So, this one is different. The Kunz family lived near the itty bitty town of Athens, and its safe to say that they were, well, a bit odd. The family consisted of six: there were four siblings, 76 year old Clarence, 81 year old Irene, 70 year old Helen, and Marie was 72; on top of that, Helen’s two adult sons, Randy and Kenneth, shared the family dwellings. Together this family lived in a tiny rundown farm house in the woods – well, most of them. Kenneth lived in a little trailer next to the tiny house on the family’s 108 acre property.
They were a family of severe hermits; neighbors living nearby knew next to nothing of the reclusive family, and many weren’t even aware of their existence at all! Kenny was a bit better socialized than the others as he’d worked at a local mill (nobody else in the family had ever held a job nor did they ever leave the property) and sometimes he went out for drinks at a local pub. That being said, he was still painfully shy and extremely socially awkward.
The family did not keep up with the times, they still lived the same lifestyle as their grandmother. They cooked on one of those old wood-burning stoves, used an outhouse in the woods, and didn’t even own a heater or furnace. It’s truly a wonder they didn’t freeze to death 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 pornography was enjoyed together as a family, mind you – sort of like other families enjoy Monopoly or Uno.
The family matriarch, Helen, had fallen pregnant with her eldest, Kenneth, when she was just a girl of fifteen. 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 whilst the other three siblings slept together in the living room.
But wait, it gets crazier! Years earlier, the mother of the now elderly siblings had been murdered in the same farmhouse where the family still resided. Her life had been stolen by one her own sons as she’d 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, and several had been institutionalized multiple times.
So, on the 4th of July in 1987, right after the firework show, someone walked into the farmhouse and shot four members of the family in the head with a .22 shotgun. All were discovered deceased inside the home – everyone except the matriarch, Helen, who was simply 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 whilst his entire family had been at home fighting for their lives. Poor Kenny was the one who discovered his family’s butchered corpses.
Nine months later, Helen’s remains were discovered in a frozen creek about 20 miles away from the farmhouse. She’d been kidnapped, possibly raped, and shot in the head.
Police immediately brought Kenny in for questing. The man was painfully shy, and very easily intimidated; he’d 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 aforementioned pornography, the incest was out in the open, it was definitely 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 as the long man had purchased a couple of vehicles from the family. Despite the fact that there was no solid evidence which proved him guilty, and the fact that he even had an airtight alibi for July 4th, in 1989 he 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?
Though investigators still had very little evidence to use against Chris, this time they had a secret weapon: Chris’s ex girlfriend, Stacy Weis. Stacy had claimed that, overcome with guilt, Chris had confessed to his crimes to her back in 1991. She stated that Chris had told her that the family had approximately $20,000.00 just lying around the house, which 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: if she’d testify against her ex, she’d never be charged with the robbery hanging over her head. After Stacy testified, Chris was convicted of the kidnapping charge; he swears he’s innocent, and has plenty of supporters, nearly all who have researched the case 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 (the one who’d gone missing after the murders) had purchased a .22 just days before the massacre – 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?
On February 4th of 2020 a then 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. Sadly he remains incarcerated. I’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!
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