By Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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 Jan 24, 2019


More often than we’d like to believe, people get away with murder. As cases grow cold, cops retire. Witnesses die. Evidence disappears. Unsolved, a true crime podcast series from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, guides listeners through these real-life mysteries, uncovering new clues along the way. Season three of Unsolved tells the story of Father Alfred Kunz, whose throat was slit inside St. Michael School in 1998. Some believe his death was slinked to his battles against evil. Others believe his all-too-human flaws were to blame. Season two of Unsolved, released in 2017, examines the case of toddler Michelle Manders, who vanished from her bedroom in the middle of the night in 1981. Did she wander alone into the darkness? Or was she kidnapped? Season one of Unsolved, released in 2015, explores the circumstances surrounding the death of 14-year-old John Zera, who disappeared from Franklin High School in 1976. The seven episodes follow investigators through decades of dead ends as they hold on to hope of finding the killer. Subscribe to Unsolved on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio or wherever you get your podcasts. For more information on the series, visit http://jsonline.com/unsolved.

Episode Date
11: Bonus episode: Unsolved Live
Still have questions about the murder of Father Alfred Kunz? Want to hear more about what was going on behind the scenes of the podcast and of the investigation? Kunz's good friend Peter Kelly and retired detective Dawn Johnson joined host Gina Barton at a live event, where they provided some answers.
Apr 24, 2019
10: 'Forgive offenses'
Twenty years after Kunz’s murder, members of his former parish gathered at Mass to pray for his soul. Police, who had launched a social media campaign in connection with the anniversary, scanned the crowd for their suspects.
Mar 27, 2019
9: 'Bear Wrongs Patiently'
Detective Wayne Honer was among those who did not believe teacher Brian Jackson killed Father Kunz. While Detective Kevin Hughes was chasing Jackson, Honer focused on a different suspect.
Mar 20, 2019
8: 'Comfort the Sorrowful'
Immediately after Father Alfred Kunz’s death, St. Michael teacher Brian Jackson moved in with Kunz’s best friend, Father Charles Fiore. Detective Kevin Hughes was convinced Jackson was the killer. Support for this episode comes from Audible. Go to audible.com/un to listen to your favorite books.
Mar 13, 2019
Introducing: Case Closed
Here is another true crime podcast you might like. Season one of Case Closed tells the story of Erin Corwin, a young military wife who was murdered in 2014\. She was living with her husband, Jon, a Marine corporal, when she left to scout hiking trails in Joshua Tree National Park. She never came back.
Mar 08, 2019
7: 'Shelter the Homeless'
A Dane County sheriff’s deputy came to believe his nephew, Joe Cavanaugh, was Father Kunz’s killer. The attack on Kunz was similar to one Cavanaugh was believed to have committed against his grandfather.
Mar 06, 2019
6: 'Counsel the Doubtful'
St. Michael had been robbed in the months before Father Alfred Kunz’s death, and police believed the robbery and Kunz’s murder may have been connected.
Feb 27, 2019
5: 'Pray for the Living and the Dead '
Police have evidence that Father Alfred Kunz had performed exorcisms without the support of the church hierarchy, which official Catholic exorcists characterize as risky and foolish. Support for this episode comes from Care/Of. For 50% off your first month of personalized Care/Of vitamins, visit takecareof.com and use promo code MJS50.
Feb 20, 2019
4: 'Admonish the Sinner'
Father Alfred Kunz and Father Charles Fiore had reportedly been investigating sexual misconduct by priests without authorization from church leadership. Their efforts crossed the state line into Illinois.
Feb 13, 2019
3: 'Feed the Hungry'
Father Alfred Kunz met Mora Smith at Brian’s Diner, where she often served him breakfast. The two became close, with him helping her spiritually and financially. After Kunz’s death, police interrogated her and her two young sons. Support for this episode comes from Audible. Go to audible.com/un to listen to your favorite books.
Feb 06, 2019
2: Instruct the Ignorant
On the last night of his life, Father Alfred Kunz taped a radio show with co-host Peter Kelly and best friend Father Charles Fiore. Sometime after 10 p.m., Kunz was involved a struggle, which ended with an unknown assailant cutting his throat.
Jan 30, 2019
1: Bury the Dead
Father Alfred Kunz was murdered on the night of March 3, 1998\. His throat was slit and his body was found in a hallway at St. Michael School in Dane the next morning. Kunz clung to the Latin Mass and the old ways of the Catholic church. His murder remains unsolved.
Jan 23, 2019
Season Three: The Devil You Know
The body of Fr. Alfred Kunz was found on the floor of St. Michael School in Dane on March 4, 1998\. Twenty years later, his murder remains unsolved.
Dec 13, 2018
7: 'I'll see her in heaven'
Police investigate Edward Wayne Edwards in connection with Jefferson County’s unsolved deaths. Edwards once worked at the Concord House, where Timothy Hack and Kelly Drew disappeared from while attending a wedding reception. Edwards, a con man who wrote a book in the 1970s about his transformation from criminal to upstanding citizen, ultimately confesses to killing Hack, Drew and three other people. He denies killing Michelle. Jan comes to accept that she will never know what really happened to Michelle.
Oct 18, 2017
7: A troubled history
Police investigate Teri Mueller’s husband, Joe, who has a long criminal record and whom police suspect may have been involved in the death of his son from his first marriage. His account of the events surrounding Michelle’s death don’t match Jan’s and the results of his polygraph are inconclusive, but police can never find the evidence to tie him to the crime.
Oct 11, 2017
6: Cults and witchcraft
Tipster Sharon Blasing gives police some of her ex-husband James Dunn’s books, which discuss black magic and the practice of baptizing Satanists with water in which un-baptized children have drowned. Police eliminate Dunn as a suspect in Michelle’s death when they realize he was in jail at the time of her disappearance, but wonder if he was involved in the deaths of 19-year-old high school sweethearts Timothy Hack and Kelly Drew, who disappeared the year before Michelle. Flashback to a point earlier in the investigation into Michelle’s disappearance, when police suspected her mother could be involved.
Oct 04, 2017
5: The girl in the café
Private investigator Norbert Kurczewski hires a police artist to come up with a sketch of the couple who was with the little girl in the Black Earth Café. One of the waitresses is hypnotized, but she can’t come up with any additional information about them. Teri Mueller tells Kurczewski that shortly after she opened the door for Michelle, she saw the little girl in the back seat of a white car. A woman named Sharon Blasing tells police the man in the sketch resembles her ex-husband.
Sep 27, 2017
4: Missing mom
Jan Manders can’t accept the finding that her daughter’s death was an accident. She walks away on her daughter Jennifer’s fifth birthday and declines into substance abuse and mental illness. Jennifer and her older brother, Christopher, are pretty much left to raise themselves. Jan hires a private detective, Norbert Kurczewski, to investigate Michelle’s disappearance. Kurczewski tracks down a waitress and several patrons at a restaurant in Black Earth, about 70 miles away, who say they saw Michelle there during the time she was missing.
Sep 20, 2017
3: Where's Michelle?
A couple of months before Michelle Manders disappeared, her mother Jan befriended a woman named Teri Mueller. Teri stayed at the Manders’ house one night when her husband failed to pick her up at 10 p.m. The next morning, both she and Michelle were gone. Two and a half weeks after Michelle disappeared, Teri tells police she opened the door for Michelle that night. They base their classification of accidental death largely on her statement, even though she has an intellectual disability and suffers from schizophrenia that sometimes causes delusions.
Sep 13, 2017
2: The shadow man
Watertown police investigate Michelle’s death on their own for 24 hours and find her mother’s purse about a block away. Police and her family search for the free-spirited little girl. Meanwhile, Michelle’s 4-year-old sister Jennifer tells them that on the night Michelle disappeared, a man came into their bedroom.
Sep 06, 2017
1: 'Not my baby'
Two-and-a-half-year-old Michelle Manders disappears from her Watertown home in the middle of the night in October 1981. About three weeks later, her body is found in the Rock River, which winds through town. Hers was the fifth in a series of strange disappearances and deaths in Jefferson County over a seven-year period. At first, police suspect she was abducted. But after her body is found, officials deem it an accidental drowning. The district attorney at the time doubts that conclusion, and a review by the Journal Sentinel reveals shortcomings in the investigation.
Aug 30, 2017
Season Two: A toddler’s death, a tangled trail
Coming Aug. 30: Authorities quickly ruled the death of 2 ½-year-old Michelle Manders an accident. But there were shortcomings in the investigation. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigates: Did Michelle wander off in the middle of the night? Or was she kidnapped?
Aug 16, 2017
7: A new beginning
A new detective takes over the John Zera homicide investigation and discovers a serial killer with Wisconsin ties.
Dec 16, 2015
6: Blinded by science
By 2009, Detective Kent Schoonover fears the chance to solve John Zera's murder has slipped away, in part because the eccentric medical examiner who did the autopsy made a mess of it.
Dec 09, 2015
5: What did we miss?
Two years after John Zera was murdered, an anonymous tip about a Franklin High substitute teacher with an unusual interest in boys' feet would generate a new prime suspect.
Dec 02, 2015
4: Citizen detective
The day after John Zera's body was found, Daniel Acker was found standing over the crime scene in Whitnall Park. His alibi for the day of John's death was shaky, but police dismissed him. Acker would strike up a correspondence with the Zera family and start his own investigation into the case, pointing the finger at a mental patient at the facility where he worked.
Nov 25, 2015
3: A chilling discovery
In 2009, police investigating the 1976 homicide of John Zera catch a break when a swim coach is arrested for child molesting. A search of the man's condo reveals clues about John's case.
Nov 17, 2015
2: Where do we start?
Before John Zera, Hales Corners Detective Howard Hingiss had only handled one murder case. While he narrowed down the suspect list, with the help of the F.B.I. and other departments, he would never discover the identity of the murderer. Twenty-five years after his retirement, and almost 40 years after the crime, the question of who killed John remains unsolved.
Nov 11, 2015
1: Have you seen Johnny?
On Feb. 20, 1976, freshman John Zera disappeared from a high school in suburban Milwaukee. In the early days, John's family hoped for his safe return. Later, they prayed whoever was responsible for his disappearance would be brought to justice. Finally, they clung to hope that advances in technology or someone with a guilty conscience would someday offer an explanation of what happened to their Johnny. And why. In this episode, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Gina Barton looks at how the case began and what drew her to it.
Nov 04, 2015