Major spoilers for The Keepers ahead. Proceed with caution.
If you haven't binge-watched Netflix series The Keepers yet, stop what you're doing right now and get on it — but come back when you're done! For those that have finished the seven-episode series, you are probably now in the same boat as me, hitting up Google, Reddit and Facebook for any of the latest developments in the Sister Cathy Cesnik and Joyce Malecki murder cases. The series — which delves into Cathy's brutal murder, as well as the alleged sex abuse which took place at Keogh High School in the 1960s — broke open a 40-year-old cold case, primarily thanks to two retired former Keogh students who were determined to discover the truth about Sister Cathy's death.
What followed was monolithic power structures being weakened by the voices of victims determined to seek justice some 30 years later. In 1992, "Jane Doe" came forward with testimony stating that she was taken to see Sister Cathy's body by her primary abuser Father Joseph Maskell. It was there that he threatened her, saying "See what happens when you say bad things about people." As the case unfolded, more and more was revealed about the possible suspects, as well as events leading up to the discovery of Sister Cathy's body in January 1970. However, the series failed to solve the case entirely, but that doesn't mean it's over. Since the completion of The Keepers, there have been further intriguing updates which add yet more depth to this gripping case.
1. Maryland's Statute of Limitations Has Been Extended
In Episode 7, 'The Conclusion', we saw survivors of Maskell's crimes (as well as other sex abuse victims) attempt to pass a bill which would extend the statute of limitations past the age of 25. The bill finally passed this year, and from July 1, 2017, victims in Maryland have until the age of 38 to sue their abusers. This is obviously a huge step in the right direction for those suffering with repressed memories, and will hopefully see more victims feel empowered to come forward in future.
2. The Exhumation of Maskell's Body
Just before The Keepers hit Netflix, Father Joseph Maskell's body was exhumed to test his DNA against that which was found at the original crime scene. As DNA is so much more advanced now than it was in 1970, Baltimore Police were able to conclude that the (assumed) cigarette butt found at the scene of the crime did not match Maskell's DNA. While this is an important update, the series all but ruled out Maskell as the murderer, instead looking at two other men who were far more likely to have carried out the crime itself. Whether there are plans to test the DNA against either of them is unclear.
3. There Is A Brand New Facebook Group Moderated by Gemma Hoskins
The Justice For Sister Catherine Cesnik and Joyce Malecki Facebook page — which featured heavily in the series as a way to connect amateur sleuths and possible victims — was closed down a few days after The Keepers aired. The site was inundated with requests, and Hoskins told the Baltimore Sun that, "It was necessary to close the page temporarily due to a traffic jam and a technical glitch." However, there is a brand new Facebook group open to everyone called The Keepers Official Group — Justice for Catherine Cesnik and Joyce Malecki where information pertinent to the case can be discussed and shared. The group currently has 82,000 members.
4. Archdiocese of Baltimore Still Refuse To Admit They Knew About Maskell Before 1992
Since The Keepers was released, the Baltimore Archdiocese has posted an FAQ on their website offering answers to questions viewers might have in relation to their involvement in the case (or lack thereof). In the frankly eyebrow-raising FAQ, the Archdiocese state that they fully supported Delegate CT Wilson's bill to extend the statute of limitations — despite Wilson saying otherwise. They also firmly state that they "first received an allegation of sexual abuse against Maskell in 1992, more than 20 years after the abuse occurred." They further say that the allegation that they knew about Maskell long before 1992 is "speculation and false." Furthermore, the Archdiocese states that it's provided "$97,000 in counseling assistance and over $472,000 in direct financial assistance to those who may been abused by Maskell."
5. Local Police and the FBI Are Working Together
All tips and phone calls relating to the completely unsolved murder of Joyce Malecki — many of which happened as a result of The Keepers — are now being referred to the FBI. Joyce's body was discovered in the woods around Fort George G. Meade, which makes it a federal case. Furthermore, the Baltimore Police Department has created an online Sex Offense Incident Information Form to help Maskell's victims report his crimes, or the crimes of those mentioned in the series.
Those with relevant information to the Malecki case can contact FBI Public Affairs Specialist Dave Fitz (email: [email protected], phone: (410) 277-6689).
6. Maskell May Have Had A History of Sexual Abuse Himself
While this is pure speculation, it is an example of the kinds of intriguing information the new Justice for Catherine Cesnik and Joyce Malecki Facebook page is digging up. According to Facebook user/A+ sleuth Philip Babineaux, Maskell attended the all-boys Calvert Hall College High School from 1957 to 1958. Maskell attended the school at the same time as then-chaplain Joseph A. Davies, who was charged with sex abuse crimes in the 1980s. Davis died in 1992, and further allegations have been made against him since he passed, as more victims felt able to come forward. Whether or not this might have been the root of Maskell's abuse is completely and entirely speculative. Calvert Hall College High School still exists today, and has a wing named after Joseph A. Davies, who was made Monsignor Davis at the time of his death.
7. More Survivors Have Come Forward
Since the series aired, Hoskins confirmed through the Facebook page that 12 more victims have come forward and entered legal mitigation with the Baltimore Archdiocese. 8 of those have filed reports with the Baltimore City P.D. She also urges those to have been abused by Maskell or Magnus to come forward, saying that the police are ready to listen. They join the 30 men and women who testified in 1994 during the Jane Doe/Jane Roe lawsuit, plus several who have come forward since then.
As you can see, this case if far from over. While there are currently no plans for a second series of The Keepers, you can be sure that this case will be puzzling true crime fans for years to come.