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On the Trail of a Traditional Priest’s Killer

By keeping certain cold cases in the public eye, the chance of those cases being solved appears to increase. The latest example is the April 24 arrest of the notorious Golden State Killer, who committed his crimes in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Thus, on this 20th anniversary year of the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz — a case I’ve been following and writing about for quite a few years — I’d like to highlight the recent social media campaign conducted by the Dane County Sheriff’s Office (primarily on Facebook, but also on Twitter), which “is hoping to reinvigorate the investigation of this case.”

Father Kunz was a priest and canon lawyer of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin. He was known for celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass (and the Novus Ordo) as the longtime pastor of St. Michael Catholic Church, located in rural Dane, Wisconsin. He had a good reputation among a number of orthodox Catholics, even on a regional level, and was staunchly pro-life.

Father Kunz was also a discreet adviser to Illinois Catholic activist Stephen Brady, who founded the now-defunct Roman Catholic Faithful, Inc. Brady was instrumental in exposing clergy corruption in the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, including that of the late Bishop Daniel Ryan, who resigned in disgrace in 1999. (In 2000, Brady went on to expose a network of pederasts in the priesthood and hierarchy worldwide, but was not taken seriously by the mainstream media or the Catholic establishment. As we know, the clergy abuse scandal erupted in the mainstream media in 2002.)

On the morning of March 4, 1998, Father Kunz was found brutally murdered, his throat slit, in the hallway of the school attached to his parish. There have been various theories put forth as to the killer’s motive, some more plausible than others.

Now to the Sheriff’s Office March 2018 social media campaign…

One of the most intriguing Sheriff’s Office Facebook posts has to do with Maureen O’Leary — referred to as “Ms. O’Leary” in the post — the principal of St. Michael School at the time of the murder. Sure sounds like Ms. O’Leary has something to hide! Could she be shielding the killer for some reason?

The Sheriff’s Office reportedly is monitoring a few persons of interest, at least one of whom has a criminal record.

I asked Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Elise Schaffer the following question: Do the reported handful of persons of interest know each other, and could they be collectively covering up the crime? She responded: “Our detectives say the persons of interest do not generally move in the same circles.”

Is it possible that any of the persons of interest might kill again at some point? “Anyone’s guess. Anything is possible,” Ms. Schaffer responded.

Below are additional images from the campaign, including two crime scene photos, a timeline photo, and a photo of one of Father Kunz’s hands, post-mortem, showing defensive wounds (bruising). That photo, originally on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, was captured by writer Joe Hanneman at his website.

Stay tuned.

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. He’s been interviewed on MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s ‘Unsolved’ podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at [email protected].

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