MURDER SUSPECT IN COURT — (The Columbian)

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The Columbian  (Vancouver, WA)

May 30, 1996

Author: BRUCE WESTFALL, Columbian staff writer

[]Authorities allege it was simple jealousy that drove one Vancouver man to kill another in December 1994.  Now 17 months later, David Wayne Kunze, 46, appeared in court this morning in a case involving the murder of his ex-wife’s boyfriend and an assault on the man’s son.   Kunze, owner of his own real estate appraisal business, was ordered held without bail by Clark County Superior Court Judge Edwin Poyfair.

Kunze is being held on suspicion of aggravated murder, first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree assault, Deputy Prosecutor Jeannie Bryant told Poyfair.

Michael Foister, a defense attorney appearing on Kunze’s behalf, asked that the first appearance be postponed until next Thursday, and Poyfair agreed. Formal charges have yet to be filed in the case, and yet to be determined is who will represent Kunze, Foister said after the hearing.

Meanwhile, court documents unsealed Wednesday suggest that Kunze was a depressed, obsessed ex-husband who committed the murder in a jealous rage.   Search warrant affidavits in the case prepared last September were finally released Wednesday by the Clark County Prosecutor’s office.

Those affidavits, authored by Clark County homicide detective Erin Allen, note that Kunze has been “the only suspect” in the murder of James McCann and the assault on his son, Tyler, now 14.   At first, the crime at the McCann home, 7317 N.E. 55th Ave., was considered a burglary turned violent.  But the search warrant affidavit says that suspicions soon focused on Kunze.

Warrants were served to search Kunze’s home, 15517 N.E. 50th Circle, and pickup on Sept. 21, 1995, nine months after the crimes. Detectives also took hair samples and an impression of Kunze’s left ear and cheek.  Kunze’s arrest Wednesday, eight months after the search, came after a forensic expert was apparently able to identify an ear print on the victim’s bedroom door as belonging to the defendant.

Late the night of Dec. 15, 1994, Tyler McCann was startled awake by someone striking him. The boy’s description of his assailant was vague, however. The intruder eventually bound the boy with duct tape and rope.  In a nearby bedroom, the attacker rained blows on Tyler McCann’s father, killing him while he slept. An autopsy showed that the attack was so violent it shattered the right side of McCann’s skull into 26 pieces.  He was tied up with duct tape, as well, apparently after he died. Sometime the next morning, Tyler McCann was able to crawl through the house. Unable to rouse his father, he struggled onto his front doorstep where he was found by a passerby.

The intruder attempted to disguise the murder as a burglary, sheriff’s detectives believe. Various items were taken from the home, including jewelry, stereo equipment, James McCann’s wallet and McCann’s pickup.   The 1985 Nissan truck was discovered several days later in the parking lot of a north Portland restaurant with the keys dangling from the driver’s side door.

A 50-page search warrant affidavit notes that victim McCann and Kunze’s ex-wife, Diana, had a relationship and planned to be married. Various people who knew David Kunze said he was troubled by his wife’s new relationship. Their divorce became final in April of 1994. But the couple had been married for 17 years and together for nine years before that. They have two children. As their relationship went sour, Diana Kunze said her ex-husband began taking anti-depressants. He was arrested in a domestic violence incident after he smashed her car windshield with a baseball bat, according to the affidavit.

The document contains two long letters from Kunze to his ex-wife apparently written in the weeks after the murder. He writes that “the past two years has been a living hell for me,” and described himself as sexually impotent, lonely, depressed and scared. He believed that his phone was tapped and his mail was intercepted. He wrote that he wanted detectives to “quit bothering me and screwing around with my life.”

Detectives questioned Kunze a total of 12 hours in the days after the murders.   He admitted he was jealous of McCann. He also acknowledged that he paid a private investigator $ 25 to trace the license plate of McCann’s truck to obtain the victim’s address.

The week of the murder he even drove to the McCann home and peered into the garage because, he told investigators, he thought McCann was stalking him.   A Seattle Police Department investigator trained in criminal profiling told local authorities that whoever killed McCann displayed a “high level of emotion” in the crime and the killing was motivated by “something personal.”  In interviews with police shortly after the murder, Kunze denied involvement, saying, “I still have emotions for Diana, but I certainly wouldn’t kill someone.”

Kunze told officers he was alone the night of the murder, painting in his garage, spending some time looking for his father in Vancouver-area motels and later buying cigarettes at a store near his home.  On Sept. 8, 1995, a boater on the Columbia River discovered a packet of James McCann’s credit cards half buried on an island beach under the Interstate 205 Bridge.   Detectives believe the murderer likely tossed the items off the bridge, suggesting that the break-in at the McCann home was not a true burglary.

As of last September, there appeared to be little other physical evidence besides the ear print that ties Kunze to the assault and murder. Though police seized two baseball bats and a small “fishwacker” club from Kunze’s home, none of the items appeared to be connected with the killing.

Record Number:  1996151032