The disturbing misdeeds of a Utah man accused of raping a 13-year-old girl were exposed this week when the man's roommate accidentally shot a third roommate during an impromptu mouse hunt, police said.
Paul Daniel Kunzler, 34, is being held without bail in the Salt Lake County Jail on suspicion of two counts of rape, three counts of sodomy and three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
The bizarre case began to unfold about 2 a.m. Tuesday, when police were dispatched to a call of an accidental shooting at a home in the 2500 block of W. Brucemont Drive in Taylorsville.
"When officers and fire personnel arrived, they discovered a 28-year-old male that had been shot in the abdomen," Taylorsville City Police Sgt. Tracy Wyant told The Huffington Post.
Wyant said that the incident took a bizarre twist when the victim's 27-year-old roommate explained the circumstances of the shooting.
"The victim's roommate had witnessed a mouse run across a counter and shot at the mouse with a 9 mm handgun," Wyant said. "The round went through a wall and into an adjacent restroom, striking the victim."
The victim, who suffered a punctured lung and other internal injuries, was transported to a local hospital in critical condition. He was later upgraded to fair condition.
According to police, alcohol was determined to be a factor in the shooting.
The already bizarre case took another unusual turn when police conducted a search of the home, which is shared by four adult male roommates, to ensure no one else had been injured by the shooting. It was during that welfare search that authorities made a shocking discovery in the basement.
"[Officers] discovered a 13-year-old female hiding in a closet," Wyant said. "It was quickly learned that this 13-year-old did not belong to any of these adult men."
Through police questioning, detectives learned that Kunzler had allegedly been sexually involved with the girl. That alleged abuse, police said, had been going on for about four months.
"At this point, it appears the young female victim had been sneaking out of her home, which is about 12 to 15 miles away from where this incident occurred, during [the course of] this relationship," Wyant said.
The victim's parents told police that they were unaware of the situation. Investigators believe the victim met Kunzler through a common friend. Other than to say the victim is not related to Kunzler, police are not releasing any further details on the association between the two.
Kunzler's three roommates have denied knowledge of the relationship. One of the men, Zach Baker, expressed his surprise during an interview with KSTU-TV.
"I'd never seen the girl there before and I don't know how long she'd been there. They said she'd been hiding in a closet and that creeps me out," Baker said, adding, "I knew the guy was weird, but I didn't expect anything like that to happen."
According to Wyant, detectives are still trying to determine what, if anything, anybody knew about the relationship between Kunzler and the young girl.
"We don't know yet," he said. "Certainly, that's one part of the investigation that we are looking into. Obviously, if we can prove the roommates or anyone else was aware of the sexual abuse and did not come forward, we will certainly look at filing charges on those individuals."
The roommate who fired the handgun has not been arrested. The prosecutor's office is examining the incident to determine whether any criminal charges should be filed against him.
Wyant said the case is the most bizarre one he has been involved in during his 15-year career. Prior to this, another recent case had been the talk of the town.
"The day before [the shooting], we were in the national news because we had a case where a lady sprayed an ice cream truck driver in the face with a cleaning chemical. Now we have this. It's like, what the hell is going on?" Wyant said.
And, what of the mouse -- the small mammal at the center of the entire case?
"I've had more inquires on the mouse than anything," Wyant said. "It is my understanding he missed the mouse, and it fled."
Regardless of the details, the creature is considered by some to be a rodent of great valor.
"We had one call suggesting the mouse receive an award," Wyant said. The veteran police officer added, "I guess the mouse is the hero in this matter."