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34 years after killing a police officer, man faces parole

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WINONA, Minn. (FOX 47) -- The man who shot and killed a Winona County police officer 34 years ago could get a chance at parole next month.

However, that officer's family will do whatever it takes to keep John Kirch behind bars.

The Schneider family is forced to have the constant reminder that John J. Schneider is no longer with them. His life was taken in an instant, and since that fateful day in 1980, there hasn't been one instant Schneiders' wife, Jean, doesn't think about him.

"He was very helpful to everybody, and I miss him every day of my life," says Schneider. "I can't put more into words than that he was just a wonderful man."

John Schneider gave 22 years of service to protect his community. He served as the Sheriff's Investigator before being shot and killed by John Kirch, who now serves a life sentence in Stillwater, Minnesota.

"John is not coming home. We have to live with that. He will not see his grand kids grow up," says Jon Meyer, Schneider's son-in-law. "He will not see his grand kids get married. He will not see any of that. So, it's just another thing and it was all brought on by one man."

Now, every ten years the family must re-live the tragedy again.  They will do that once again in St. Paul in front of a panel on May 12 when Kirch could face parole.

"For us to do this again, it's just us trying to rebury him again," says Meyer.

To get through troubling times, they lean on each other, and the memories of Schneider that will never fade. They even fly a flag in fallen officers' honor.

"We also fly it on September 7, which was the day my dad was killed," says Schneider's daughter, Lori Meyer. "It's just a memorial flag."

Family members say Schneider was loved by his community, whether it be his fellow officers, church members, or strangers.

"People would call him in the middle of the night at home here to ask him for advice," says Jon Meyer.

Come May 12, the family will be armed with nothing but their words, and the letters of others whom they will never know.  However, the Schneider family will never stop fighting for their loved one.

"We know we will do anything it's going to take to keep him locked up," says Meyer. "Period. Nobody, nobody should have to go through this, nobody."

If you would like to support the Schneider family in keeping John Kirch to his life sentence, you can send letters or emails before April 28, 2014.

All letters are confidential and only read by the Minnesota Commissioner of Corrections.

Letters can be sent to:

Lydia Newlin

Victim Assistance Program Director

1450 Energy Park Drive Suite 200

St. Paul, Minnesota 55108

E-Mails can be sent to:

Brittany.Anderson.@state.mn.us

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