Twenty years ago a priest was brutally murdered in a little, rural town in Wisconsin. His throat was slit, and despite the advances in DNA identification and the public’s mistaken belief in the CSI effect, the crime remains unsolved till this day.
Rev. Alfred Kunz had just finished co-hosting a faith-based radio show named Our Catholic Family in Monroe, Wisconsin on the evening of March 3, 1998.
He had been dropped at St. Michael by another priest, and he spoke on the phone at 10:23 pm. Sometime later that night or during the early morning of March 4, someone attacked Father Kunz. The doors were locked and there was no evidence of forced entry leading to the belief that either Father Kunz let the person in, or the perpetrator had found a way in that was not necessarily through the door.
Early the next morning he was found by one of the teachers, Brian Jackson lying in a pool of blood in the parish’s tiny school near his living quarters, which consisted of a desk and a cot in a small classroom. His injuries indicated he had been in a terrible fight, and it appeared he was dragged while he was insensible to the foot of a statue of St. Michael the Archangel, where his carotid artery was sliced with an edged weapon. He was left to bleed out face down.
Kunz who was 67 years old, was a priest from St. Michael Catholic Church in the village of Dane. He was known for his strict adherence to conservative, traditional Catholic teachings. He said Mass in Latin, and as a Judicial Vicar for the Madison diocese and a member of the Marriage Tribunal made it difficult for persons to receive annulments after a divorce. He expressed disdain for homosexuals, especially cases of pederasty in rectories and chanceries. No doubt he foresaw the slew of sexual abuse allegations that would swamp the Church a few scant years later.
After serving over 30 years at the parish, Father Kunz was a friend and teacher to the parishioners, and initially some suspected the reason had been robbery. But others suspected the motive was not that simple.
But who would wish to brutally slay a kindly, 67-year-old priest, who didn't even collect a salary at the small parish that only had a population of 600? The last murder in Dane had occurred in 1971.
Father Kunz was outspoken about corruption and sexual abuse within the Catholic church, filing reports about incidents occurring within the diocese.
In 1996, Father Kunz became a canon law advisor to the Illinois-based Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF), who was headed by lay Catholic activist Stephen Brady. RCF was investigating the misdeeds of Bishop Daniel Ryan. Ryan was accused of trolling area parks for male prostitutes, preferring underage ones, and for assaulting a mentally disabled man. Ryan abruptly retired in October 1999, shortly before a lawsuit was filed accusing him of covering up the sexual abuse of a child by another Illinois priest. He died in December 2015.
After Kunz was murdered, Brady bought a bulletproof vest. Did he suspect he might be targeted as well?
Besides being an expert in canon law, Father Kunz hosted his own radio show. He had connections to influential people, and most of all he was also a believer in the occult, in other words he believed that the devil was real, and he ministered to those troubled by demons as an exorcist.
He told his congregation of an encounter with a young lady who came to the chancery. She had been referred to him, and perhaps suspecting the reason why, he asked her to take a chair beneath a crucifix. Within a few minutes a throaty, animal-like growl came from her, and then she said,, "Where is he?"
The chancery staff took to their heels, and nobody returned until she exited. It turned out the lady had participated in satanic rituals, and was trying to free herself from demonic influences. Eventually he was able to assist her, and she went on to lead a normal life somewhere in the Midwest.
No doubt he stepped on several Church toes throughout the years, calling out corruption among Church members as being influenced by evil, and hiding behind their priestly robes.
He was also a friend of another exorcist and controversial figure within the Catholic Church named Malachi Martin. Dr. Martin believed that Luciferians were active within the ranks of the church even penetrating the College of Cardinals.
However in March 1998, Father Kunz lived in Wisconsin and his friend Malachi lived in New York, and it was a stretch to think that their mutual belief about the evil in the church could have been the reason for the murder.
There was something more imminent on the horizon which could have been a motive. He was going to expose sexual abuse committed by some priests three days later on March 7.
Was it a robbery gone wrong, vengeance for a real or imagined offense or a ritualistic warning? Was the allegation of a dark element in the Church not that far fetched, or perhaps a priest or someone who worked in the school feared getting exposed?
Initially the sheriff suspected Brian Jackson who found the body. He had been butting heads with Father Kunz over the running of the school, but would this be enough to drive a teacher to murder? There was also no physical evidence against him. Not only was there no physical evidence against Jackson, there was none at all to tie to any other perpetrator. All that law enforcement commented was that the motive was "common" as if to allay fears that there had been some type of conspiracy behind the crime.
As the days and weeks rolled on without any arrests many became dissatisfied with the investigation, and not only the locals but those associated with Malachi Martin and others familiar with law enforcement procedures wondered why no arrests were made.
Little over a year later in July, 1999, Malachi Martin died due to a fall in his apartment in Manhattan. In the 2017, documentary, Hostage to the Devil, associates of Father Martin stated he believed that he was pushed from the stool he was standing on by a demonic force. He had participated in an exorcism of a 4-year-old girl only a few days before the accident.
In 2002, corruption was uncovered in the diocese, giving truth to Father Kunz's allegations.
In the intervening 20 years, there have been no deathbed or jail cell confessions, from either a perpetrator or a witness, and one has to wonder if any that could have shed light on what happened that winter night in 1998, took their secret to the grave.
On Saturday, March 3, 2018, a Solemn Requiem Mass was celebrated at St. Mary of Pine Bluff to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of Father Kunz's death.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by Marlene Pardo Pellicer