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The Fr. Alfred Kunz Homicide: Suspect or No Suspect?

By Matt Abbott
Op/Ed

It's been almost seven years since Father Alfred Kunz, a priest of the Diocese of Madison, Wis., was found dead - his throat cut - at his parish in Dane, Wis. The murder remains unsolved, but what I find curious is the fact that there have been conflicting reports about whether or not investigators have "zeroed in" on a suspect.

According to a Jan. 11, 2005 story in the Wisconsin State Journal (http://www.madison.com/archives/read.php?ref=wsj:2005:01:11:399939:FRONT):

"...Four of the 15 county murders in the last two years are unsolved. Before that, the last murder in Dane County without an arrest or suspect is the killing of the Rev. Alfred Kunz of Dane in 1998.... Establishing relationships between the killer and Kunz, a Catholic priest, may be one reason investigators haven't identified a suspect in that case.

"'There are a number of issues there that we are dealing with in that case,' Hamblin said. 'It has certainly made the case more difficult because the nature of Father Kunz and his occupation required him to maintain the confidentiality of some of his contacts. He didn't have a secretary or other family members who could shed light on his day-to-day contacts.'"

But a March 5, 2004 report from WISCTV.com (http://www.channel3000.com/editorials/2899237/detail.html) stated:

"After six years, Dane County investigators say they've made significant progress in their investigation of who killed Father Alfred Kunz.... Investigators told News 3 they have zeroed in on a suspect, but may never have enough evidence to make an arrest...."

Hmm. So is there a suspect or isn't there? Which report is more accurate? At this point, it's hard to say. They could have a prime suspect, and they're just being tight-lipped about it. Or they may not have a prime suspect, and they're just being tight-lipped about it. Take your pick.

Investigators discovered Kunz had "intimate relationships" with women, and that might have been a motive for someone to kill him. (When asked if the relationships were sexual in nature, the sheriff's office declined to elaborate.) According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Kunz had been associated with certain people at the Church-condemned "shrine" in Necedah, Wis. And then there was Kunz's association with one Ryan P. Scott, also known as Father Ryan St. Anne, OSB, who currently resides in Galesburg, Ill.

From an Oct. 3, 2004 story in the Galesburg Register-Mail, by reporter Tammy Bould:

"The mortgage papers hadn't even been signed when warnings about the Holy Rosary Abbey and its controversial leader, the Rev. Ryan St. Anne, reached town....

"Father Ryan St. Anne claims to be an ordained priest. On Nov. 6, 1996, the Office of the General Secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to all bishops in the United States saying he was not and never has been ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church....

"Ryan St. Anne was born Randell Dean Stocks on April 21, 1953, in Richland Center, Wis. He later changed his name to Ryan P. Scott. Public records show he was married Aug. 28, 1971, in Lafayette, Wis., by a United Methodist minister. His occupation was listed as apprentice beautician. He filed for divorce March 18, 1975, and received custody of a son. Another family then adopted the boy.

"In 1992, he worked as a bookkeeper for the city of Edgerton, Wis. He was arrested for forgery and misconduct in office for cashing a check for $300.97 that should have been for $30.97. The forgery charge was dismissed and he pleaded no contest to the felony misconduct charge. He was put on probation for three years. Holy Rosary Abbey has been located in Wisconsin, North Dakota and Iowa....

"In court records Ryan St. Anne has claimed he is an ordained priest and the church had him change his name after he was raped by a group of priests in Wisconsin while he was a brother."

In 2003, I had one telephone conversation with Ryan St. Anne, in addition to some e-mail correspondence with him. Subsequently, I contacted (via e-mail) Detective Kevin Hughes of the Dane County Sheriff's Office.

Me: "I spoke with Father St. Anne ... I wanted to run a couple of things by you. He stated he was asked to do a 'walk through' at St. Michael's some days after the murder. He said that, when he entered the church itself, the altar had been moved and Father Kunz's vestments/clothing were located near the altar, laying in a kind of circle. Scott also said he was asked to do a 'mock' Latin Mass. Is this accurate?"

Detective Hughes: "I have no knowledge of this, but it is possible that a detective took him into the church."

Me: "Father St. Anne mentioned he had provided to the police the names of the priests who allegedly abused him (in 1976?), and that the police did verify that Father Kunz confronted these priests about the alleged abuse. Father St. Anne said that Father Kunz had been 'threatened' by the bishop of Madison. Is this accurate?"

Detective Hughes: "He did make a report of abuse and nothing was established that Father Kunz was threatened by the bishop."

Me: "Also, during the 'walk through,' Father St. Anne claimed the crime scene had been cleaned up, despite being told prior to his visit that it was still intact. Is this accurate?"

Detective Hughes: "There is no way that he would be allowed into the crime scene before it was completely processed and cleaned. Witnesses are not allowed in an active crime scene."

Me: "Finally, Father St. Anne did give me the name of an ex-priest - Fred Jones - formerly of Madison, who might be residing in California. He said that while Jones had not been one of his abusers per se, Jones was indeed 'one of them' (30 or so priests in this alleged ring). Does that name ring a bell?"

Detective Hughes: "I cannot answer that."

(Father Ryan St. Anne was the subject of two previous columns of mine: http://michnews.com/artman/publish/article_4775.shtml and http://www.michnews.com/artman/publish/article_4897.shtml)

One day, God willing, the truth will come out about this case. I'm just fearful it will be something I won't want to hear.

Contact

Matt Abbott
IL, US
Matt Abbott - Author,

Email

mattcabbott@hotmail.com

Keywords

Catholic, Abbott

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