Netflix to Spotlight Baltimore Nun’s 1969 Murder in New Documentary Series

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A new seven-part Netflix series will explore the unsolved 1969 killing of a 26-year-old nun at Baltimore’s former Archbishop Keough High School.

“The Keepers,” directed by Ryan White, will cover the events surrounding the murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik “and the horrific secrets and pain that linger nearly five decades after her death,” according to the Monday announcement from Netflix.

Cesnik went missing on Nov. 7, 1969. Her body was discovered roughly two months later. During a troubled time for Archbishop Keough, she was one of the school’s most popular faculty members.

While her killing was never solved, journalists have dug up the story periodically over the years. The Huffington Post in 2015 ran an investigative piece about her killing and the cloaked, spooky culture of Archbishop Keough.

Much of that coverage has focused on Father A. Joseph Maskell, a well-protected priest at the time who served as the chaplain for various local and state law enforcement agencies. In the 1990s, a woman who claimed she had been sexually abused as a student at the school decades before stepped forward and said Maskell had taken her to see Cesnik’s body in order to keep her quiet.

“See what happens when you say bad things about people,” she quoted Maskell as saying to her.

(Maskell has since passed away, though the Archdiocese of Baltimore is still paying for his time with the church. Last fall, the Catholic organization doled out settlements to about a dozen people who said he had sexually abused them at some point in their lives.)

White, who also directed “The Case Against 8,” about overturning a same-sex marriage ban in California, and “Good Ol’ Freda,” about The Beatles associate Freda Kelly, spoke with friends, relatives, journalists, public officials and others in Baltimore to make “The Keepers,” according to Netflix’s announcement.

The docuseries will premiere in full on the online streaming service on May 19. A spokesperson for Netflix said a trailer isn’t available yet, though People Magazine says it will premiere it this Wednesday.

Baltimore already achieved widespread notoriety through Sarah Koenig’s investigative podcast “Serial” several years ago. Judging by the popularity of Netflix’s 2015 “Making a Murderer” series, Charm City could soon be in the global murder-mystery spotlight once again.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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