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[00:00:02]

Due to the graphic nature of this case, listener discretion is advised this episode includes dramatizations and discussions of murder and sexual abuse of minors that some people may find offensive. We advise extreme caution for children under 13. Where are you headed, Joyce? Oh, mom, you scared me.

[00:00:26]

I'm just headed to the mall for some Christmas shopping and then, well, it's a date night, maybe a daytime date this weekend would be better if this is about that nun again. Joyce, the girl disappeared after an evening shopping trip. It's not crazy of me to worry about you doing the exact same thing.

[00:00:48]

Sister Kathy was just some freak occurrence. I'll be careful and I'll be fine. You promise? Cross my heart and hope to die. Well, I won't finish that thought by.

[00:01:02]

On the night of November 11th, 1969, 20 year old Joyce Malecki drove off to run errands and see her boyfriend. There was a sense of danger in the air as just a few nights earlier, a nun named Cathy Cesnik disappeared without a trace. But terrible crimes rarely happened in the Baltimore suburbs, and Joyce thought she was safe.

[00:01:27]

Joyce was wrong that night. She would disappear too. And though she and Cathy's bodies would be found within months, the hunt for their killers would go on for decades.

[00:01:48]

This is unsolved murders, true crime stories, a podcast original, I'm your host, Carter Roy, and I'm your host, Wendy McKenzie.

[00:01:57]

Every Tuesday, we dive into the world of a real unsolved murder and try to solve the case.

[00:02:02]

You can find episodes of unsolved murders and all other podcast originals for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts to stream unsolved murders for free on Spotify. Just open the app and type unsolved murders in the search bar.

[00:02:17]

This is our second episode on the 1969 murder of Cathy Cesnik, a Catholic nun and teacher. Last week, we covered the horrors she experienced after learning a priest was abusing her students. This week, we'll cover the investigation into her murder and the information revealed decades later that could help solve the case.

[00:02:39]

We have all that and more coming up. Stay with us. In 1965, a 22 year old nun named Cathy Cesnik began teaching English and drama at Archbishop Keough High School, a Catholic all girls institution in Baltimore, with a youthful attitude like Marías in The Sound of Music. Sister Cathy quickly became a favorite among her students.

[00:03:06]

On the surface, Cathy was practically perfect, but underneath her sense of self was splintering. She'd gotten close to a young priest at Keough named Gerry Koob, who asked her to leave the convent and marry him. Cathy refused, but it was a difficult decision. She had feelings for him too. Soon after, Cathy's faith was rocked when she learned that some of her students were being sexually abused by Father Joseph Maskell, another young priest who served as counselor at Keough.

[00:03:39]

Kathy vowed that she would take care of the problem, but her next move surprised everyone. In the summer of 1969, she and fellow nun Sister Russell Phillips began a period of lustration where nuns leave their convent dressed like average women and live life in the real world. They even left Keough to teach at a public school. Despite the sudden shift, Kathy and Russell rented an apartment together and stayed friends with their former Keough students.

[00:04:08]

Kathy was also still working on the Father Maskell issue, but her plans never came to fruition. On the evening of November 7th, 1969, sister Kathy left her apartment to run errands and never came back. Her roommate, Russell, called Father Koob and his friend Brother MacKean to help, and the men found Cathy's Ford maverick in short order. The car was muddy, full of leaves and parked at an odd angle near her apartment. There was no sign of Cathy, which meant it was time to call in the police and start a search for the missing sister.

[00:04:47]

Officers were looking for a young Caucasian woman, late 20s, five foot five, green eyes, slender, last seen in a coat and a yellow sweater. She made it into the woods. So I wouldn't say your prayers. Let's get this lamb back to the Lord, led by Captain John Barn hold of the Baltimore City Police.

[00:05:08]

Thirty five officers searched every inch of southwest Baltimore despite the suspicious appearance of Cathy's car. Investigators did not yet believe she was the victim of foul play.

[00:05:21]

Their opinions changed when a Keogh's student came forward with information about the night of November 7th. We'll call her Jenah to protect her identity. Can you tell me a little more about where you were last night so you know, the same telephone company, phone book, they have addresses in there, too. And there's this teacher at school, Mr. Neun. He's very cute and mean. My friend figured we could go see where he lived.

[00:05:49]

That's not illegal, is it?

[00:05:52]

I'll look past that if you can get to the point. Oh, from the street, we could see right into Mr. Noon's apartment. He was in his undershirt combing his hair in the mirror. He's got such good hair.

[00:06:06]

Miss, is this a report or a scene from Days of Our Lives? Sorry. So that night we heard this dreadful yelling nearby and now I realize we were right around the corner from where Sister Cathy lives.

[00:06:22]

This yelling, was it a woman's voice? No. A man. And I couldn't tell who he was or what he was saying, but he was so upset it scared the heck out of us. So we ran. I hope that helps.

[00:06:37]

You bet it does. Now, stay out of the phone book and off the streets with you.

[00:06:42]

These are scary times to be a young lady. Her tip indicated that something may have gone on outside Cathy's apartment on North Bend Road, but no one could determine who the man was that the girls heard. And as police probed the tip, they suddenly found themselves with another mystery to deal with.

[00:07:02]

On the night of Tuesday, November 11th, 1969, 20 year old Joyce Malecki vanished, too. At first glance, Joyce and Kathy only had their Catholic faith in common. Joyce was younger, worked as a secretary for a liquor distributor and had a boyfriend stationed at the Army's nearby base at Fort Meade.

[00:07:22]

However, Joyce and Cathy's disappearances were quite similar. Just like Kathy, Joyce had gone out to do some evening shopping at a local store. And just like Kathy Joyce's car was found abandoned. Investigators realized they could be dealing with a serial abductor, but the threat became much darker in just a few days time.

[00:07:46]

On November 13th, 1969, Joyce Malachy's body was found floating face down in the Little Patuxent River. Her hands tied behind her back. She had been choked to death and stabbed in the throat.

[00:08:01]

The Little Patuxent River passed by Fort Meade military base where Joyce was supposed to meet her boyfriend. It's unknown to us whether he was ever a suspect. And in fact, a lot about Joyce's disappearance was unknown to the police because Joyce was found on a military base. The FBI took over the investigation and has since withheld many of the details of Joyce's case. Local police found this incredibly frustrating part. This provided them more time to devote to, Cathy says, Nick's disappearance.

[00:08:33]

Her case appeared more suspicious by the day, and those suspicions could be heightened by a discovery made by Cathy's sister, Marilyn.

[00:08:43]

Marilyn was terribly distraught, though Marilyn was six years younger, the two girls had shared a bedroom growing up, and they had remained close.

[00:08:51]

Despite their vastly different lives.

[00:08:54]

Marilyn attended college and was engaged to a man named Bob. She had recently asked Kathy to be her maid of honor, and Kathy was all in the non had exchanged letters with Bob and heartily approved of him. In fact, Kathy was on her way to pick up an engagement present for the couple on the night of November 7th, when she disappeared.

[00:09:14]

One week after the disappearance, Marilyn checked her campus mailbox and found an eerie surprise. Within, it was a sealed letter and the return address was in Cathy's handwriting. Marilyn rushed off to call her parents for guidance.

[00:09:32]

Call them and turn it in Maryland. Just turn it in. I love you too, Joseph. What did Marilyn want? You look like you've seen a ghost. She got a letter from Kathy. It was postmarked on November 8th, the day after she went missing. What? But that's good, right? That means she might still be. We don't know that. And she could have put it in the mailbox late on the 7th and it just wasn't postmarked till the next day.

[00:10:00]

Well, fine. Forget about the logistics. What did the letter say?

[00:10:05]

I told Maryland not to open it. It's evidence. So I thought it'd be best if she turned it into the police right away without reading it. Joe, what if Kathy had a message for us or what if it's a sick prank? Some malcontent who read about Kathy and wants to mess with us? Marilyn's already a wreck and we all are. I can't take the risk. I want to see that letter. Joe, it's Cathy's birthday this month.

[00:10:30]

And if I can't see. My baby girl, I just like to have some part of her around, Cathy will turn up soon and when we celebrate her 28th birthday next November with her, that letter will be the furthest thing from all our minds.

[00:10:45]

As Cathy's November 17th birthday came and went, the Seznec tried to keep hope alive.

[00:10:52]

Though she hadn't read the letter from Cathy, Maryland insisted it proved her sister was alive and out there somewhere, while Maryland found hope in the letter, Cathy's mother and sad hope and spirituality and superstition while praying that her daughter would be brought home and swear off chocolate as a sacrifice until Cathy made her return. Cathy's disappearance lasted through Christmas and even into the New Year. But as 1969 turned in 1970, locals made a gruesome discovery in the nix would be forced to confront their beloved Cathy's hellish fate.

[00:11:36]

Next, we'll cover the surprising investigation into Cathy's friend, Father Koob. History, politics, true crime, the new Spotify original from past has it all.

[00:11:51]

Hi, I'm Carter and I am thrilled to tell you about the new series, Very Presidential with Ashley Flowers. It uncovers the most damning details surrounding history's most high profile leaders. Every Tuesday through the 2020 election, host Ashley Flower shines a light on the darker side of the American presidency. From torrid love affairs and contemptible corruption to shocking cover ups and even murder, she'll expose the personal and professional controversies you may never knew existed. You'll hear some wildly true stories about presidents such as JFK, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and more very presidential highlights the exploits you never learned in history class, but probably should have family drama, personal vices, dirty secrets.

[00:12:43]

These presidents may have run, but they most certainly can't hide.

[00:12:48]

Follow very presidential with Ashley flowers free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And now back to our story. In November of 1969, Baltimore was rocked by the disappearance of two young women. The first was Cathy Cesnik and 26 year old nun and teacher who was planning to report a priest named Joseph Maskell who abused Cathy's female students.

[00:13:20]

The second was Joyce Malecki, a 20 year old office worker who was found murdered and floating in a river. As the FBI took over the Malecki murder, the Baltimore City and county police doubled down on their search for the missing sister, Cathy. The hunt lasted almost two months and ended on January 3rd, 1970, when a father son hunting duo stumbled onto someone else's prey.

[00:13:51]

I know it's cold, but you'll scare the critters away if your teeth keep chattering. Now, try and spot a rabbit so we can shoot the damn thing and get home. Is that one that blue thing over there in the snow? Son, have you ever seen a blue rabbit? No. But it looks furry, doesn't it? Going over. See for yourself. Dead. Hey, Dad, what's wrong? What is it? It's not a rabbit.

[00:14:17]

Let me come and see. No backup. We got to find the closest house and phone the cops.

[00:14:24]

The hunters stumbled onto a gruesome discovery. Sister Cathy says Cesnik frozen remains five miles away from her home, though she was half buried in snow in a pile of trash. The bright blue of her skirt and coat stood out in the winter sun.

[00:14:40]

Baltimore County police officers raced into action, led by police captain Louis Bud Roemer. He hopped into a Plymouth cruiser and drove to the secluded dump site off Monumental Avenue.

[00:14:53]

Roemer had tracked Cathy's disappearance for months, and now that she was found, the hunt for her killer was his responsibility.

[00:15:01]

When Roemer arrived, he was faced with a ghastly sight. Kathie lay on her back on a pile of trash. A coat and purse were tossed aside and she wore only her slip and to skirt. The slip was hung low around her shoulders and her skirt was pushed up around her knees or exposed. Flesh had been mauled by the local wildlife. Cathy's clothing implied that she had been sexually assaulted. But Cathy's head was by far the most horrific aspect of the crime scene.

[00:15:35]

Her skull had been partially caved in.

[00:15:37]

The body was rushed off for an autopsy where Dr. Werner Spitz confirmed her cause of death. Severe blunt force trauma to the skull. Although it's likely that her death was not sudden. Her worst injury was a two inch wide hole, which could have come from a hammer or a tire iron.

[00:15:58]

There was no doubt Cathy Cesnik had been murdered.

[00:16:02]

Cathy was taken back to her home state of Pennsylvania, where she was buried at St. Mary's Cemetery in Sharpsburg. Her father, Joseph, was openly anguished while her family and friends dealt with the gravity of her loss in their own ways.

[00:16:17]

Back in Baltimore, Cathy's former students were also suffering, especially the ones who had confided in her about father Maskell's abuse. Cathy had promised to fight for them, and now their champion was gone. It's just I feel so bad. Ideally, this could all be my fault. Why would you think that? Gosh, Nora, sister Kathy was probably just killed by the same maniac who got that choice, lady.

[00:16:46]

Ladies, why aren't you in class? Sorry, Father Maskell. I say, could you write us a pass so we can skip gym? Corner is not handling the news about Sister Cathy very well.

[00:16:59]

God rest her angelic soul. Millie, run along. I'll tend to. Nora. Nora, do you want to come to my office and talk?

[00:17:08]

No, you are right. I should be in class. I'll stop blubbering, I promise.

[00:17:12]

Very well. But come see me after school. I can tell you need a session. I can't. I have to run an errand with my mother.

[00:17:21]

I'll call and let her know. That should give us a few hours. Oh OK. Good girl. I'll see you later, Nora.

[00:17:31]

Sadly, Maskell's abuse allegedly continued after Cathy's death. A silent series of atrocities that happened right under the police's nose. Meanwhile, police began searching for a viable murder suspect. This was difficult, especially since there were no usable fingerprints anywhere on Cathy or in her car without physical evidence. Police were left to speculate. Some believed Cathy was the victim of a violent robbery.

[00:18:00]

She had withdrawn 255 dollars and that money had gone missing, which supported the robbery theory. However, Cathy's jewelry and other valuables were still on her body or in her purse when she was found, which didn't seem to track with the robbery narrative.

[00:18:18]

Locals provided their own stories to the police, but they were rarely helpful. Some swore they saw Cathy's maverick follow another car out of the shopping center. Lot others said that her car was parked in its usual spot at her apartment at eight thirty pm. Some say it only showed up at ten thirty pm in the odd illegal parking spot where Gerry Koob and Brother McKeon found it later that night.

[00:18:45]

The fact that the car was returned to her home was suspicious. Given that her body was dumped five miles away, it's possible that Cathy was kidnapped outside her home. But another theory was that Cathy's killer knew where she lived and brought the car home after killing her.

[00:19:03]

Investigators were intrigued by the personal connection, if only because it narrowed their list of suspects.

[00:19:09]

Given the possibility that Cathy had been sexually assaulted, it seemed even more likely that Cathy's attacker had known her to Captain Romer. This potential connection made one of Cathy's relationships deeply troubling. Specifically, Romer found it awfully suspicious that Cathy's roommate, Russell, called Father Koob on the night of Cathy's disappearance. Romer pushed to have Koob questioned, and his investigation soon uncovered more complex truths about Cathy and Koops dynamic.

[00:19:43]

In early 1970, Romer paid a visit to Cubs' home at Manresa, the Annapolis Jesuit community. There, Romer came across another letter Cathy wrote before she died. The letter to Koob was postmarked four days before Cathy's November 7th disappearance and revealed the sea of passion raging within her heart.

[00:20:07]

My very dearest Jerry, if ever I should leave you, is playing on the radio, I'm all curled up and then my period has finally arrived 10 days late. So you might say I'm moody. My heart aches.

[00:20:25]

So for you, I must wait on you, your time and your need even more than I had before. I think I can begin to live with that more easily now than I did two months ago. Just loving you within myself, I must tell you. I want you within me. I want to have your children.

[00:20:52]

This was an entirely new side to Cathy Cesnik, and it was the kind of evidence that was sure to spur gossip and debate at police headquarters. Captain Roemer, you're saying a nun wrote this looks like it. When I found that letter, Koob started wailing and admitted he was fooling around with Sister Cathy. Poor man was out of his mind. I'd be, too, if the archdiocese finds out there'll be fire and brimstone right here in Baltimore. Huh.

[00:21:21]

But if KU was all upset, doesn't that make him innocent? Maybe unless it's the reverse and all that passion boiled over into something ugly. How solid is his alibi for November 7th?

[00:21:34]

Well, before he and Father MacKean got Russel's call to come up here, they were at the movies.

[00:21:39]

Seeing Easy Rider are a sinner and a cinephile. Do we have any eyewitnesses? No, sir, but we do have ticket stubs.

[00:21:50]

After that, he and McCain went back to Manresa for a drink when Mr. Russell called them only. Hang on.

[00:21:58]

In one statement to the Baltimore Sun, MacKean says he drove up that night from his place in Beltsville, not from Manresa, but every other time he said he was not going back to Marea Liquor at the Jesuit Center with KU. I don't know, maybe the sun just misquoted him.

[00:22:15]

I'm getting a little tired of these maybes.

[00:22:17]

I think it's time we turn up the heat on Father Koob, make him feel some of our own brimstone rumor had a hunch that Ku wasn't telling him the whole truth and proceeded to subject the priest to numerous interrogations and polygraph tests. While Coop was willing to cooperate, the pressure took a toll on his psyche. Perhaps Romer thought he could break him, but Koob had God on his side, or at least God's lawyers. The Archdiocese of Baltimore allegedly sent two attorneys to protect Koob from rumors probing though they later denied this.

[00:22:54]

Their ultimatum, if they offered one, was simple either charge Koob with a crime or let the poor man grieve for his fallen friend in peace.

[00:23:04]

While rumor had evidence that Cathy and Cubs' relationship was intense, he had no proof that Koop did anything suspicious on the night of the murder. In a heavily Catholic city like Baltimore, pressuring a priest was unseemly at best and sacrilegious at worst. So rumors higher ups made him drop the Koob.

[00:23:25]

Roemer questioned several people with lie detectors and scoured the crime scene for more evidence. However, his resources were limited, and he lacked the level of forensic science and DNA analysis we have today. As the investigation slowed, those closest to Sister Cathy were forced to move on without answers.

[00:23:47]

Cathy's sister Marilyn found happiness by marrying her fiance, Bob, in late 1970, but she never felt satisfied with the police's work. For one thing, the letter Cathy wrote her was never returned to her and appears to have been lost. They were the last words her sister ever wrote, but Marilyn never got to read them.

[00:24:08]

Cathy's roommate Russell, left the church. She refused to discuss the murder, and she eventually started over by getting married and having two children. Even Gerry Koob moved on. He left his Jesuit college and became a Methodist minister, though his love for Cathy was strong, he later met and married a woman named Diane and had children with her.

[00:24:29]

Captain Romer retired in 1975, and by 1977, the investigation ground to a halt. Those closest to Cathy rebuilt their lives without her, but they still hope that someday someone would solve her murder.

[00:24:46]

Some possible answers would finally arise over twenty years later, when Father Maskell's victims were finally ready to talk.

[00:24:57]

Next, we'll cover the shocking allegations that erupted against Maskell in the 1990s and the continued search for Cathy's killer or killers. Now back to the story.

[00:25:13]

In 1969, Sister Cathy Cesnik discovered that her students at Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore were allegedly being abused by a young priest and counselor named Father Joseph Maskell. Kathy searched for a way to stop Maskell's villainy, but she was murdered before she could go public. With the information.

[00:25:34]

With Kathy out of the picture, Maskell star continued to rise. He earned a master's degree in school psychology from Towson State University and a certificate in counseling from Johns Hopkins. Maskell also kept working at Keough until 1975 and then served as a priest at several Baltimore churches.

[00:25:56]

By 1990, Maskell was 50 and working at Holy Cross Church in Baltimore. The well-connected priest was chaplain for the Baltimore County and Maryland State Police, as well as the Air National Guard. It was a career he was undoubtedly proud of, and yet there were parts of it he wanted to bury.

[00:26:17]

According to a Holy Cross Cemetery groundskeeper who will call Frank Maskell ordered a large plot of earth to be dug up in 1990. He wanted to bury several boxes of his personal records, which Frank found to be a little strange.

[00:26:38]

Father, you sure you don't want me to take this to a recycling plant or something? No, it's all church business. It's only right that we dispose of it in a holy place.

[00:26:50]

Guess the bodies here will have some new read material. Oh, they'd find it pretty dull. These are just odds and ends school records from when I taught boring bits of paper. Yeah, but don't you want to keep all this stuff to look back on someday?

[00:27:06]

No, Frank, I have my memories. Maskell cherished his memories, but the girls he abused repressed theirs until 1994. That's when two former students sued Maskell for 40 million dollars in damages for childhood sexual abuse. We'll call one of them moire to protect her identity.

[00:27:30]

Moira was a Baltimore based Keough alum of the class of nineteen seventy one. In her late thirties, the Mary, devout Catholic, began to reflect on her youth and uncovered memories of Father Maskell's abuse that she had repressed for over twenty years. Recovered memories are a tricky topic, especially as they relate to childhood abuse. There have been instances where alleged abusers were wrongfully convicted due to accidentally fabricated stories. However, Moira was adamant that her memories were real and she wasn't alone.

[00:28:07]

While preparing for her lawsuit in 1992 and 1993, Moira and her lawyers collected dozens of stories from former Kiyo students about Maskell's abuse.

[00:28:18]

The acts, they reported, were almost too horrific to detail. In addition to sex with students, Maskell allegedly drugged and hypnotized them, threatened them with guns, showed them pornography and took them to a gynecologist for exams. Maskell also invited friends from the clergy and the Baltimore police to assault girls while he watched. The scariest participant was a mystery man known as Brother Bob, whose sadism topped even Father Maskell's. The accusations, which began in 1982, eventually caused a media sensation and Maskell's.

[00:28:58]

Other misdeeds caught up with him, too, after hearing a report from the groundskeeper. We know, as Frank, who Maskell fired over Christmas in 1990, police dug up the boxes he buried at Holy Cross Cemetery. An anonymous police source told a journalist that the boxes contained nude photos of underage girls. And it seemed like Maskell would finally pay for his sins.

[00:29:24]

But then the tide somehow turned in Maskell's favor. State attorney Sharon May said that there was nothing incriminating in the boxes. The archdiocese supported him and in the end, the lawsuit from Moire and the other victim was dismissed on a technicality. In 1994, the statute of limitations for reporting childhood sexual abuse was within seven years after the accuser's 18th birthday, the Morris team protested that her newly recovered memory. Presented a special situation, Maskell's Defense successfully argued that recovered memories weren't always reliable, though the suit's result was disappointing.

[00:30:06]

There were two silver linings. The first was that Maskell resigned from his duties, likely at the insistence of the diocese. The second was a twist in the hunt for Cathy's killer. Moira previously remembered telling Kathy about the abuse, but at a later therapy session, she recalled a chilling encounter that showed her the consequences of telling Kathy.

[00:30:32]

It was November during school. Father Maskell called me into his office. He said he knew I must be worried about Kathy, but I hadn't heard she'd gone missing. So I was just confused.

[00:30:45]

He said I had to come with him, and then Maskell drove me to some kind of deserted place like a dump. And Sister Kathy was lying there on the trash with maggots on her face and neck in her blue coat. And I remember trying to wipe them off, asking Father Maskell to help.

[00:31:05]

But he just laying down over my shoulder and said, see what happens when you say bad things about people.

[00:31:12]

A few days later, Brother Bob told me he was the one who killed Kathy. She was going to go to the cops. So he had no choice. And it's all because of me, because I told her, where is memory of Father Maskell?

[00:31:28]

Showing Cathy's body to her was of great interest to the police, as was her recollection of maggots. Initially, the police claim that public records of the autopsy made no mention of the insects and that it would have been too cold for them to spawn.

[00:31:45]

However, a deeper dig revealed that November temperatures in 1969 were warmer than usual. Then investigators discovered a detail from the autopsy that never made it to the public records. There were maggots presented Cathy's throat. There was virtually no way for Moira to know this without having had some encounter with her body. And the police jumped at the chance to reopen the case.

[00:32:11]

They theorize that Father Maskell found out about Cathy's suspicions and killed her or had one of his mystery associates like Brother Bob, do it. The police questioned Maskell extensively over 1994 and 1995, but the eloquent, recently retired priest put up an unflappable front. Father Maskell. We just want to make some sort of sense of who this brother Bob might be. I'm not saying you were involved, but if there's any light you can shed on officer, I have no idea what you're talking about.

[00:32:48]

Look, I believe someone hurt those girls. And amidst all that trauma, they got confused and decided to blame me, which I almost understand. I was quite close to the girls at Keough, but in a strictly respectable way. I didn't do anything to them or to Cathy Cesnik.

[00:33:08]

By mid 1995, the police realized they weren't getting anywhere with Maskell more. His memories contain some intriguing details, but ultimately more evidence was needed. Cathy's murder was once again consigned to the cold case pile, while 56 year old Maskell left Baltimore and the country.

[00:33:31]

He moved to Ireland and continued to present himself as a priest, even though he was not supposed to minister publicly. Most troubling, Maskell eventually operated his own private psychology practice for children. In 1998, he returned to the United States, though only 59. The former priest, an accused child abusers health, declined over the next few years after a massive stroke. He died on May 7th, 2001, at the age of 62, when a former Baltimore nun found out about Maskell's death.

[00:34:09]

She knew she had to call Russell Phillips, Kathy's former roommate.

[00:34:14]

Ross, Maskell's, good God rest his soul, of course, I guess that man took his secrets to the grave.

[00:34:24]

Russell herself passed away from cancer just three days later at age 57. Nobody quite figured out what Russell knew about Cathy's murder. But from her brief words on that final call, it appears that she was well aware of Maskell's. Dark side.

[00:34:43]

After Russell and Maskell died, solving Cathy's murder seemed hopeless, but once again, the girls from Kyohei came through to keep hope alive.

[00:34:54]

Since 2013, a Facebook group led by former students Abby SCB and Gemma Hoskins had brought together survivors of Maskell's abuse. Though Abbie and Gemma weren't among Maskell's victims, they adored Sister Cathy and believed Maskell might be responsible for her death. Abby and Jemma's group provided healing for Maskell's victims, but they also intended to be a place for finding answers. Abbie and Gemma were determined to solve the mystery once and for all.

[00:35:27]

The unusual pair of 60 something sleuths soon gained media attention, becoming the stars of a 2017 Netflix documentary. The keepers, their time in the spotlight, helped them track down some fascinating new leads.

[00:35:43]

They created a tip line to help funnel new clues, and a woman named Debbie Yorn contacted them. She claimed that her volatile uncle, Edgar Davidson, was connected to Cathy's murder on the night of November 7th, 1969. He stunned his wife when he came home with blood on his shirt, which he claimed was from a fight with his boss.

[00:36:07]

A few other key details made Edgar seem even more suspicious. That Christmas, Edgar gave his wife a necklace with a wedding bell charm on it, which may have been the engagement gift that Kathy bought for her sister. And in 1971, Edgar was arrested for trying to lure teenage girls into his stolen car.

[00:36:29]

If Edgar was a child abuser, perhaps he was the mysterious brother Bob. Yet another suspicious character arose when a second woman named Sharon claimed that her uncle, Billy Schmidt, was involved in Cathy's murder. Her father was also suspicious.

[00:36:46]

One night, her father, Ronnie, came home covered in blood and later told her mother, Barb, that he and his brother Billy had killed a woman.

[00:36:58]

Billy Schmidt was a troubled man who was allegedly obsessed with nuns to the point of dressing like them and keeping a habit in his parents attic after a sudden change in behavior in late 1969. Billy died by suicide in early 1970. Sharon theorized Billy's involvement in Cathy's death caused that shift. It wasn't an outlandish story, but there was an eerie ring of possible truth to it. After all, Billy Schmidt lived in the apartment right next door to Cathy's.

[00:37:35]

It's important to note that while both of these stories were presented in the documentary The Keepers, there hasn't been a publicized investigation of these claims by authorities. And in both cases, the implication seems to be that these men were hired or coerced into killing Cathy by someone else.

[00:37:55]

While Wylder theories like these were interesting to Geman Jamnabai, the amateur investigators had another goal in mind finding the connection between the murders of Cathy Cesnik and Joyce Malecki. In many ways, Joyce is the forgotten victim in this tragic tale, who had only received a fraction of the media attention is Cathy. The lack of answers caused a lot of pain for the surviving Malachi's but Jim and hope to change that. While there's no evidence that Joyce and Cathy knew each other.

[00:38:28]

There are hints of a connection between her and father Maskell. Maskell was her parish priest, and while growing up, Joyce attended many church retreats where he was a presence given his allegedly vast predatory appetite. It's possible that Joyce was one of his teenage victims. And since Joyce and Cathy were both taken from their cars while running evening errands and dumped in remote locations, the similarities between their murders can't be ignored. That's why the women's Facebook group is titled Justice for Catherine Cesnik and Joyce Malecki.

[00:39:06]

Cathy wasn't the type to ignore another young woman's pain, and now her beloved students have grown up to follow in her footsteps.

[00:39:15]

In 2017, new detectives were assigned to the Cessnock and Maleki cases, and modern forensics were employed to help solve the decades old mystery. Father Maskell's body was exhumed from its grave so investigators could collect DNA samples and test for potential crime scene matches.

[00:39:34]

Sadly, Maskell's DNA did not match any evidence from Cathy Says next crime scene, and it's unclear whether any evidence from Joyce Malachi's remains. Still, that doesn't mean Maskell didn't do it. It just means he wasn't caught despite the need for more investigation.

[00:39:52]

All signs still seem to point back to Father Joseph Maskell. I believe he either murdered Cathy outright or sent one of his associates to do the deed. While it's true that his abuse was never proven in court. There are so many accounts of it that it practically feels criminal not to believe the brave women of Kyohei school.

[00:40:12]

I agree. While it's true that Cathy's murder could have been the result of a random robbery, the fact that she was planning to expose a powerful, connected priest feels too important to overlook. Maskell thrived in an environment of secrecy and shame. So, of course, anyone speaking up would have to be silenced.

[00:40:34]

Cathy Cesnik murder still resonates with this because it illustrates the profound and uncomfortable dichotomy that exists within organized religion.

[00:40:44]

On the one hand, it's a system where young women like Cathy find a spiritual calling and a chance to make a difference in the lives of others.

[00:40:53]

On the other, it's also a system that allows twisted men like Father Maskell to commit decades of horrific abuse with very few consequences because few would dare question the morals of a man of God.

[00:41:08]

There are so many unknowns left to ponder about the strange, terrible events that rattled Baltimore in late 1969. But unlike many unsolved murders, the case of Sister Cathy has more momentum and attention behind it now than ever before. And if her former students have anything to say about it, it will be solved.

[00:41:41]

Thanks again for tuning into unsolved murders. We'll be back next Tuesday with a new episode for more information on Cathy Cesnik murder. Amongst the many sources we used, we found Ryan White's documentary series, The Keepers, extremely helpful to our research.

[00:41:58]

You can find all episodes of unsolved murders and all other Pakistan originals for free on Spotify, not only to Spotify, already have all of your favorite music, but now Spotify is making it easier for you to enjoy all of your favorite cast originals, like unsolved murders for free from your phone desktop or smart speaker to stream unsolved murders on Spotify.

[00:42:19]

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[00:42:23]

We'll see you next time if we live till next time.

[00:42:27]

Unsolved Murders True Crime Stories was created by Max Cutler and as a podcast studio's original executive producers include Max and Ron Cutler, Sound Design by Russell Nash with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Isabel Away. This episode of Unsolved Murders was written by Amin Osman with writing assistance by Abigail Kane. And the amazing cast of Voice Actors includes Tom Bower, Filberts Kimlin, Tranh Dan Velasquez and Jan Wong. It stars Wendy McKenzie and Carter Roy. It's the most powerful position in American politics and arguably the world, but behind the oath to preserve, protect and defend, lie, dark secrets supposed to leave some legacies in disgrace.

[00:43:18]

Don't forget to check out the new Spotify original from past very presidential with Ashley Flowers every Tuesday through the 2020 election. Host Ashley Flowers shines a light on the darker side of the American presidency, exposing wildly true stories about history's most high profile leaders.

[00:43:38]

To hear more follow. Very presidential with Ashley flowers free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.