Exhumed Priest Corpse Could Solve Cold Case Of Murdered Nun

The priest was accused of sexually assualting over a dozen high school students. One of those students claimed he showed her the nun's body as a way to keep her silent.

By Gina Tron

The exhumation of a Catholic priest's body may help solve a decades old cold case murder of a nun.

According to CNN, the Baltimore County Police opened the grave of Rev. A. Joseph Maskell in February and took DNA samples from his corpse. The DNA is being checked against a DNA profile developed from evidence taken in 1970 from the decomposed body of Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik. Her body had been found by a father and son who were out hunting. The 26-year-old nun had been missing for almost two months.

The current team of cold case detectives assigned to Cesnik’s case in 2016, began discussing the exhumation of Maskell almost immediately. However, according to the report, it took time to get proper authorization.

Maskell was a priest who was accused in the 1990s of sexually assaulting young women, at least 16, while serving as a chaplain at Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore. Several students had filed a lawsuit alleging physical and sexual abuse by Maskell throughout the 1960s and 1970s, according to the report.

In 1994 one of the students who claimed abuse by Maskell when she was in high school claimed that he took her to a remote dumping area and showed her Cesnik's decaying body to warn her what would happen if she told anyone about the abuse.

Joanne Suder, an attorney for several of Maskell's sexual abuse victims, said, "If law enforcement, in general, had done their job back in 1970, they'd have brought Maskell in then and this would have all been necessary in 2017."

Maskell was never charged. When he was removed from the ministry he fled to Ireland for a while.

Sister Cesnik was considered a popular young nun who taught English and drama, according to the Huffington Post.


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