Editor’s note: Warning, this article contains information about abuse and violent crime some readers may find disturbing.
In 1969, a 26-year-old nun named Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik vanished.
Then, two months later, her body was found near a garbage dump. She had been brutally murdered—choked and beaten to death.
To this day, no one knows who killed Sister Cathy.
Netflix just released their latest true-crime docuseries, and like the breakout hit Making a Murderer, the show revolves around a mysterious homicide; but, unlike the case of Steven Avery, this show deals with corruption at high levels of the Church.
For decades, the mystery surrounding the death of Sister Cesnik has haunted officials in Baltimore, but recent details—some uncovered this year in a new journalistic investigation—point to some extremely disturbing possibilities: The young nun may have been murdered because she was preparing to expose a horrific pattern of sexual abuse and even sex trafficking perpetrated by priests and involving law enforcement.
A priest at the Archbishop Kenough High School, where Sister Cesnik had been a teacher, had been accused of sexually abusing young students. The victims say that the priest trafficked the young girls to local men—including police officers in the area—who raped them.
Being young and well-liked, the students confided in Sister Cathy. As one of the victims, Teresa Lancaster, told Baltimore’s WJZ, “She confronted him and she lost her life for it.” Lancaster also says that one of the men who arranged for officers to rape her was a police chaplain: “He knew people in high places—that’s how they got away with it.”
According to reports, Cathy promised to help the young victims, but because she threatened to expose the pedophilia ring, she was murdered.
Another one of the victims said that after the murder—and before the body was discovered—that a chaplain actually drove her to Sister Cathy’s corpse, and said, “You see what happens when you say bad things about people?”
To this day, the murder officially remains unsolved, despite women who say they too were victims of abuse at the school coming forward. And this new show promises to bring the cover-up to light.
The seven-part series is part of a new trend of true crime podcasts, documentaries and TV shows that have higher ambitions than simply creating “entertainment” out of real life tragedies.
In some cases, like with The Keepers, they are attempting to expose real-life injustice and finally solve crimes that have tragically gone unpunished.