DNA offers no clue in nun's death

Sister Catherine Cesnik's death has haunted investigators for decades, but now a Netflix documentary and a twist in the real-life murder investigation have brought it to the forefront.
 
 
On the eve of a docuseries examining the unsolved murder of Cesnik back in 1969, police in Baltimore County decided to take a closer look at one potential suspect, former priest Joseph Maskell, who died in 2001, and that meant exhuming his body.
 
“Maskell is someone that many people believe had something to do with the murder of Cathy Cesnik and we felt that it was a box that needed to be checked to determine whether his DNA matched the DNA from the crime scene," said Elise Armacost with the Baltimore County Police Department.
 
At the time of Cesnik's death, Maskell was not a suspect, but all of that changed in the early 90s when he was accused of molesting female students at Archbishop Keough High School years earlier and some began to speculate that he may have murdered the nun to keep her from exposing him at the time.
 
DNA testing was also in its infancy, and detectives had hoped advances in technology now could provide a match that wasn't possible then.
 
"There is not a match. So what does that mean? It does not necessarily mean that he is exonerated any more than it means that the other suspects whose DNA we have compared are exonerated," said Armacost.
 
 
While the mystery behind Cesnik's death has been the subject of countless news stories over the decades, the recent movement in the case and the Netflix special prompted Archbishop William Lori to release a two-page letter outlining the Archdiocese of Baltimore's actions over the last 48 years in which he states, “No criminal charges were ever filed in connection with Sister Cathy's death or the allegations of abuse.”
 
For their part, police say with the DNA testing complete, there is no forensic aspect of the case left to explore.  
 
They must now rely upon any witnesses who still survive to come forward with conclusive information, if they're ever going to be able to solve this case.  
 
Print this article Back to Top