WMAR uncovers video of key moment in 'The Keepers'

Posted at 1:20 PM, Oct 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-06 13:20:04-04

ABC2 has uncovered video of the dig that happened at a local cemetery in 1994, which plays a big role in 'The Keepers' documentary on Netflix.

To create the seven, hour-long episodes, producers had more than 800 hours of video, but they did not have the WMAR video of the dig. 

It shows a huge hole in the ground at Holy Cross Cemetery in Anne Arundel County, along with some black plastic bags at the bottom of the hole, and papers outside of the bags.

The Keepers was a deep investigation into the murder of a local nun, Sister Cathy Cesnik and also allegations of sexual abuse by a priest at Archbishop Keough High School, Father Joseph Maskell.

It all happened nearly 50 years ago. No one has ever been charged with any crime in connection with the abuse, or with the murder of Sister Cesnik.

Back in the early 1990's Father Maskell ordered dozens of boxes of documents to be buried at the cemetery, which was associated with Holy Cross Church in Federal Hill.  Maskell served as that church’s pastor from 1982 to 1992.

In August of 1994, the boxes were then dug up again.

The WMAR video also includes a brief sound-bite with the man who buried the documents, former Holy Cross Cemetery employee William Storey, 

"The only word I got was to forget what went on that day. After it was over I closed in the pit, I was told to just forget it. It doesn't involve me other than opening the hole,” he said at the time.

The tape containing that video has been on a shelf in a storage room at ABC2 News, most likely since the day it was shot, August 10th, 1994.

The hand-written label reads, "Priest Paper Burial"

For retired teacher Gemma Hoskins, the video is the very definition of a needle in the haystack,

“Flabbergasted. Dumbfounded,” she said.  “Where has this been, it's something that we've heard about and now we're looking at it.”

The Keepers" detailed the three years that Hoskins and her friend and fellow Archbishop Keough graduate Abbie Schaub, spent investigating the murder of their favorite teacher, Sister Cesnik.

They also believe that sexual abuse at the school in the late 1960s led to the murder.

“Living with this story, and hearing about this dig, and then to see the hole and have a camera pan across the hole and see -- you know we heard there were trash bags. Well, there they were. I think I'm not the only one who did the 'OMG' on their phone because I couldn't believe that it existed,” Hoskins said, in an interview at her home in Ocean City.

The dig is a key moment in The Keepers.  Hoskins and Schaub, along with some of the abuse survivors and investigators they worked with, sat down with a former Baltimore City Police detective, who is Identified only as "Deep Throat."

He talks about how William Storey called city police to tell them about what he'd done for Father Maskell.  At the time, dozens of women had come forward to tell police -- including "Deep Throat" -- that Maskell abused them at Archbishop Keough.

Police dug up the cemetery plot and removed -- according to Hoskins -- some three truck-loads of boxes.

In The Keepers, Deep Throat talked about what he saw in them:

“One of the boxes that I saw had girls with their shirts open, exposing their breasts,” he said.  “And then there were records in there talking about this individual girl, like a profile. Clearly in high school.”

Even with the women's claims and the documents from the dig, the Baltimore City State's Attorney in charge of sex crimes at that time, Sharon May, still chose not to charge Father Maskell with child sexual abuse.  She also did an interview with producers of The Keepers.

“It was wet. It had to be dried out and sorted through,” May said.  “But to my recollection, there was nothing found that went right to, 'Oh, Maskell molested these kids,’” she said.

But our video shows the bags and papers left behind after the dig.  And even after being buried for four years with the boxes police took away, you can almost read them.

“It's something that you want to keep watching over and over again. Like you think you're going to see something, you don't want to miss anything,” Hoskins said.

So what exactly is in those papers?

Gemma Hoskins and her team went to work again.  One of the papers outside the plastic bags appears to be a parish directory from Holy Cross Church.

Another paper, Hoskins said, is a version of the "Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory,” or MCMI.

Hoskins worked with a small team of investigators, who consulted with the American Psychological Association to determine that one of the papers was a page from the MCMI, which is used to diagnose serious personality disorders such as depression and schizophrenia.

Hoskins says she has spoken with Keough graduates from the time Father Maskell worked as a counselor at the school, who told her that they were given strange tests about their personality.

“I have heard them talk about, that they took tests, that he gave tests with questions about their drug use, their personality, whether they could keep secrets, whether they were easily led,” Hoskins said.

The MCMI was not widely used until the late 1970's, but Hoskins believes her fellow students at Keough may have been given other types of tests.           

In any case, the MCMI is not supposed to be administered by anyone without a doctoral degree; which Maskell never had.

Hoskins believes there is still someone out there who knows more about what was in the hole and thinks there still might be more documents buried somewhere at Holy Cross Cemetery.

“My message to your viewers would be, if you remember taking an assessment that sounds like this, please get in touch with me or the station because your evaluation was likely in that hole,” Hoskins said.

Baltimore County police told ABC-2 News they are still investigating the murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik; they’ve been in charge of the case since 1970 because the woman’s body was found in Baltimore County.

However, County Police are not investigating the allegations of sexual abuse from back in the 60s; those were alleged to have happened at Archbishop Keough High School, which is in Baltimore City.

So, it was Baltimore City Police that had control of the boxes of documents removed from the cemetery.

But as you heard in The Keepers, all of those boxes were somehow lost in a flood in an evidence room.  We are awaiting a response from Baltimore City police on those documents.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore has an extensive response to The Keepers on its website, including its current efforts to support victims of clergy sex abuse.

We've reached out to the Archdiocese about the cemetery dig from 1994 and our video of it, and we are still working on setting up a time for them to respond to that specific part of this story.