Netflix’s new thrilling docuseries, The Keepers, starts with the question: Who killed Sister Cathy Cesnik? The haunting story raises several queries about the priest at the center of it all, Father Maskell. Is Father Maskell still alive?
Netflix delivered another riveting series that will haunt you for days with The Keepers. The story centers around the murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik and is the streaming giant’s latest foray into true crime stories. If you’ve watched the docuseries, you probably have several questions that you can’t seem to answer. What has become of Father Joseph Maskell, the man at the heart of this unsolved murder? Read on an find out more in our Father Maskell wiki.
Father Maskell’s Role in the Murder Mystery
Father Joseph Maskell was the Chaplain at a Baltimore high school, where Sister Cathy Cesnik was a beloved teacher. Sister Cathy disappeared after a shopping trip and, two months later, her mutilated body was found in a garbage dump.
The case was unsolved but came under the media spotlight nearly 20 years later, when two former students came forward and accused Father Maskell of abuse. They claimed that the nun was told about the Chaplain sexually abusing multiple students at the school, which is why she was murdered. One of the victims even said that Maskell took her to Sister Cathy’s yet-to-be-discovered body to warn her. Maskell however refuted all allegations and the case remains unresolved after nearly five decades.
Who is Father Maskell?
Joseph Maskell grew up in Northern Baltimore and graduated from Calvert Hall College. He trained for priesthood at St. Mary’s Seminary near his college. He was ordained in 1965 and went on to serve as Chaplain at Archbishop Keough High School, where he allegedly abused students.
He had an inclination for psychology and offered to counsel the students who were victims of abuse. This was reportedly his ploy to handpick traumatized students to sexually abuse them and even traffic them to other men —some of them police officers.
Sister Cathy Cesnik was a well-liked and approachable teacher at the school. Suspicious of the dubious activities going on, she found out about the abuse from a student. When this particular student returned the next semester, the abuse stopped but Sister Cathy had disappeared. Two months later, she was found murdered and her students believe that Maskell killed the nun to silence her.
What Happened to Father Maskell?
By the time the students spoke up about Maskell, the priest was long gone from the school. He had transferred to several other parishes in the interim. When the sexual abuse allegations came to light, the diocese evaluated his involvement. Maskell naturally denied the allegations and even claimed that the stress from the accusations made him seek treatment.
The investigation was going nowhere and lawsuits by his victims were thrown out due to a legal technicalities. Father Maskell was removed from his priestly duties, but faced very little in the way of consequences. The Archdiocese remained tightlipped about where the priest was seeking stress and anxiety treatment, but it was later discovered that he fled to Ireland. He remained there until his death in 2001 at the age of 62.
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Fast forward more than 15 years after his death, and 45 years after Sister Cathy’s unresolved murder, the priest’s crimes are still being brought to light. His victims, who had suppressed memories of the abuse, continue to come forward but justice seems unreachable. It was revealed that the archdiocese paid sums of money to victims as a way to cover the costs of counseling. The police even went as far as to exhume Maskell’s body for DNA evidence. But to this day, Sister Cathy’s murder remains unresolved.
The Keepers can be streamed on Netflix now.