Murder in the Rectory– For Real

Was it for Ritual or Revenge?

Father Alfred Kunz was a controversial figure. To his parish he was teacher and friend, but within the Church legal structure he was staunchly outspoken about corruption and sexual abuse. He was Swiss, and the Swiss are a hard nosed lot. Being born in the USA doesn’t change this. Kunz was also a man of conviction. He was a conservative Catholic priest with what has been said are some “unusual” interests. To be explicit: he believed that there was truth behind the occult and he was also an exorcist.

Such attitudes and outlooks didn’t seem to go with a graying, kindly country rector, now 67 years old. His parish was small, about 146 families in Dane, Wisconsin. He didn’t take a salary. He lived in a small room attached to his church’s school. He drove an old car and was his own mechanic. He wouldn’t seem a very formidable figure. But he was. He had his own radio show. He was an expert in canon law, and he knew some very influential people.

Father Kunz was thus both respected amongst conservatives but not entirely liked in the higher echelons of the Church.

Along with Father Charles Fiore of nearby Lodi, he earned either enmity or mere dismissal from his superiors and mainstream Catholics by filing reports about sexual corruption in the Diocese. As an exorcist he also believed in Satan’s power working within corrupt members of the Church– the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing scenario. He was an associate and friend of Malachi Martin, one of the Catholic Church’s most controversial and hard to classify personalities. Martin believed in “Luciferians” in the Church and even wrote that Satan worshipers penetrated even the highest strata of the Church– the College of Cardinals.

A dramatic character himself, one that would fit in a dark thriller. Malachi Martin
A dramatic character himself, one that would fit in a dark thriller. Malachi Martin

But something so exotic as this wasn’t on Kunz’s mind. He was going to expose sexual abuse against some priests. The date to do so was coming up: March 7, 1998.

Both Fiore and Kunz were involved in the hour long Our Catholic Family on radio. It was a teaching tool where they expounded on the Eucharist and other traditional teachings. After taping on the night of March 3, 1998, in Monroe, the show was to undergo a format change under Fiore.

Both were still small time, of course. Great promotions had not come their way. They were wee voices crying from the wilderness– but Kunz was persistent. And they had a following far outside their parishes.

Kunz in his priestly robes.
Kunz in his priestly robes.

Being friends with Malachi Martin was controversial enough, but then also engaging in exorcisms. There’s another controversy. The establishment of the Church doesn’t like to see that mishandled. They don’t like rogue exorcists. They especially don’t like one in the boondocks. He may become a squire-priest amongst the bumpkins. The seeds of a cult.

But Kunz wasn’t that. He wasn’t a separatist. He was teacher of the children at the church school, a respected figure and spiritual guide to all the Catholics about in the county.

The Rev. Father was in the midst of these controversies when on the night of March 3rd, 1998, Father Fiore dropped him off back at his parish after their joint radio show. It was about 10 p.m. Kunz plodded up the layer of early spring snow and went inside. Fiore drove away. Father Kunz received a call about 10:30 p.m.. It is not divulged as to whom it was from.

The next morning at 7:00 a.m. he is found by one of the teachers, Brian Jackson. Kunz is in the hallway lying at the foot of a statue of Michael the Archangel. He had been in a terrible fight it seems. He is facedown in a pool of his own blood. His throat had been cut. Not a common way to kill someone. Takes some stomach and precision. It takes some forethought as well. It’s a messy way and must be done with the victim’s face away from the killer.

St. Michaels.
St. Michael’s.

Very little else is known about the details. Kunz most certainly had other bodily injuries. He had put up a fight with his killer. Having failed, bruised and insensible, was he then drug to the foot up the statue, there his throat cut. He was face down, after all. This may suggests he was unconscious and the villain clutched his hair, lifted his head, and delivered the blow. Was it with vengeful passion or ritualistic warning? It all depends if he was drug there. It seems symbolism. His Church was St. Michael The Archangel.

But whose symbolism? A warning from within a dark element in the Church?  A priest who didn’t want to be exposed? Or from someone within the school and parish?

Needless to say, many weren’t impressed with the investigation. This included both some of those associated with Malachi Martin, and some law enforcement who are familiar with the jurisdiction’s methods. In true Agatha Christie style, the sheriffs suspected the man who found the body– Jackson. Supposedly, he hadn’t been getting along with Kunz over the running of the school. For such a disagreement it is remarkable a teacher would fly into a rage and butcher his priest and principle symbolically.

Yet Jackson had zero physical evidence against him, something hard to believe if he had struggled with Kunz. As late as 2012, the sheriffs stated they are still trying to lift DNA off crime scene material, believing that in the struggle Kunz got a piece of his attacker– skin, blood, something. To date nothing. Thus there remains zero physical evidence against anyone known. However, the sheriffs have reassured us that the motive for the killing was “common.”Kunz2

By accentuating this word in a news conference, it is obvious law enforcement was tempering the fear and theories circulating that Alfred Kunz was murdered ritualistically, either by a hit man within the Diocese, a priest on his own, or the devilish act of “Lucifer’s Lodge” within the Church– Satanists fearing exposure because of Kunz’s private investigations and those of his network of likeminded priests.

There are other tidbits, of course. But with such a confusing case they need much more clarification before they can even be seriously introduced. In fact, the case is one hard to fathom let alone proceed with. Many around the case are disposed to believe both in supernatural power motivating a dark element within the Church and a dark power acting on its own or in possession of some individual. Many are motivated to fear someone in the Church. It is this element that is disposed to believe that the claims of the local sheriffs is just a way to make people believe they are truly trying to do something rather than just sitting around afraid of the local diocese.

The sheriffs believe or prefer to believe in the “common motive” but haven’t in 17 years found enough to underpin their suspicions. They are not qualified nor capable of investigating the Catholic Church diocese in question, and after corruption was uncovered in the diocese in 2002 it was clear there was truth to the allegations Father Kunz was going to bring. Thus it would seem only a capable Catholic priest like Father Brown is in a position to do what needs to be done here. Such was  Father Kunz, but he has been murdered and no one has taken his place in 17 years.

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