So, this one is different.
The Kunz family lived near the itty bitty town of Athens, and its safe to say that they were a bit odd. The family consisted of six: there were 4 siblings, Clarence, 76, Irene, 81, Helen, 70, Marie, 72, and Helen’s 2 adult sons, Randy and Kenneth. They lived together in this tiny rundown farm house in the woods – well, most of them. Kenneth lived in a little trailer next to the house on the family’s 108 acre property. They were a family of severe hermits; those living nearby knew next to nothing of the reclusive family, many weren’t even aware of their existence at all. Kenny was a bit better socialized than the others, he worked at a local mill (nobody else in the family ever held a job or even left the property) and sometimes went out for drinks. That said, he was still painfully shy and very socially awkward.
The family matriarch, Helen, had fallen pregnant with Kenneth when she was just 15. She’d blamed a neighbor boy of rape; this boy was convicted of the crime, but both Kenny and his younger brother, Randy, had always been told that their biological father was really their uncle, Clarence. Yeah, the entire family were incestuous. Helen and her son, Randy, slept in the same bed every night; the other 3 siblings slept together in the living room.
The family did not keep up with the times, they still lived the same life as their grandmother. They cooked on one of those old woodburning stoves, used an outhouse in the woods, they didn’t even own a heater or furnace. It’s a wonder they didn’t freeze during those severe Wisconsin winters. The farmhouse, trailer, & property were all in total squalor; there was trash everywhere, with no running water. To top things off, they were hoarders with junk cars, trash, and useless objects everywhere. The family’s favorite thing to collect was porn, and mountains of magazines and videos which had been delivered to them by mail. This porn was enjoyed together as a family, mind you – sort of like other families enjoy Monopoly or Uno.
Years before, the mother of the now elderly siblings had been murdered in the same farmhouse where the family still resided. She had been murdered by one her own sons, as she lay sleeping in bed; the murderous son had been sent to a mental institution. Low IQ and mental illness were very common amongst the family, several had been institutionalized.
On 4th of July, in 1987, right after the firework show, someone walked into the farmhouse and shot 4 members of the family in the head with a .22 shotgun. All were discovered dead inside the home, except the matriarch, Helen, who was missing. The elderly woman was gone without a trace. The only unharmed Kunz was Kenneth; he had been at the local pub tying one on while his entire family were being murdered. Kenny was the one who discovered the grisly crime scene.
9 months later, Helen’s remains were found in a frozen creek about 20 miles away from the farmhouse. She’d been kidnapped, possibly raped, & shot in the head.
Police brought Kenny in for questing. He was shy, and very easily intimidated; the man had nearly no people skills and really couldn’t tell investigators much of anything. He did admit to the ongoing incest, and told investigators that he knew his mother had been sleeping with her own brother and their son. As with the porn, the incest was out in the open, it was not hidden.
Police soon ruled Kenny out as a suspect; they didn’t think the man mentally or emotionally capable of pulling off a crime of this magnitude.
Soon a petty criminal named Chris Jacobs became the main suspect. Chris had purchased a couple of vehicles from the family. Despite the fact that there was no solid evidence which proved him guilty, and he even had an alibi for July 4th, in 1989 the young man was tried for the murders. The prosecution knew it wasn’t looking good for them, so right before the case ended, the kidnapping charge was removed. Chris was ultimately acquitted of all 5 murders. Years later, in 1998, the day before the statute of limitations ran out, Chris was charged with kidnapping Helen. Again. Sounds an awful lot like double jeopardy, doesn’t it?
They still had very little evidence against Chris, but this time they had a witness. Chris’s ex girlfriend, Stacy Weis, claimed that, overcome with guilt, he had confessed to her back in 1991. According to Stacy, Chris told her that the family had approximately $20,000 just lying around the house. That would’ve been his motive. Nevermind the fact that Stacy wasn’t the most reliable witness as she was in a good deal of trouble for robbery at the time. She struck a deal with the prosecution: testify against Chris, and she’d never be charged with robbery. After Stacy testified, Chris was convicted of the kidnapping charge; he swears he’s innocent, and has plenty of supporters, most believe him to be wrongly convicted.
The leading murder theory is that Randy had been selling drugs. He came up short on money, so someone took revenge by murdering his entire family. The murders are still officially unsolved. Researching this, there are a lot of things which don’t add up. For instance, Helen had purchased a .22 just days before the murders – the same kind of firearm which was used to murder the family. Did Helen know there was trouble coming, or did she kill her family, wander off, then commit suicide? And another thing: 22K was found lying around the home at the time of the murders. If Chris killed the family for money, why leave such a large sum behind?
There is an update in this case. Earlier this year a 53 year old Chris was released from prison, but arrested again the very same day for a violation. He absolutely refused to sign any paperwork, nor would not meet with a parole officer. Though the man has not caused any trouble, Chris feels that going along with these rules would show guilt, and he strictly maintains his innocence. He remains incarcerated.
We’ll keep an eye out for more updates, and I’ll let you know when something changes. I’d really love your opinion on this one, it’s such an interesting case! Hoping you’re all doing well.