Baltimore Witness Says She Was Shown Body of Murdered Nun by Abuser-Priest

 

Retired Cop Confirms 2 Witnesses Also Reported
“Death Threats” from the Later-Defrocked Cleric

“I Wiped Maggots from Her Face,” Recalls
Former Student at Baltimore Catholic School

Archdiocese Paid $40,000 to a Second Abuse Victim
For Injuries Dead Nun Allegedly Sought to Prevent

 

By Tom Nugent

[Editor’s Note: The two poems at the end of the following story are published with the permission of the author, who signed them as: “Jean Hargadon Wehner, Survivor.”]

November 2014 – After remaining anonymous for more than 40 years, a Baltimore woman has come forward to identify herself as a witness who was “shown the dead body of Sister Cathy” Cesnik by a Catholic priest who was allegedly involved in the nun’s murder as a way to keep her from reporting his sexual abuse of students at a Catholic high school in the city.

Jean Hargadon Wehner, known only as “Jane Doe” during a controversial 1994 lawsuit that sought to collect $40 million in damages resulting from alleged rampant sexual abuse at Archbishop Keough High School in the late 1960s and early 1970s, said she was taken to a garbage dump in Lansdowne by the alleged abuser-priest in the late fall of 1969.

The isolated and difficult to find dump was located only half a mile from the St. Clement Roman Catholic Church in Lansdowne, where the alleged – and later defrocked – abuser-priest served as pastor for several years.

“When [the now-deceased pastor, Father A. Joseph] Maskell told me he would take me to Cathy [murder victim Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik, a former English teacher and drama coach at the high school], he led me to believe she was still alive,” said Wehner.  “I had no idea where we were going.  As I walked around a corner, I saw her on the ground.  I ran over, bent down, and began wiping maggots off her face.

“As I stared at my hands in shock, Maskell leaned over and whispered in my ear: ‘You see what happens when you say bad things about people?’”

Wehner, one of two plaintiffs in the 1990s lawsuit, said she had decided to come forward at this time because other former Keough students have also been speaking out about the alleged abuse in recent months – and because her own healing process has now reached the point where she can talk more openly about the years of abuse she allegedly endured at the former Catholic girls high school in southwest Baltimore during the late 1960s.

The plaintiffs in the widely reported 1994 lawsuit – eventually dismissed on a legal technicality after a Baltimore court ruled that the “statute of limitations” for bringing such a suit had been exceeded – charged that they had been required to endure sexual abuse at the hands of the priest, including rape, and that the abuse had sometimes taken place at gunpoint.  They also said in the lawsuit that they had been forced to submit to abuse from police officers who were friends of the priest.

Wehner’s astonishing details about her visit to the dead nun’s body at the garbage dump in Lansdowne are powerfully supported by comments from Baltimore police, as reported in a front-page story in the Baltimore Sun on June 19, 1994.

“In interviews with police and the Sun,” wrote two Baltimore Sun reporters, “she [Wehner] provided details about the body that were known only to investigators at the time, and detectives have not dismissed her claims.”

In addition, the autopsy on the murder victim’s body disclosed the presence of maggots in the throat, according to the 1994 story – a finding that appears to support Wehner’s description of “wiping maggots” from the victim’s face.

The tangled Cesnik cold case took another amazing twist last month, when Inside Baltimore reported that Wehner’s co-plaintiff in the lawsuit – Baltimore attorney Teresa Lancaster, known as “Jane Roe” in the lawsuit – had received a $40,000 payment three years ago from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, in return for signing a “release” in which she agreed not to seek further payment for abuse-related damages in the future.

The agreement pointed out that the term “Conduct” in the agreement refers “to all activities by or at the direction of Maskell” – and then noted that “it is acknowledged and agreed that the payment of the amounts set forth herein is compensation for bodily physical injuries arising from the Conduct.”

According to Lancaster, herself an attorney, the language of the agreement is “crystal-clear,” and when coupled with a letter of apology the Archdiocese also sent to her, “is an admission by the Archdiocese that the sexual abuse took place.”

Another alleged abuse victim, who did not wish to be identified, also told Inside Baltimore that she had been offered a large cash payment in return for signing a release.

(The Office of Communications at the Archdiocese of Baltimore did not respond to several telephone messages and emails which asked how many similar payoffs have so far been made to other victims of the alleged abuse.)

Lancaster also said that a high-ranking Baltimore law enforcement official who was involved in investigating the alleged Keough abuse in the 1990s told her during an interview that “we know the priest was involved” in Sister Cathy’s murder in November of 1969, “but there’s nothing we can do about it.”

In addition, a former School Sisters of Notre Dame nun has said she was told by two Baltimore County detectives in the mid-1990s that “we know the priest killed the nun” . . . and a retired high-ranking Baltimore police official has recently confirmed that two witnesses told police investigators in a formal statement that the alleged abuser-priest had made death threats in their presence when they visited the nun’s apartment.

Sister Cathy was abducted one day after their alleged visit to her apartment.  The nun’s badly decayed body was discovered at the Lansdowne garbage dump by two hunters on January 3rd of 1970.

Jean Wehner said that she decided to speak out now because she wants to help provide support to other people who may be able to provide information about the Cesnik case.

“The reason I clarified my experience was so anyone having similar details will feel supported,” she said.  “I am concerned for the other survivors.  Hopefully, if they have any new information, they will contact the [Baltimore County Police Department Cold Case] detective and tell him.”

[To reach Detective Dave Jacoby of the Baltimore County Police Department cold case unit, call 410-887-3943 or email him at djacoby@baltimorecountymd.gov.  Detective Jacoby has said he welcomes any new information about Sister Cathy Cesnik’s murder, including information that is provided anonymously.]

Wehner said she has struggled for many years to deal with the emotional impact of being taken to the dump and shown the nun’s body as a warning to her about what would happen if she spoke out about the abuse.

Part of the healing process, she said, has been to write poetry about her painful experience.  In one poem, for example, she tried to describe what it feels like to have a gun held to your head during a sexual-abuse incident.  That poem is titled The Gun.

 

The Gun

The gun is

on the table.

The table is between him and me.

The gun is

on the table.

Then it is in his hands.

I look at the gun.

Do I see him?

Do I see anything but the gun?

I see the bullets,

one by one…

removed and placed

on the table.

One then the other…

until all six are

on the table.

What does he look like?

Is he even there?

The gun is small and dark grey,

the holes empty.

The gun is held by a hand

next to my head.

It feels cold.

Is he speaking?

I can’t hear anything

over the deafening sound

of the click of the trigger!

 Jean Hargadon Wehner

Survivor

 

In a second poem, Wehner described her continuing efforts to heal psychologically from her experience at Keough.

 

Forgive Myself

I forgive myself!

I forgive myself for…

What others did to me.

What others made me feel like.

What others made me believe.

What others made me do.

What I’ve done to survive.

What others made me do.

I forgive myself!

I forgive myself for…

Being afraid~

Being afraid~

Being afraid~

Being afraid~

when I needed to be strong

for me.

I forgive myself for being human!

Jean Hargadon Wehner

Survivor

###

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Did the Catholic Church Get Away with Murder?

A KEOUGH HIGH SCHOOL SEX-ABUSE VICTIM,
AWARDED $40K BY ARCHDIOCESE FOR INJURIES,
SAYS POLICE, CHURCH KNOW WHO KILLED NUN

The Abuse Victim, Now a 60-Year-Old Attorney,
Alleges that “Priest and Two Cops” Attacked Her
During Her 4 Years at Baltimore Catholic School

Other Witnesses Detail How Murder of “Sister Cathy”
Occurred as Nun Was Trying to Go Public with Abuse

 

By Tom Nugent

October 2014 – Forty-five years after the murder of a Catholic teaching nun who was reportedly trying to alert authorities to widespread sex abuse at her Catholic high school in Baltimore, a victim of the alleged abuse has come forward to say that Church officials and local police “know the priest was involved” in the murder – but have been engaged in a decades-long cover-up.

Baltimore attorney Teresa Lancaster, now 60, also says she was awarded $40,000 for her abuse-related injuries – along with cost-free psychological counseling – by Church officials four years ago.  She was given the money, she says, in return for signing a release document drawn up by the Archdiocese of Baltimore.  A letter to her from Archdiocesan officials to that effect was reviewed by Inside Baltimore and confirms Ms. Lancaster’s statements about both the award and the terms of the release.

The same Archdiocese of Baltimore sent Ms. Lancaster a letter of apology for the crimes that were reportedly committed against her as a child at Archbishop Keough High School in southwest Baltimore.  The letter to Ms. Lancaster from the Archdiocese of Baltimore Office of Child & Youth Protection Director Alison D’Alessandro and dated December 7, 2010, reads in part as follows:

 

Please accept my apology on behalf of [former] Archbishop [Edwin] O’Brien and the Archdiocese of Baltimore for the suffering that has resulted from your experiences. 

It has long been the policy of the Archdiocese to offer counseling assistance to anyone who may have been harmed by a cleric or other representatives of the Church. . . .

As we discussed, we would like to assist you with counseling services.  We will make payments directly to the counselor of your choice. . . .

I can only imagine how difficult it was for you to speak with me about this.  Again, I am deeply sorry for what has happened.

 

In spite of the compassion and concern displayed in the letter, however, the Archdiocese of Baltimore has never publicly admitted that the Keough sex abuse – now alleged to have affected at least 50 students in the late 1960s and early 1970s – actually took place.

Instead of coming clean about the reported abuse – which has been documented in about 100 police interviews, according to Baltimore law enforcement officials – the Archdiocese of Baltimore vigorously contested a 1994 lawsuit by the victims.  That suit, which sought a total of $40 million in damages, was dismissed on a legal technicality involving the admissibility of “recovered memory” evidence in cases affected by statute-of-limitations restrictions.

“The Catholic Church in Baltimore knew very well in 1994 that the abuse had taken place,” said Ms. Lancaster, while noting that Church officials eventually defrocked the accused priest over it.  “But they went to court anyway and did everything they could to prevent the facts from coming out.  Their legal maneuverings were cynical and despicable – especially when you consider the fact that lives have been destroyed by the abuse.

“As everyone involved knows, there have been suicides and deaths from drug and alcohol addiction that were the direct result of the abuse . . . to say nothing about the broken marriages and the years that were spent in and out of mental institutions and psychotherapy.”

 

Covering Up the Murder of a Nun?

 

While describing the rapes and other sexual assaults she endured at the hands of the alleged abuser-priest – the late Father A. Joseph Maskell, the chaplain at the high school during her years there (1967-71) – Ms. Lancaster said she begged a second priest at the school (the late Father E. Neil Magnus, then the Keough Director of Religious Services) to help her fend off the sexual assaults by Father Maskell.

“I asked Father Magnus in 1970 if he’d be my counselor because I was being sexually abused by Father Maskell,” said Ms. Lancaster.  “But Father Magnus said, ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.  Try to stay away from him.’

“And then he shut his office door in my face.”

After pointing out that “I was afraid of the man [Father Maskell] because he had a gun,” Ms. Lancaster described how the priest was also serving as the chaplain to the Baltimore Police Department, and how he would sometimes take her on “police runs” with policemen and then encourage them to sexually assault her in his presence.

“On one occasion, Halloween night of 1970, I was sexually assaulted by two policemen in uniforms, while Maskell looked on,” she said.  “He also took me to a gynecologist in Towson [Dr. Christian Richter].  While Maskell raped me, the gynecologist felt my breasts.”

Ms. Lancaster said that Father Maskell threatened to have her committed to a Baltimore-area facility for “troubled teenagers” if she refused to submit to the abuse or tried to report it.  “The threat of being locked away was terrifying,” she added.

She also said that a high-ranking Baltimore law enforcement official who was involved in investigating the alleged Keough abuse in 1994 told her during an interview that “we know the priest was involved” in Sister Cathy’s murder in November of 1969, “but there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Ms. Lancaster’s description of the investigator’s comment that “we know the priest was involved” dovetails with numerous other reports from police, Catholic Church and Keough sources  – all of whom have told Inside Baltimore that both the Church and Baltimore-area police have been covering up the murder for decades.

In recent months, for example, a retired high-ranking Baltimore police official confirmed that city police in the 1990s took statements from two students who said they visited Sister Cathy Cesnik’s Baltimore apartment to complain about the abuse only one day before she was abducted on Nov. 7, 1969.

According to the police statements, the two students were surprised when their visit to the nun was interrupted by Father Maskell, who was angry at Sister Cathy and vowed to kill one of the students, if that student reported the ongoing sex abuse at the school.  The nun, who reportedly told a witness that she had given Father Maskell “a couple of days” to resign from his post at the high school or she would report him for abusing the students, was abducted one day later.  Her body wasn’t found until January 3 of 1970.

Those police statements are supported by a now-retired School Sister of Notre Dame nun – Sister Mary Florita of Harrisburg, Pa. – who said: “I knew several of the kids at Keough, and one of them described to me how three or four girls who were being abused by this priest had gone to Sister Cathy for help.”

Sister Mary Florita also said that “two older police detectives” from Baltimore visited her in the mid-1990s and told her “we know the priest was involved in Sister Cathy’s death.”

In addition, a Keough graduate told investigators during the 1994 lawsuit that she had been taken by Father Maskell to a Lansdowne garbage dump where the nun’s body was later found.  There she was warned, she said, that the same thing could happen to her if she reported the sex abuse.

Another veteran Baltimore police officer, now retired, told Inside Baltimore that “several people in the police department” had mentioned “the cover-up on the Cesnik murder” in recent years.  In addition, 1970 Keough graduate Jacalyn Bierman, who spent ten years as a police officer in the Anne Arundel County Police Department, said that when she tried to investigate the nun’s killing on her own, she was told not to ask questions about the case.

“I started digging around in the records, but I was advised by a high-ranking Baltimore City Police Department officer not to ask questions about the case,” Ms. Bierman told Inside Baltimore.  “In my opinion, the odds are 99.999 percent that the priest was involved in Sister Cathy’s murder.”

 

                        

New Evidence Points to Church, Police Cover-Up In Sexual Abuse-Related Murder of Baltimore Nun

 

SECOND MURDER VICTIM, KILLED FOUR DAYS AFTER “SISTER CATHY,”
HAD CLOSE TIES TO PARISH WHERE SEX ABUSE ALSO TOOK PLACE

“After his departure…in 1994 [from a Catholic rectory where he’d been serving as a Baltimore-area parish priest], guns were found in the residence.”

–Sean Caine, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, describing the results of a Church investigation into priestly sexual abuse at Archbishop Keough High School

By Tom Nugent

September 2014 – More than 44 years after Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik was brutally murdered while reportedly attempting to blow the whistle on widespread sexual abuse at her Catholic high school in Baltimore, there is startling new evidence to suggest that she was killed to prevent her from speaking out.

The same evidence sheds new light on the murder of a second victim – 20-year-old Joyce Malecki, whose body was found only a few days after the nun died from a blow to the head.  Increasingly, investigators believe Malecki may also have been killed in an effort to keep Church-related sex abuse hidden from the public.

Obtained during a two-year investigation by this reporter, the new findings also include testimony indicating that one or more local police officers participated in the sex abuse . . . and that both the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore and Baltimore-area police officials then orchestrated a cover-up of the two killings that has lasted for more than four decades.

The new evidence shows that the second murder victim had close ties to the same Catholic parish – St. Clements in Lansdowne, located only a few miles from Archbishop Keough High School in southwest Baltimore – where two Catholic priests who were later defrocked for rampant sexual abuse lived off and on during the period in which the nun was killed.

One of those later-defrocked priests was serving as the chaplain at Keough when the nun (a beloved English teacher and also the drama coach) was abducted and killed on the evening of November 7, 1969.

In recent months, Baltimore police sources have confirmed that Baltimore police took statements (in the early 1990s) from an alleged eyewitness who said that she and a friend were in the murdered nun’s apartment the day before she was killed – and that they had come there to ask her help in reporting the sexual abuse at the high school.   The statements given to police reportedly noted that during the visit to the nun’s apartment, an eventually defrocked abuser-priest – who was the subject of their complaints and the chaplain at the high school – also showed up at the nun’s apartment and seemed intent on discussing an urgent matter with her.

According to the statements taken by police, the priest became angry and threatened to kill one of the visitors if information about the abuse were to become public.

Sister Cathy was killed less than 24 hours later.

These police statements about the visit are supported by a now-retired School Sister of Notre Dame nun – Sister Mary Florita of Harrisburg, Pa., later known by her non-religious name, Marian Weller – who said: “I knew several of the kids at Keough, and one of them described to me how three or four girls who were being abused by this priest had gone to Sister Cathy for help.”

Sister Mary Florita also said that “two older detectives” from the Baltimore County Police Department visited her in the mid-1990s and told her “we know the priest was involved in Sister Cathy’s murder, and we know it happened because she was about to report the sex abuse at the school.”

These are only a few of the startling new findings to emerge recently in the still unsolved murders of the two Baltimore women.  Both killings, long ago relegated to “cold case” status, have not been investigated in significant detail during the past 20 years.

But a recent review of the cases and interviews with more than 20 former Keough students, retired police officials, FBI agents and former Keough High School personnel have uncovered significant links between the two killings. Among the recent disclosures were the following:

—An interview with Joyce Malecki’s older brother, Donald Malecki, reveals that the Malecki family which lived in Lansdowne (only about half a mile from where Cesnik’s body was found), attended the nearby St. Clement Church.  Their home was located only two blocks from the rectory where the two alleged abuser-priests lived for several years during the period when both women were killed.

—The Malecki siblings, including Joyce, also attended week-long “retreats” as high school students, during which they received religious instruction with the defrocked priest who was also the chaplain at Keough, according to Donald Malecki.

—The 1968-’69 Keough yearbookThe Aurora, notes on its “Patrons” page that a gift was made to the school that year by “The Malecki Family.”

Baltimore Archdiocesan records confirm that alleged abuser-priest Father A. Joseph Maskell, whose “faculties were removed” by the Archdiocese after it reviewed dozens of 1970s-era abuse accusations against him in the mid-1990s, “lived and assisted at St. Clement (Lansdowne) while serving [as chaplain] at Archbishop Keough High School.”

—St. Clement Church is located only about half a mile from where Cesnik’s body was found, in a very remote area.  According to a high-ranking Baltimore County Police official who asked not to be identified, “Whoever dumped the nun’s body there had to know the area well. That dump was difficult to get to, if you didn’t know your way around, and the nun did not vanish until after dark.”

–After Joyce Malecki’s body was found in a creek at nearby Ft. Meade, the FBI was assigned the case – since Ft. Meade is a federal reservation.  But the Baltimore office of the FBI told this reporter in 2005 that the Bureau could find no record of an investigation into the Malecki killing.

—When asked about a possible connection between the killings (especially in light of the fact that the Keough chaplain was also chaplain to the Maryland National Guard, headquartered at Ft. Meade), Baltimore-based FBI Special Agent Barry Maddox, now retired, said in 2005 that the Bureau “didn’t actually do the investigation” into Joyce Malecki’s death, but forwarded all of its information to the Anne Arundel County Police Department, so that it could investigate.  But a spokesperson for the Anne Arundel County Police insisted that no investigation had ever taken place and sent the reporter back to the FBI.  Agent Maddox then said that he did not know why there was no record of any law enforcement agency ever investigating Malecki’s death.

But Donald Malecki, Joyce’s brother, says the FBI told him “on several occasions over the years,” that “they still have fingerprints and forensic evidence from my sister’s murder.  Why can’t they review that evidence?” Malecki asked.

A witness in a 1994 Keough sexual abuse lawsuit in Baltimore, “Jane Doe,” testified that she had been taken to the Lansdowne dump and shown the body of the dead nun and warned not to tell anyone what she knew. 

In addition to all of these anomalies and inconsistencies, a former Anne Arundel County Policewoman (she is also a graduate of Keough High School) said that when she tried to investigate Sister Cathy’s murder on her own, she was told that she should not ask questions about the case.

Jacalyn Bierman, a 1970 Keough graduate said: “I started digging around in the records, but I was advised by a high-ranking Baltimore City Police Department officer not to ask questions about the case.”

The FBI, itself, has confirmed that the links between the two killings deserve further study.  FBI spokesman Barry Maddox concluded in 2005: “All of these coincidences certainly rise to the level of possible significance for solving both killings. We haven’t ruled anything out including the Malecki killing and possible links to the Cesnik case.”

Nagging Questions

After two hunters reportedly found the nun’s body on the garbage dump in Lansdowne on January 3, 1970, the Baltimore County Police Department responded by sending its homicide unit to the scene.  Describing that scene later to this reporter, Detective Louis G. “Bud”) Roemer would recall: “It was snowing when we got to the dump, and cold as a sonofabitch.

“The body was pretty much covered by snow, but it didn’t take us long to figure out who she was.  When I walked up on that dump, I said: ‘Hello, Cathy Cesnik.’”

What followed that moment in a wooded section of Baltimore County was a 44-year on-and-off investigation by Baltimore County and City Police, the FBI, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore and various news reporters who worked the case again and again but never solved it.

From the very beginning, the nun’s heartbreaking death has been surrounded by some of the strangest and most complicated circumstances in the annals of Maryland crime.

Abducted on the evening of Nov. 7, 1969 – two months before her decaying body was discovered – the teaching nun was at first thought to have been carjacked by a stranger, during a 7 p.m. shopping trip from an apartment she shared with another nun to the Edmondson Village Shopping Center.

But that scenario was called into question by the fact that the nun’s automobile (a 1969 Ford Maverick) had been seen by neighbors parked in her usual parking space at the Carriage House Apartments on Frederick Road at 8:30 that same evening, according to police reports of the day.  If the nun had been abducted by a stranger in Baltimore and then murdered and abandoned on the Lansdowne dump, how had her car gotten back to her apartment building?

And why was the car found parked only a few feet away from the Carriage House lot, early the next morning – with “twigs and leaves in the front seat” and “branches caught in the radio antenna,” according to later police reports?

Said Bud Roemer, while describing this perplexing complication, “I’d been working homicide for about ten years . . . and I’d never heard of a random killing where the stranger who kills you carefully returns your car to your apartment house.”

The “carjacking by a stranger” scenario was also thrown into doubt by a published police report a couple of days after the nun vanished.  According to the report, “residents of the apartment complex reported seeing the nun’s car back in its parking space at the Carriage House Apartments at 8:30” on the evening when she disappeared.  In addition, according to police, another resident reported seeing a second car pull onto the lot around 8:30, after which the nun “waved to the occupant of the car and then drove off following it.”

Another witness (also a Keough graduate) who was walking near the Carriage House Apartments around 8 p.m. remembers hearing “a man screaming in a terrible argument that ended suddenly.”

In recent days, both the FBI and local police authorities have said that there “isn’t enough new evidence available to justify opening a formal investigation” into the unsolved murders.

While declining to comment on the unsolved murders of Sister Cathy Cesnik and Joyce Malecki, an FBI spokesperson said that “If anybody has any information about [these cases], they need to call [Dave Jacoby of] the Baltimore County Police Department cold case unit [at 410-887-3943].”

To read the Baltimore County Police Department Unsolved Case Squad report on Sister Cathy Cesnik’s murder: http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/police/homicide/unsolved_homicides/

To read “Who Killed Sister Cathy?”  Link: http://www2.citypaper.com/story.asp?id=9526