Good afternoon those of you who have tuned into Voices, past, present,and future. It is definitely raining here where I am, and it is the perfect day to pop some popcorn and get your favorite beverage to settle in for this bizzare, true story.
Join me in the journey of the Kunz Family Mass Murders.
A small town of about 1,000 or so residents, Athens, Mi. A family appearing to be just like any other, settle in after the Independence Day fireworks, July 4, 1987. A ramshackled farm house, filthy, full of a vast sum of hidden money, a stash of “dirty movies” and rumors of incest all revealed when the following morning, four members of the Kunz family were found murdered, and the fifth family member was nowhere to be found.
Prior to their deaths, the Kunz family lived a secluded and isolated life, creating a baffling mystery around who could have killed them. Four family members were found with .22 caliber bullet holes in their heads. The first to discover this carnage was Kenneth Kunz, Randy Kunz’s brother (one of the victims). Upon discovery of his murdered family Kenneth noticed Helen Kunz (his mother) was missing and he had no idea where she could be.
This farmhouse was considered uninhabitable as it had no running water, its only heat source was a single wood-burning stove, that was also used for cooking. The Kunz family were considered hoarders as every corner of this rotting estate was trash littered. Despite having a few modern day conveniences, television and VCR, when the home was searched, an enormous library of sexually explicit videotapes and magazines were found, after the murders.
Weeks prior to her disappearance, Helen Kunz went into a store to purchase an electric toaster, mentioning to the store clerk that she was angry with her family for waching these “dirty movies” on the VCR without her, which furthered the polices’ theory that the family watched these movies together as a family.
It was later thought that incest was going on within the family. Helen had slept in the same bed as her adult son Randy, and the other three: Clarence, Marie, and Irene slept together in the living room. Rumors surrounded Kenny’s parentage. Becoming pregnant in 1933, a man named Frank Gumz, who had been Helen’s neighbor, was convicted of raping her. Although rumors did circluate that Clarence was the real father due to their unusually close relationship.
Now I know, yes, this is indeed a weird story, yet everything I tell you is true (to my knowledge). This makes for an interesting read, so please, CONTINUE!
Serving to further complicate this story, was this 70-year-old woman, Helen Kunz, capable of commiting these murders? No, her body was discovered nine months later near a creek in Medford, WI. This was a new grisly piece of evidence that only complicated a baffling case further.
While police were investigating there they couldn’t find any connections of this family to the outside world. The only thing known was that they were hoarders living in a ramshackled house on 108 acres of land. None of them held jobs, yet over $20,000 dollars was found stashed throughout their home. Making the case even stranger was the fact that whoever murdered them didn’t take this money, some of which was hidden in plain sight.
During a conversation with a clerk at the local Weiler Hardware Store, Helen purchased .22 caliber bullets claiming they were for her son, who was going to kill some blackbirds on the property. This left the possibility open that perhaps Helen killed her family and then took her own life.
Kenneth Kunz was not a suspect in these murders as he was considered to have a low IQ, and was painfully shy. He had little edge and no motive causing the police to move onto other possibilities.
The Kunz family had a clear case of mental instability. The parents of Helen, Irene, Clarence, and Marie, in 1905 had been living with their in-laws. Anna (the mother) had returned home from work only to discover that her husbands brother had bludgeoned her mother-in-law to death. Anna’s husband had another brother who spent a good portion of his life in a mental institution. After murdering his mother, both brothers were together in the institution.
Blood Relative: Portrait of a Mass Murder, written by Crocker Stephenson, includes more details of the murders that were never released. It documents the individual autopsies for each of the Kunz family, photographs of the home, as well as police transcripts with Kenny Kunz.
Chris Jacobs III, was considered a prime suspects. He was a small-time criminal, and the only non-family member to interact with the Kunz family, previously interacting with them over the purchase of a vehicle. There was a brief trial and he was aquitted due to lack of evidence. An ex-girlfriend of Jacobs came forward in 1993, claiming to have heard Jacobs’ confession.
With “Double Jeapardy” in play, regardless of the new evidece, a murder charge now off the table, prosecutors were able to charge Jacobs with the kidnapping and imprisonment of Helen Kunz. He received a 31-year sentence.
I hope you thoroughly enjoyed traveling with Voices, past, present, and future into this bizzare murder of the Kunz family.