Wednesday 21 February 2018

First look: Is Netflix crime doc series The Keepers the new Making a Murderer?

Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Following the success of Making a Murderer, Netflix is releasing another crime series documentary which may prove just as compelling for viewers.

The Keepers is a seven part series about the unsolved murder of a Catholic nun in Baltimore in 1969.

Sister Cathy Cesnik was a beloved high school teacher who went missing on November 7 that year and whose body was found two months later.

Nobody has ever been charged with her murder even though there have been developments in the case since then.

In the 1990s one of Sister Cathy's former students, known only as 'Jane Doe', came forward to share her experience of horrendous sexual ab use by the high school's chaplain.

She also revealed that she was taken to see Sister Cathy's undiscovered body and was told, 'See what happens when you say bad things about people.'

Despite this claim and testimony from other victims and witnesses of abuse, nobody has ever been held accountable and the story was largely unreported outside of Baltimore.

In The Keepers director Ryan White goes beyond the murder of the nun and uncovers clergy abuse, repressed memories and government and religious institutions that he says “at best, dropped the ball over the last 45 years – and, at worst, covered it up.”

"We never set out in making this to solve a murder," he adds.  "But what has happened through making it is it has drawn people out in a way that wouldn't have happened if there wasn't going to be such a scrutiny or risk of exposure."

His footage includes candid conversations with 'Jane Doe' about about what really happened behind closed doors at Archbishop Keough High School.

“From the moment I met her, I was devoted to bringing this story to light, because I believed it,” White says. “I believe she can have a true impact in the world, and I believe she’s been deprived of that because of how her story’s been buried by many people in many institutions.”

White also speaks with Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub, two of Sister Cathy’s former students. Now retired and in their 60s, Hoskins and Schaub have spent years investigating what happened after their favorite English teacher disappeared 47 years ago.

“Gemma’s probably the biggest embodiment of that (person) who will stop at nothing,” White says. “She can strike up a conversation with anyone and can charm the hell out of anyone, but she can also use that to her advantage to expose the truth.”

He adds, “My hope in making this series is that we open up the conversation around what happened tothese children,” White says. “The ones that survived are now adults, but it’s not too late to (talk) about what happened to them, why it happened, why it was never exposed and to make sure that it stops happening in the future.”

All seven hour-long episodes will land on May 19.

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