The FBI is planning to exhume next week the body of Joyce Malecki, whose 1969 unsolved killing was explored in the Netflix documentary “The Keepers,” her brother said.

“We’re hoping for some closure,” said Darryl Malecki. He and his family have been searching for answers since Joyce Malecki, 20, disappeared after Christmas shopping at Harundale Mall on Nov. 11, 1969.

Hunters discovered Malecki’s body two days later at Fort Meade. Her hands had been bound and she had been strangled and stabbed in the throat. From the beginning, the FBI has led the murder investigation since Malecki’s body was found on the military base.

Darryl Malecki said the FBI investigator assigned to his sister’s case told him the exhumation is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 14. He said the FBI has not told him why they were exhuming the body or what investigators hoped to find. Family members will be allowed to witness the exhumation, but the public and members of the media will not be permitted to attend, Malecki said.

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An FBI spokesperson declined to comment, “out of respect for the ongoing investigation.” The agency first informed the Malecki family of their intent to exhume the body last summer.

People have long speculated that there was a link between the killings of Malecki and Sister Cathy Cesnik, a teacher at Archbishop Keough High School. Cesnik disappeared four days before Malecki and her body was found in January 1970 in a wooded area.

The 2017 Netflix documentary “The Keepers” delved into both killings and allegations of horrific sexual abuse at the now-shuttered all-girls Catholic high school. Numerous women who attended Keough in the late 1960s and early 1970s say that they were raped by two faculty members, the Rev. Neil Magnus and the Rev. A. Joseph Maskell.

The Keough alumni say that the priests, who have both since died, targeted vulnerable girls based on their disclosures in the confessional, then brought them into their private offices for supposed counseling sessions, in which they actually drugged, sexually assaulted and raped.

According to the Maryland Office of the Attorney General’s massive report on the sexual abuse of minors in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, 39 women and men have accused Maskell of sexual abuse, both at Keough and other schools and parishes where he worked.

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“The Keepers” explored the theory that Cesnik was killed because girls had confided to her that they were being abused at school. An arrest has not been made in Cesnik’s case.

The Malecki family attended St. Clement Catholic Church and lived two blocks from the church rectory, where Maskell was living at the time Joyce disappeared, Darryl Malecki said. However, he said he did not necessarily believe that there was a connection between the killing of his sister and that of Sister Cathy.

Some have speculated a possible connection between the killing of Malecki and that of Pamela Lynn Conyers, who had also disappeared after visiting the Harundale Mall, although she disappeared nearly a year later, in October 1970. In March, Anne Arundel County Police and federal authorities announced that they believed Forrest Clyde William III killed Conyers. William died in 2018.

Malecki said he was optimistic that the FBI was getting closer to solving the case, after more than 54 years.

“That’s all we’ve been doing this whole time — hoping,” he said. “Hoping for some closure.”

Julie Scharper is a news enterprise reporter who writes about interesting people, places, trends and traditions in Baltimore and the surrounding counties. She seeks to answer the question: What does it mean to be alive in this time and place? 

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