The Keepers is a 2017 documentary web series about the true story of the murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, a nun who taught at a school in Baltimore. Her students believed that her murder was part of a cover-up of a sexual abuse scandal that she had knowledge of.
Directed by Ryan White, the series has been met with critical acclaim for its honest and sensitive treatment of the subject – it does not come to a clear conclusion as to whether the allegations against the authorities have any truth, but leaves viewers to decide for themselves.
Where to watch The Keepers?
The Keepers is available to watch exclusively on Netflix.
Is The Keepers based on a true story?
On November 7th, 1969, Sister Cathy Cesnik cashed a cheque at the First National Bank, Catonsvile, then went to the local bakery to buy some buns. After that, she was kidnapped and struck over the head with a blunt object, her body dumped in a landfill and left there until it was discovered by a hunter and his son. An investigation was launched, but to this day the killer has never been found.
Ryan White and his team spent three years researching this story and putting their findings together to make the Netflix documentary series The Keepers. Their research included including talking to Baltimore residents who were at the school where Sister Cathy taught all those years ago, so viewers can rest assured that the story they’re being told is as accurate as possible.
You can find out more about the true story of Sister Cathy here.
What is The Keepers about?
The Keepers explores the question of who killed Sister Cathy Cesnik, a nun who taught at a school in Baltimore. Her murder has remained unsolved for nearly 50 years, and is thought to have been related to the sexual abuse of schoolchildren by priests of the Catholic Church – although the Church of course denies any relationship between the two, as the Archdiocese of Baltimore states on its website.
Each episode of the series reveals additional information about the case. The first outlines the basic story, then the second links this to the sexual abuse allegations at Archbishop Keough High School. Next, we hear the story of one former student who claims she was abused by Father Maskell and members of the church, and two others who filed a lawsuit against him for the same reason. In the final episodes, possible suspects and further evidence is reviewed, but the question of who killed Sister Cathy is left open.
The series has been compared with Making a Murderer, but director Ryan White thinks his series is actually “very different” to Steven Avery’s, highlighting very different issues and types of people.
How many episodes of The Keepers are there?
The series has seven episodes, in just one season.
What to watch and read next
If you liked The Keepers, Netflix has an array of similar true crime series available to watch, including I Am A Killer, Making A Murderer, and Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. We’d also recommend Spotlight, the 2015 oscar-winning documentary about child abuse by Catholic priests in Boston.
Several books have also been written about Sister Cathy’s murder, as well as more generally about the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. We recommend Beyond Belief: The Papacy and the Child Abuse Scandal, Betrayal: The Crisis In The Catholic Church, or The Case of the Pope.