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Priest's Body Exhumed As Part Of Decades Old Baltimore Nun Murder Investigation

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- Nearly 50 years ago, the body of Sister Cathy Cesnik was found in a ditch.

For months, WJZ has been investigating the case that's haunted the community.

Baltimore County Police revealed only to WJZ that they've dug up the body of a powerful priest who has long been suspected in Cesnik's death, to get his DNA.

In January of 1970, the decomposed body of 26-year-old Cathy Cesnik was discovered in a field in Lansdowne.

It's a murder that's gone unsolved for decades. A recent WJZ investigation revealed that many women who were sexually abused by Father Joseph Maskell, believed that sister Cathy was killed because she was about to blow the whistle on his dirty secret.

"She confronted him and she lost her life for it," Teresa Lancaster said.

In the 60's and 70's, Father Maskell, a counselor at Archbishop Keough High School, was accused of molesting dozens of students, mostly women.

Many of those victims, including Lancaster, have told WJZ they confided in Sister Cathy just before her death.

"Sister Cathy went to Father Maskell on behalf of the girls who were being abused," Lancaster said. "I think it's obscene that not more was done about this murder."

Baltimore County Police, in February, said they were once again conducting interviews in the case.

County police have exhumed the body of Maskell from where he was buried in 2001. They want his DNA to compare with evidence in Sister Cathy's case.

"Maskell was a player in this scenario that we needed to take a look at so," said Elise Armacost of the Baltimore County Police. "This was a step that we needed to take."

After all of this time, the light may finally be about to shine on one of the darkest chapters in Baltimore history, something Maskell's victims, like Debbie Yohn, have been waiting for, for more than 40 years.

"There are still women in Baltimore that are terrorized by the events of back then and I want them to know that they don't have to be anymore," Yohn said.

Father Maskell went to his grave denying the horrific allegations against him. He was never charged.

It will take four to six weeks before police know whether Maskell's DNA matches the evidence. WJZ will continue to investigate this story and bring you every development.

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