alleged sex crimes being committed at Keough. Many suspected that Cesnik was murdered for trying to protect the girls being abused there. But who killed Sister Cathy Cesnik?
It's impossible to know for sure because no one has been convicted of Cesnik's murder and there wasn't much in the way of evidence. Cesnik disappeared the night of Nov. 7 after running some errands: she cashed a check at the bank and then stopped by the bakery on her way to buying an engagement present for a cousin. But that was the last time anyone saw her alive. Her roommate called some friends when Cesnik didn't return home and those friends called the police. Cesnik's car was found back at the apartment complex, but it wasn't parked in her usual spot; however, it didn't show any signs of a struggle. Her body was found two months later.
A primary suspect in the Netflix series for Cesnik's murder is Father Joseph Maskell, a priest who worked with her at Keough as the chaplain and counselor. He was the one many have accused of the sexual abuse of the Keough students, and one girl alleged that he showed her Cesnik's body before it was discovered as a threat to keep her silent. (He denied initial accusations until his death in 2001.) He eventually fled to Ireland before his death.
Father Neil Magnus was the religious services director at Keough and, according to the victims, he was allegedly Maskell's partner in abuse. In 2015, The Huffington Post reported an unnamed woman alleged that Maskell and Magnus had stormed into Cesnik's apartment the night before she disappeared, in a rage. (Magnus died before allegations came to light.)
There is also a possibility that a stranger is the reason Cesnik died. Unfortunately, no other suspects were ever connected to the case.
Sister Cathy Cesnik never saw justice for what happened to her, but perhaps The Keepers can provide some kind of closure.