Fatal Stabbing Leads To Lots Of Questions

Jackson County Sheriff's investigators say Clarence Kunkel was stabbed several times in the chest last Sunday night at a home on Tammy Lane in Escatawpa. But they don't know why.

"It's domestic involved, we know that for a fact," Lt. Mick Sears of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department said. "Was it planned? We don't know."

Sears says Kunkel was visiting a woman who lived in the house where the stabbing occurred. He says she was mutual friends with Kunkel and Donald Hughes, the man suspected of killing Kunkel. Investigators think Hughes showed up at the house around 6:30 or 7 Sunday night.

"He allegedly showed up at the house with the deceased's either ex or wife that he had recently been separated from, something like that. Some kind of fight ensued in which Mr. Kunkel received the knife stabs to the chest and Donald Hughes fled."

Sears says they think Hughes may be in or near Daytona Beach, Fla., where he was a construction worker, and Sears says the victim's wife, Marla Kunkel, may be with him. Investigators want to talk to her too.

"We're pretty sure that Marla Kunkel left with Donald Hughes. We know he left the house with her. We're not ruling out maybe a kidnapping but that's far fetched at this time. We believe she left on her own accord," Sears said.

Tammy Lane is an older neighborhood, and one person who lives there told us the murder is out of character for the quiet surroundings. Jay Mullis lives two doors down from the house where the murder occurred.

"Everybody knows everybody else and they were the only strangers here and they'd only lived here for maybe a month," Mullis said.

Sears says the two people who lived in the house on Tammy Lane may have witnessed Kunkel's murder, but like Marla Kunkel and Donald Hughes, they too have disappeared.