DNA Results Revealed as Netflix Revisits Nun's Murder

DNA at scene of Catherine Cesnik's murder doesn't match Rev. Joseph Maskell: cops
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2017 8:00 AM CDT

The murder of a nun shook Baltimore in 1969. Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik disappeared in November of that year before her body turned up in a field in January with blunt force trauma to the head. The murder remains unsolved, though a seven-part Netflix documentary series out Friday points the finger at Rev. A. Joseph Maskell, a counselor and chaplain at a high school where Cesnik taught. Some say he killed the 26-year-old after students told her about sexual abuse they'd suffered at Maskell's hands, reports the Baltimore Sun. Baltimore police have also explored this theory: On Feb. 28, Maskell's body was exhumed (he died in 2001) to see if his DNA matched a sample from the crime scene, per CNN. On Wednesday, police said it did not.

That doesn't mean Maskell wasn't involved, only that current forensic technology can't provide a link, says a police rep. But Cesnik's former students hope Netflix's The Keepers will lead to tips, and ultimately a resolution. The series explores the power of the Catholic Church at the time, particularly over police, but centers on Jean Wehner, who claimed in 1994 that Maskell showed her Cesnik's body before it was officially discovered. By that time, Maskell had resigned and fled to Ireland as abuse allegations against him mounted, per the Sun. He was never charged with abuse, though the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore eventually paid $472,000 to 16 victims. Before his death, Maskell denied the abuse and any involvement in Cesnik's murder. (A 1970 murder case was just reopened.)

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