Warning: This article discusses sexual abuse.
Who killed Sister Cathy Cesnik?
That is the question that Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub asked themselves. They were both students of Cathy’s in the late 60’s at Keough, and they both adored her. It’s been 47 years since she was killed in Baltimore, yet there are still no answers.
So, they got their own Netflix Original series, The Keepers, which looks into the question. A lot of the series focuses on the idea that Sister Catherine Cesnik was murdered because she was going to do something at the abuse taking place at the school she worked.
The abuse was allegedly committed by Father Joseph Maskell, the counsellor at Keough. While it was never proven in a court of law, the Archdiocese has given compensation to some of the survivors of abuse committed by Maskell.
The main theory behind Sister Cesnik’s death is that a student confided in the nun about what was happening to her, and Cathy said she was going to do something about it. Jean Hargadon Wehner, who was known as Jane Doe by the courts, couldn’t remember the abuse for a long time. When her memories started to return, she recounted Maskell taking to her where the body of Sister Cathy was eventually found.
Listening to the victims of abuse recount what happened to them will make your skin crawl. In a place where you’re meant to learn and be excited and discover who your are, you shouldn’t feel sick just by attending.
Many in The Keepers believe that while Maskell may not have actually committed the deed, he certainly had a hand in it.
Billy Schmidt, and the man he was dating, “Skippy” were also another theory. Schmidt lived across the hall from Cathy. Billy’s former sister-in-law believes that Skippy, who only made Billy more bizarre, got him and her husband involved. Her husband came home saying “we killed a girl behind the shop”. Add to the fact that a specific type of cigarette butt was found near Cathy’s body, a brand Billy smoked, and that is about all of the evidence involved in this theory. Many people of the internet believe its weird that a woman would testify against her husband like that, so they don’t hold much stock in the theory.
Gerry Koob was the secret love interest of Cathy. He was the first person Sister Russell, Cathy’s room mate, called about her disappearance. He proposed to her, and she turned him down. He claims that she never told him about the abuse. Some people on the show believe that the alibi given, dinner and a movie with his friend, doesn’t add up.
There are three other theories on what happened to Sister Cathy, but these are the main ones. Many of those on The Keepers believe that the abuse taking place at Keough was a predominant factor in what happened to Sister Cathy.
While the documentary is about what happened to Sister Catherine Cesnik, it does talk about the Archdiocese and the history of covering up abuse. It shows how in Baltimore in the 1960s and 1970s, the Church was everything. It’s clear to see why these people would stay quiet for so long, but it doesn’t make it right.
Investigations by the Spotlight team in Boston and Don’t Tell expose the horrific nature of these institutions.
Despite the fact you never actually find out who killed Sister Cathy, it is a show worth a watch if you can handle the graphic nature of it all. The investigative work done by Gemma and Abbie, and the dedication to their teacher, will impress you to no end.
You can currently watch The Keepers on Netflix.