Law Enforcement Officials in Maryland Are Now Studying Six Unsolved Murders with “Possible Links” To Sex Abuse At a Former Girls’ Catholic High School in Baltimore City

—All six of the still-unsolved killings may be connected
to rapes by two “serial abuser-priests” at former Archbishop Keough High School, investigators say.

“That’s beyond coincidence – something’s going on.”
–A Top Maryland Law Enforcement Official, July 2017

By Tom Nugent

BALTIMORE – More than four decades after the still-unsolved murder of a Baltimore nun who was reportedly killed while attempting to blow the whistle on widespread sexual abuse at her Catholic girls’ high school, law enforcement officials in Maryland say they’re concerned about new findings that may link six different unsolved murders to two priests who were involved in the abuse during the late 1960s and much of the 1970s.

“This [new information] is deeply troubling and it absolutely should be checked out,” said one former high-ranking law enforcement investigator in Maryland recently, after reviewing the new findings by Inside Baltimore. Added the now-retired officer: “As a former investigator, I’m concerned that there may be a pattern here which points to involvement by the abusing priests.”

Another top law enforcement official in Maryland said after learning about new information related to the cold cases: “That’s beyond coincidence – something’s going on and these unsolved murders should be reviewed carefully.”

Three of the unsolved murder victims were teenaged girls and another was a 14-year-old boy. The nun was 26 at the time of her death, and Joyce Malecki was only 20 years old when she died.  Malecki’s still-unsolved murder took place only a few days after the disappearance of Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik in November of 1969.

All but one of the killings, which occurred between 1969 and 1981, involved victims with alleged ties to two priests involved in the abuse – Father A. Joseph Maskell and Father Edward Neil Magnus, both of whom taught at the former Archbishop Keough High School in southwest Baltimore – or to two Catholic Baltimore-area parishes (St. Clement in Lansdowne and Our Lady of Victory in Catonsville) where Maskell served or lived frequently for many of the years during the 11-year period of the unsolved murders.

Recently described in a seven-part, Emmy Award-nominated documentary (The Keepers) that was shown on Netflix, the murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik took place after she disappeared on November 7, 1969. The body of the second victim, 20-year-old Joyce Malecki – who had been Father Maskell’s parishioner for many years and went to confession and attended summer Bible camps with him – was found dead in a creek at the Fort George G. Meade U.S. Army base six days later.

Father Maskell, who died at age 62 on May 7, 2001, reportedly served as a military chaplain at Fort Meade for several years.

The Malecki cold case was complicated by the fact that the FBI – which is charged with solving murders on U.S. military bases – told this reporter in 2004 that it had “never investigated” the Malecki killing and had “no records at all” related to any investigation of the case by the FBI. (To read a City Paper story about the Cesnik and Malecki murders: http://www.citypaper.com/blogs/the-news-hole/bcpnews-who-killed-sister-cathy-one-of-maryland-s-coldest-murder-cases-heats-up-20170504-story.html.)

But about three years ago, in response to a Freedom of Information request, the FBI reportedly confirmed that it had actually compiled thousands of pages of investigative materials related to the Malecki murder over the years – and then reportedly promised to release them publicly.

As of today, however, almost three years later, nearly 6,000 pages of FBI documents related to the unsolved murder of Joyce Malecki have still not been released, according to sources.

Meanwhile, new information related to four other unsolved killings from that era – all of them involving teenagers – has left cold case investigators asking themselves if the murders might be connected . . . and if they might also be related to the sexual abuse that was taking place at Archbishop Keough High School and several other Baltimore area Catholic parochial schools and churches during that period.

Only a few months ago, a special cold-case task force organized by the Baltimore County Police Department announced publicly that it was reviewing the unsolved murders of two Baltimore-area teenagers in the early 1970s to see if they are linked to Father Maskell’s widely reported sexual abuse at Keough and elsewhere.  (To read a Washington Post story about the cases: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/true-crime/wp/2017/05/05/police-exhume-body-of-priest-as-they-investigate-1969-slaying-of-baltimore-nun/?utm_term=.98ebc04e02a3.)

One of those unsolved murders – the September 1971 slaying of 16-year-old Grace Elizabeth Montanye, whose body was found behind a Catholic Church in South Baltimore after she was reportedly abducted and then killed – has been complicated by the fact that a former Baltimore City Police Department homicide detective told this reporter in 1993 that his 1970s efforts to solve the Montanye murder had been blocked by police officials who were covering the murder up in order to “protect someone”.

According to the now-deceased police investigator, whose story appeared in a 1993 edition of Baltimore Magazine, the Baltimore City Police first ordered him to drop the investigation of the Montanye murder . . . and when he refused to do so, punished him by requiring him to take early retirement because he had been found to be “overzealous” in his efforts to solve the case.

While confirming publicly that they have been re-investigating Grace Montanye’s death in recent months to see if she might have been linked to Father Maskell, the Baltimore County Police task force has also been reviewing the still-unsolved murder of 16-year-old Pamela Lynn Conyers in October of 1970. That Anne Arundel County murder featured an abduction and many of the same physical characteristics that marked the Cesnik, Malecki and Montanye murders, according to police, and the time frame also raised questions about possible links to priestly sexual abuse.

More recently, law enforcement officials in Maryland say they’ve begun looking at two additional unsolved murders of teenagers with circumstantial links to two Catholic churches where Father Maskell lived or preached during the era when the killings took place.

Killed in 1975 was 14-year-old Francis (“Danny”) Crocetti, a Catholic altar boy for many years, whose body was found in a wooded area only a short distance from Our Lady of Victory Church and parochial school. Crocetti had reportedly been stabbed to death with an icepick. Father Maskell served at Our Lady of Victory Church and lived at the church rectory from 1968 to 1970, according to the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He also visited other priests frequently at Our Lady of Victory during the years leading up to the Crocetti killing, while living during much of that time at St. Clement, according to numerous witnesses.

Six years after the Crocetti teenager died, a 13-year old girl named Heather Porter, whose family lived in Lansdowne and reportedly attended St. Clement Church, was abducted and killed.

Her body was found the next day, strangled and stabbed, in a wooded area near Goucher Boulevard in the north Baltimore suburb of Towson. That still-unsolved killing took place in September of 1981.

While police investigators have not ruled out coincidence as the link that connects all six of these unsolved killings, they also say it seems highly unlikely to account for the mysterious deaths – based on their many years of experience as investigators.

“That’s beyond coincidence,” said one veteran Maryland law enforcement official, when asked about the likelihood that five different unsolved murders (Cesnik, Malecki, Montanye, Crocetti and Porter) would all involve victims with alleged ties to Father Maskell or the two Catholic churches (St. Clement in Lansdowne and Our Lady of Victory in Catonsville) where Maskell often lived and/or worked during the period when the killings took place.

The possibility of a police cover-up of the six unsolved killings has also complicated the investigation of these six murders, say experts. In recent months, several witnesses have told the Baltimore news media that they were raped by policemen, as well as by Catholic priests, during the period in which most of the killings took place.

Said one retired Maryland law enforcement official who is familiar with the case: “I think the fact that all of the murders remain unsolved to this day – and that they seem to have so many similarities and links to priestly sex abuse – is very troubling.

“All these killings should be checked out, to see if there’s a pattern here.”

 

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44 responses

  1. Hello I grew up in the same area as Gay Montanye. I remember the murder very well. It was a scary time for all of us young girls. At first they thought it was a teacher at our school But he still teaching. It wasn’t him Now, Gay Montanye went to sacred heart catholic Church in Reisterstown. She was in a beauty contest call the missed Reisterstown teen pageant Everybody thought she was going to win. She was so pretty. However, she went to public school in high school. Her dream was to become a model. Tom just like everybody else, we just want the stuff solved, before we pass away It should’ve been solved along time ago. Thank you so much for your Outlook and perseverance. We all thank you for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I cannot understand how the documents requested through the Freedom of Information Act can be delayed for three years. Isn’t there any legal recourse to get those documents released NOW?

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  3. Once again tom your the man . Proves without a doubt the priest and police were involed. To kill six people especially teenagers shows how afraid they were. Or they took it to another level in their. Sick heads . I still say get in the 2 rectorys and tear them apart. Great work tomj

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  4. If my memory serves me correctly the body of Grace Montayne was found in a dump in between Lakeland & Mt Winans off of Hollins Ferry Rd. One of the 2 boys that found her body lived 3 doors from me.

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  5. You provide no facts. What are these connections? Also who are these unnamed sources. This piece will be much more credible if we had names, dates, and something more than what appears to be conjecture.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I completely agree with you – sources are seriously lacking. I can’t find anything about a 1975 murder of a boy in the Catonsville/Arbutus area. With all of these accusations and theories being tossed around, there should be evidence other than “unnamed sources” and statements made ~25 years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thisisthebestthing: Wow, you cannot find anything about Francis “Danny” Crocetti being murdered so that means it didn’t happen? What a horrible thing to say. His family was completely devastated, especially at the manner in which Danny was killed. Since you are so unfamiliar with the story, let me clue you in…the police insist that major evidence was “lost” in Hurricane Agnes…how convenient. The unnamed sources are victims of Maskell, they are unnamed for their own protection. And to all of you reading this, ONE woman had repressed memory; the many other victims did not. I attended Archbishop Keough; I witnessed the strange behavior of the abused girls whose personalities changed completely while suffering the torture of very evil men.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad to see others who are as bothered by the lack of details as I am. The entire series was like this; a lot of relevant information withheld or glossed over; claims and allegations presented as factual but with no corroboration. The range of 30 to 100 women coming forward, for instance — the “100” given by an anonymous source, and even the lower numbers were only an estimate. No way to fact-check, no way to come up with a solid number, no way to determine how many of these were credible. Yes, I get that evidence was lost but if we’re to accept these heinous allegations, checking sources is vitally important. This was during the height of the Recovered Memory era, in the middle of a modern-day hysteria which resulted in many people being falsely accused and wrongfully imprisoned as a result of accusations exactly like these, and in similar contexts.

      Baltimore, for decades, has been notorious for it’s high rate of violent crime, far above the national average. It is tragic that these adolescents had their lives stolen from them, but six murders over a span of 11 years really isn’t so shocking.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I remember Danny Crocetti’s murder very well because for a few days after some classmates of ours thought I might have had something to do with it. He was my friend and classmate from 1st – 7th grade at St. Joseph’s Monastery School. We were both troublemakers and got in a lot of trouble together, but just typical grade school pranks. In 7th grade we got in a couple big fights because we became sort of rivals toward the end. But it didn’t take too long for my classmates to realize I was not involved. I have to say, I felt a little awkward at the funeral with some of my classmates giving me dirty looks. The murder was not in Catonsville/Arbutus. Danny lived in Yale heights. If I remember correctly the body was found in an area we used to call Seven Hills. Stabbed over 100 times with an ice pick. At the time, the rumor was it was it was local drug dealers who killed him for trying to rip them off. No idea where that rumor started.

      St Joseph’s Monastery merged with St. Benedict’s in 1973-1974 so our 8th Grade class split up into different schools. I went to Catonsville Junior High for a year and I guess Danny ended up at Our Lady of Victory. Two of my older sisters went to Archbishop Keough and had Maskell as their counselor. One of my sister’s friends Mary Alice Combs committed suicide. Some other ones didn’t fair so well either but they’re still alive so I’ll leave them out of this.

      Also, my brother and his fiancee lived in the 3rd floor apt. above Sr. Cathy in the Carriage House Apts. I used to stop by there sometimes on my way home from Monastery and later Mt.St Joe (Irvington) to Catonsville (Paradise), where I lived. I remember when Sr. Cathy was found dead and when we were told that a creepy pervert was hanging around Rock Glen school next to the Carriage House apts on North Bend Rd.

      Anyway, point is, the Danny Crocetti murder was very real and left unsolved and as far as i know un-investigated because we never heard another word about it after the funeral. Crickets. Always seemed a little suspicious to me, but that’s growing up in Bodymore, Murdaland. You get used to it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Will T My huge Irish Catholic family all attended the Monastery as well. We remember the Crocetti’s from Yale Heights. We were on Yale Ave across from St Joe. You and I know how close these neighborhoods were – like a small town. I believe there are many connections to the southwest area stretching all the way to South Baltimore. My hope was that this documentary would begin to reveal clues to those of us who know these people. Unfortunetly, those controlling the information had no idea how deep our neighborhoods were connected so things were sat on for 2 years. Watch what you say and who you say it to. I can put you in touch with a credible investigator who has been working with Tom if you like. Contact me through PM on Facebook.

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  6. Thank you Tom for true investigating reporting. As a supporter of my cousin and all Survivors, we appreciate your efforts of moving this forward. People are so clueless as to the depth and breadth of this network. You would have had to live in these neighborhoods to even understand how all of this is connected. Peace my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Law Enforcement needs to get a court order to force the Archdiocese of Baltimore to hand over its files on these and other priest abusers; otherwise, I think the Archdiocese might find itself in the position of being an accessory to murder.

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    • Just a thought: Trump signed an executive order allowing tax-exempt churches to step over certain lines formerly restrictive in accordance with separation of church and state. While the purpose was alleged to be so these churches could openly promote political points of views…

      1. What does an exec order actually allow? Does it make it law?

      2. If yes…can’t this void that church state thing, which a church may say is unfair and burdensome but in fact has protected the church in cases of pedophilia and other crimes?

      3. Can it all result in giving the police or FBI the ability to execute search warrants on the AOB?

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      • I was a federal employee for over two decades, responding to your questions.

        1) Executive Orders. An EO is focused on federal agency laws, policies, and procedures, but “trickles down” into other governmental (State, County, Municipal) areas where they intersect with those federal institutions. EOs are ONLY IN EFFECT for the term of the president that signs them, unless they are specifically continued, usually with a “new” order from the current president, but sometimes simply by *not* rescinding them. (This is a broad summary.)

        2) The “church-state” CONSTITUTIONALLY does NOT EXEMPT members of religious organizations (and the organizations that train, employ, and coordinate the duties of those members) from being prosecuted for civil crimes. It principally restricts the use of religious language in the development of legal codes; the use of government funds to promote religious activities; and using governmental force to deny the practice of religious beliefs.

        3) The DOJ (FBI, ATF, and related units) can execute search warrants for federal crimes and civil crimes committed on federal property. State and Local Law Enforcement are also charged with the investigation and prosecution of crimes in their jurisdictions (and can request support from national resources such as fingerprint and DNA databases).

        Apparently, (as relayed in The Keepers) personal and professional networks maintained a priority to protect the reputations (and benefit of knowing) priests, police officers, and possibly public officials. My guess is that all much of that can be explained “neutrally” as misapplied procedures and may be extended to maintaining a sense of community well-being (where families would withdraw support of the agency/church). NONETHELESS, wherever personal power and self-interest combine to create and maintain a hierarchy of authority, situations will be manipulated to benefit those who hold power. Oddly, that last sentence applies to everything from the 1776 War for Independence to Watergate to the sales manager whose next bonus is a new car. The question is, what tips the balance of power to justice for those whose lives are irreparably damaged because of that power?

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        • Addendum to #1: The “force of law” in an Exec Order is within the federal agency where the order is directed. The “trickle down” occurs when the agency uses the EO to control the actions of State, local, and municipal organizations that receive their benefits. For example, following the EO requiring federal crime prevention agencies to increase enforcement against “transnational criminal organizations,” several MD communities declared that they would not independently act against individuals who might be undocumented. This does not prevent federal agencies from conducting activities in those jurisdictions. There are a number of consequences unfolding around how local governments’ must comply in those cases.

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  8. Thank you Tom for continuing your efforts, which hopefully will some day lead to the AOB being held accountable for allowing the abuse to occur and continue over so many years. Just want to clarify that Our Lady of Victory is located in Arbutus, not Catonsville. St Marks school and parish are in Catonsville.

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  9. The reason these murders where covered up? The customers of the sex ring involved politicians. They controlled the police. The FBI is not cooperating because they are controlled by politicians. Look at the high office of Baltimore in those times and before. The same family controlled the city for decades. One member charged for rape of 11 and 13 year old girls. Got off due to family power. It doesn’t take much to see this picture unless you don’t want to.

    Like

  10. Great work by tom nugent who really is the guy that started this a long time ago. The ladies have been vindicated due to his hard work which has allowed others to help also.tom always does things the right way.and is able to keep quiet about it.im sure he will have more for us later

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  11. A bright light is being focused on the Catholic Church and some corrupt members of the Baltimore Police at that time. Thanks to the WORLDWIDE web, this is way beyond Baltimore, folks. There is no more hiding. The people will demand answers and God, working through his people, will provide them in time, and that time is fast approaching.

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  12. I have been a big proponent of going in both rectorys maskell lived. In mainly to find hi hidden information probably pictures . If any body has any of this stuff please send half to tv stations. Because they would probably be lost again if all handed in. Going to bed. One of you people out there do the right thing send in the info. Before you pass. Taking it to the grave is bad for your soul and next life if there is one

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  13. Keep up the pressure and the dogged reporting, Tom. Thank you for all the hard work — to those asking for source names, is it curiosity or something more malevolent. If they are talking to police, that’s the important part. Solving this case may have far wider implications that just a couple of dead priests.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. OH yes, more than dead priests, we need this finished so all those who suffer can have closure….let it all out, all those involved need to face us, as they will face their maker……

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  15. I say you people who are bashing the reporting have not a clue. These cases are under investigation when all comes together then you will see the complete story. Until then have some cheese with your wine.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Serious question for anyone catholic reading this article or is even remotely disturbed by the allegations on The Keepers:

    Will you keep going to church and will you keep giving the church money?

    It’s frustrating to read people say “justice, justice, justice” and then turn around and hypocritically give money on Sunday and wash away their alleged sins in confession.

    Fact: If you want change. If you want information. If you want to lessen the power and influence…there is only ONE way:

    STOP GOING TO CHURCH. STOP GIVING MONEY.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you Tom for your continued reporting. Unnamed sources are unnamed for many reasons. Those who doubt the reporting or the series on Netflix – more will be revealed. No one can imagine the terror of being “outed” as a victim of sexual abuse, or the purveyor of information that could cast guilt on an individual or the fear of retribution. If you’ve never experienced a violent horrible act or being subjected to criminal investigation you do not know what can go wrong or right. Contempt prior to investigation must be curbed. Question – yes. But contempt and/or anger against those who frightened to be named or wish to remain anonymous is wrong. My mother always said, “keep an open mind. Don’t judge others and do the right thing.”

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  18. Somebody needs to do some serious investigating of this whole church scandal and now before time passes on this is just awful what happened 6 people murdered come on somebody knows something wake up FBI and do something

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Donna Porpora – Thank you for breaking that down for us. Money + power = control and supercedes everything else. Very few powerful people are ethical anymore. We only have to look at the elite politicians and business people to see how true that is.

    Liked by 1 person

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