23 years unsolved: the murder case of Father Alfred Kunz

The case is on track to outlive the Dane Co. Sheriff’s tenure.
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 9:46 PM CST
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DANE, Wis. (WMTV) - Detectives are still without a suspect in the murder of a Catholic priest who was killed 23 years ago inside his own parish in the village of Dane.

“There are hundreds, if not thousands of hours, that have been put on this case,” Dane Co. Sheriff Dave Mahoney said Thursday. “This is a case that really resonates and shakes every citizen of this community.”

On March 4, 1998, Mahoney, then a detective, responded to the Saint Michael Catholic Church for a homicide investigation.

Father Alfred Kunz had been found dead. Authorities say the killer slashed his neck.

“We know that there was as struggle between Father Kunz and the defendant,” Mahoney, who took over as sheriff in 2007, said. “We know he fought with that person. We know that the person was probably injured, may have even bled.”

The physical evidence could prove to be beneficial with today’s DNA technology, but Mahoney says he’s lacking the “final piece of the puzzle” to pinpoint a suspect.

“What I believe is that somebody knows something about this case that has not talked to us yet for any host of reasons,” he said. “We hope that as time goes by, they want to free their minds of this burden and this nightmare and help us bring a resolution to this case.”

On the 20th anniversary, the Sheriff’s Office ran a social media campaign called #whokilledfatherkunz.

Now, the case is on track to outlive Mahoney’s tenure. After taking over the sheriff title from Gary Hamblin in 2007, Mahoney is set to retire in May.

“I remember Gary, before he left the office, wanting to solve this case because of the immense impact it had on our Dane County community,” he said. “As I prepare to retire, it certainly comes back to my mind that day that I was an investigator and, today, hoping to bring a resolution to this case for our community.”

He isn’t the only one looking for answers. A spokesperson with the Diocese of Madison wrote to NBC15, in part: “Whatever led to Fr. Kunz’s murder, we want to know what happened and close this terrible chapter for Dane, the Church, and the larger area.”

Mahoney said the last piece of evidence came two years ago, and it took detectives in a “new direction.” He added, there are detectives assigned exclusively to this case.

If you have any information, call the TIPS line at (608) 284-6900 or email

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