Published May 18, 2017Part of the reason why Making a Murderer — Netflix's first real foray into a multi-part, true crime docu-series — became such a cultural phenomenon was the way it galvanized audience members into action. Suddenly, amateur detectives around the world were coming together online, using the limited (or, in some cases, highly specific) skills they had to try and solve a decade-long mystery. It was crowdsourcing at its finest; in a way, it was hard not to see as inspiring.
But the murder of Teresa Halbach and the perhaps wrongful incarceration of Steven Avery (and certainly his since-exonerated nephew Brendan Dassey) is just one example of the many still unsolved cases all-around the world. Now, thanks to the internet, some of them are getting the attention they deserve.
Few cold cases are as unjust and sickening as the death of Sister Cathy Cesnik. A beloved nun and Catholic high school teacher living in suburban Baltimore, she went missing one day while on the way back from buying her sister an engagement gift at a local shopping centre. Her body was found two months later in a wooded area partway between her home and school.
That was 1969. Today, her death — as well as the abduction and murder of a similar-aged women living in her area at the time, Joyce Malecki — remains unsolved.
Directed by Ryan White (The Case Against 8), The Keepers — Netflix's seven-part docu-series about the mysterious circumstances surrounding their deaths — starts off by introducing Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub, two of Sister Cathy's former students, now retired and in their 60s, who seem to spend nearly every available moment of their time looking through microfilm, interviewing former police officers and classmates, and working on tips sent to them through a public Facebook group (which is sure to swell to a few thousand members once more people find out it exists here) to try and solve the two murders. Considering the crime was committed 47 years ago, it's a race against the clock to find the killer(s) before every witness, suspect, memory or surviving family member disappears (some do, even over the course of the series).
As The Keepers unfolds, we learn that their deaths weren't necessarily random, but part of a much larger cover-up involving sexual assault, the Archdiocese of Baltimore and even the city's police force, a cast of characters you'll find yourself questioning throughout, and long after some of them have been acquitted. It's part Spotlight, part The Wire.
Much like Making a Murderer before it, The Keepers doesn't have a happy ending (at least for now), but it's one of the strongest entries in the genre, shining a light on a variety of topics, from victim-blaming to the negative affects of organized religion and the predators it seems to often propagate. The Keepers won't bring Cesnik and Malecki back, but it's a step in an ongoing saga towards the next best thing: justice.