by ZACH KAYSER
The convicted murderer of Winona County Investigator John Schneider will spend a few more of his twilight years in prison after his parole was denied for the fifth time.
In 1981, a jury found that John Arthur Kirch shot and killed Schneider, one of the officers responding to a domestic disturbance in Goodview on Sept. 7 the year prior. Schneider was a grandfather and U.S. Marine veteran of World War II.
Since Kirch was sentenced before Minnesota extended the state’s mandatory minimums to 30 years served, he has been eligible for parole since 1997, when he completed 17 years of prison time.
Kirch, now 74, resides at Minnesota Correctional Facility Faribault, a minimum/medium security facility that is the largest prison in the state system.
For 26 years, the surviving family of John Schneider has repeatedly had to talk about the pain of the murder when Kirch came up for parole. The last time was in 2017.
Jon Meyer, Schneider’s son-in-law, has acted as a spokesperson for the family during the reviews. Meyer said Kirch was denied parole at the latest hearing this month and will be incarcerated for a further five years. A spokesperson with the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) confirmed Kirch was denied parole.
Meyer said Friday the years of fighting Kirch’s possible parole had taken their toll on the Schneider family. “We’re tired of fighting this thing, but we’ll do it as long as it takes,” Meyer said.
Meyer added that this year was sadly different, since John’s wife, Jean, passed away in May not knowing whether her husband’s killer would go free. “She’s been alone for 41 years since this has happened,” Meyer said.
Because of her connection to John, officers from a number of local law enforcement agencies including the Winona County Sheriff's Department, the Winona Police Department, and the Minnesota State Patrol were at her funeral, Meyer said, thanking them.
Meyer also made a point of thanking the members of the community who had supported the Schneider family by contacting the parole board to advocate for denying Kirch’s parole.