1969 slayings of 2 women forge police-FBI liaison

July 01, 1994|By Robert A. Erlandson and Joe Nawrozki | Robert A. Erlandson and Joe Nawrozki,Sun Staff Writers

Baltimore County detectives and FBI agents met this week to consider possible connections between the unsolved slayings of Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik and Joyce Helen Malecki, who vanished four days apart in 1969.

Maj. Allan J. Webster, chief of the county's Criminal Investigation Services Division, said yesterday the agencies will meet again to compare information.

Capt. Rustin Price, head of the county homicide squad, said, "We don't want to raise any false hopes, but we are checking out everything we can."

Miss Malecki's body was discovered Nov. 13, 1969, at Fort Meade, two days after she disappeared and six days after Sister Catherine was reported missing.

Miss Malecki, 20, an office worker for a liquor distributor, had been stabbed in the throat and strangled.

Sister Catherine, 26, whose body was not found until Jan. 3, 1970, had been choked and had a fatal head wound.

Sister Catherine still was considered a missing person when Miss Malecki's body was found, and investigators said then that they could not link the cases.

Authorities questioned dozens of people in the separate investigations. But no one was charged in either case, and the files lay dormant for more than two decades.

County police reopened the Cesnik file this spring after a woman came forward with an account of sexual abuse and murder. Now the Malecki file is being reviewed for possible similarities.

It is an FBI case because Miss Malecki's body was found on federal property. Special Agent John Huntley, of the Annapolis office, confirmed that agents met with county detectives, but he declined to disclose any details of the discussion.

Major Webster said detectives continue to follow up on telephone tips received in response to a June 19 article in The Sun that detailed renewed efforts in the case, but it is too early to determine where they might lead.

Detectives ask anyone who might have information about the slayings to call Baltimore County police communications at 887-2198.

The Lansdowne community figures in both cases. Miss Malecki was a Lansdowne resident and Sister Catherine's body was found there.

Lt. Sam Bowerman, who created a criminal profile for the renewed Cesnik investigation, concluded that Sister Catherine's killer was a stranger to her but was familiar with Lansdowne, including the out-of-the-way snow-crusted field off Monumental Avenue where the body was dumped.

Sister Catherine, a teacher in a city public school, disappeared Nov. 7, 1969, during a shopping trip from her Southwest Baltimore apartment.

Two months later, two hunters found her partly clothed body.

Miss Malecki disappeared Nov. 11, 1969.After shopping at a Glen Burnie mall, Miss Malecki was to have met a boyfriend who was stationed at Fort Meade for a date, but she never showed up.

On Nov. 13, two hunters found her body. She lay partly in the Little Patuxent River, in the Soldiers Park section of Fort Meade. Her hands were tied behind her back. Scratches and bruises on her body indicated she had struggled with her assailant, the autopsy report said.

County police began taking a new look at the Cesnik file last spring after a woman who claimed to have been sexually abused as a student at Archbishop Keough High School in Southwest Baltimore told police that a priest had taken her to see the nun's corpse long before the hunters discovered it. Sister Catherine had been a teacher at Keough when the woman went there.

The woman said another man she met in the priest's office told her that he had beaten Sister Catherine to death because the woman had told the nun about the molestation.

In interviews with the police and The Sun, the priest has denied having any knowledge of Sister Catherine's slaying or of any sexual activity with Keough students.

The Sun article also led to a number of telephone calls to three Towson lawyers for the woman who said she was sexually abused. The callers were women who say they have information, direct or indirect, about alleged sexual abuse at Keough. The hTC lawyers are from two firms but are working together in collecting information for a possible civil suit.

Meanwhile, city sex-abuse detectives also are investigating the allegations for possible criminal violations.

Although the volume of calls has slowed since the initial spate, some women have said they are trying to get former classmates to come forward, said Beverly A. Wallace, one of the lawyers.

She said the number of calls has led the lawyers to set up four meetings next week with women who say they have information. Some calls were anonymous and unless the people call back with their names and telephones their information is useless, Ms. Wallace said.

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