Who Is Gerry Koob? 'The Keepers' Priest Was Close With Sister Cathy Cesnik
The Keepers' narrative is both intricate and expansive, sifting through the 1969 murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik and the unsettling allegations that surrounded it. The docuseries is propelled by its central figures and Cesnik's former students: intrepid researchers Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub as well as abuse victim Jean Wehner. An array of others tied to the case also weave in and out, making it difficult to keep up if you're not paying close attention. One such person is Gerry Koob, a Jesuit priest who'd been close with Cesnik before her death, but there's more to who Gerry Koob is beyond his initial descriptor.
The show first introduces Koob as a friend of Cesnik's. He was one of the priests Cesnik's roommate Sister Russell Phillips said she called upon realizing Cesnik had gone missing — the nun had gone on a shopping trip to run a few errands, but never returned. According to Inside Baltimore, Koob arrived at Phillips' apartment with a second Catholic brother, Peter McKeon, where the three talked for a few hours before calling the police between midnight and 1 a.m. After several more hours of conversation, Koob and McKeon claim they decided to calm their nerves by taking a walk around the neighborhood. It was then that they discovered Cesnik’s green Ford Maverick, parked at an odd angle, directly adjacent to the apartment complex's parking lot.
In Keepers, Koob explains he'd actually been involved with Cesnik romantically at the time. He'd asked her to marry him two years earlier, before he was ordained and before she had taken her final vows, but she turned him down. Nonetheless, the two remained close and continued to write each other love letters. Three days before Cesnik disappeared, Koob called her to tell her he still loved her, and that he was prepared to leave the priesthood to be with her.
According to The Huffington Post, Koob was one of the first persons of interest in Cesnik's murder investigation. The outlet reports that the police brought him in for questioning, but he had an airtight alibi. He and a fellow priest said they had gone to dinner in downtown Baltimore and watched Easy Rider at a local movie theater. He produced receipts and ticket stubs, and also passed two lie detector tests.
Harry Bannon, a retired Baltimore City homicide investigator, told the Baltimore City Paper in 2004 that he thought Koob allegedly knew more about the murder than he was admitting, but the church lawyers intervened to confer with high-ranking police officials, who asked them to back off. "We were told, ‘Either charge Koob with a crime or let him go. Stop harassing him,’” said Bannon, who died in 2009. After that, the investigation cooled off.
In response to the The Keepers, the Baltimore County Police Department provided Bustle with the following statement:
"We have not been afforded the opportunity to preview the series and therefore cannot comment on it. We have been aware for some time of vague allegations of wrongdoing by police in connection with the murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik. In the nearly 50 years since this murder occurred, no one has come forward to BCoPD to initiate an investigation of wrongdoing by police officers, including a woman who came forward through her attorney last week to allege abuse by a now-deceased BCoPD officer. Our detectives contacted her to begin an investigation, and she refused to be interviewed. This has been one of our most active cold cases for many years; our current team of detectives continues to work diligently to solve this case."
In 2015, Huffington Post reported that Koob was a Methodist minister living in New Jersey with his wife. In The Keepers, both Koob and his wife appear on camera.