Saturday marked the 25th anniversary of the Rev. Alfred Kunz’ murder at St. Michael Church in Dane, a homicide that has gone unsolved all of these years.
Around this time, the Tribune usually receives a press release from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office indicating that the case is still active and asking anyone with information to contact their office. But, so far this year, the Tribune has gotten no such communication.
Channel 3000 interviewed retired Sheriff Dave Mahoney, who had investigated the case as a deputy and followed it throughout his career. Mahoney noted that the case would be more difficult to solve all these years later, as some people with information are likely no longer with us. NBC 15 quoted one of the detectives currently working on the case as saying it has no witnesses.
Kunz’ brutal murder and the violence around it definitely has been one of the stranger stories I’ve reported on. I was fairly new to the Tribune when it happened, and I looked for every angle. I remember talking to church members and attending press conferences. It was often a topic of conversation.
But, every year, as the media began digging again into the murder and investigation, the discussions likely opened a wound that the parish and school Fr. Kunz served were trying to heal from. The parish has changed its name perhaps in an effort to begin anew.
Top theories have been that Kunz was killed during a robbery at the church or by someone angry about an affair he was having. Some have said he was trying to uncover sexual abuse in the diocese. And, others have surmised it was part of a satanic ritual.
We just may never know. Maybe as the hope has been, the person who committed the murder may finally confess as a way to clear their conscience. That would bring peace to many in the small community of Dane and the parish.