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Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik

Homicide Victim, 1970

Photo of unsolved homicide victim Sister Catherine Cesnik.On January 3, 1970, the decomposed body of Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik was discovered at a dumping area on Monumental Avenue in Halethorpe, 21227. Sister Cesnik had been reported as a missing person on November 7, 1969, from her residence at the Carriage House Apartments in Baltimore City, 21229. At the time of her disappearance, Sister Cesnik was on a sabbatical from the Roman Catholic Church and was teaching at Western High School in Baltimore City. She was last seen just before leaving her apartment to run errands in the Edmondson Village Shopping Center.

Detectives believe the suspect accosted Sister Cesnik in front of her residence as she was returning from the store and forced her back into her car. She was driven to Monumental Avenue where she was assaulted and murdered. Her car was recovered in the early morning hours of November 8, 1969, parked within walking distance of her residence.

Former Priest's DNA Was Not a Match

Allegations of sexual abuse were first made against Father A. Joseph Maskell in 1992 by two former female students of Archbishop Keough High School, where Sister Cesnik had also worked. These allegations fall under the jurisdiction of Baltimore City Police and are investigated by them.

At the time, Maskell was not considered a prime suspect in Sister Cesnik's murder, but was interviewed at length. He later died in 2001.

In February 2017, detectives secured an order to exhume Maskell’s body from a local cemetery to obtain a DNA sample for comparison with the known sample. The DNA sample taken from the remains of former priest A. Joseph Maskell did not match DNA from the murder scene of Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik. The Baltimore County Police Department (BCoPD) received these results from an accredited laboratory excluding Maskell as a contributor to DNA preserved from the crime scene.

Maskell was not the first suspect whose DNA had been compared to the crime scene sample. Over the years, BCoPD detectives have developed DNA profiles of about a half dozen suspects and compared them against the crime scene evidence. None of these suspects’ profiles have matched.

Also, the DNA profile from the crime scene evidence was placed into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) as soon as it was developed. There have been no matches of the Cesnik crime scene DNA profile with any DNA profile from the national database.

The fact that the DNA profiles of the various suspects have not matched the crime scene evidence does not necessarily exonerate them; it means only that the DNA technology available at this time has not provided evidence of a physical link to the crime scene.

Media Release and Case Timeline

Review the BCoPD’s media release and case timeline (updated May 2017) for more information.

Police Still Seek Leads

The street where Sister Cesnik's body was found.The field where Sister Cesnik's body was found.

Homicide detectives say the negative results from the Maskell DNA profile comparison mean that their best hope for solving the case now lies with people who are still alive and willing to come forward with conclusive information about the murder.

Reward Offered

Anyone with information regarding this case may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000. 

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