Special Report: 30 years since murder of Athens family of 5

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- It's been 30 years since the body of Helen Kunz was found submerged in an icy swamp near Medford.

She was one of five members of a reclusive farm family found murdered. No one was ever convicted for the murders but the sheriff's office says the case is closed because they're confident they know who did it and he is in custody for something else.

The case starts on July 4, 1987. Clarence Kunz, 76; his sisters-- Irene, 81 and Marie, 72 and their nephew, Randy, 30, were found dead in their farm house near Athens.

"Marie was on the steps just going into the house. Randy was laying on the kitchen floor. Irene was sitting in a chair in the living room. Clarence was in the bed,” explained then Sheriff LeRoy Schillinger to media in July 1987.

Their bodies were found by their nephew and Randy's brother, Kenneth Kunz. Investigators said the four had been gunned down execution style. But Kenneth and Randy's mother, 70-year-old Helen Kunz was missing.

Investigators were baffled. Was Helen a suspect? Or a witness? A nationwide search ensued.

"We have about five, six, seven different theories that we are basing the investigation on. And some of them call for the possibility that Helen could be alive and the possibility that she could be dead,” explained Detective Harold Bean in 1987.

Nine months later, her skeletal remains were found about 19 miles from the Kunz's home. But the homicide case becomes somewhat over shadowed by the family's suspected bizarre living habits.

The family home had no running water or a furnace, but investigators discovered large amounts of money hidden in the house. Rumors also circulated that Helen's sons were fathered by her brother and a large pornography collection of VHS tapes and magazines was uncovered in the home.

But even before the discovery of Helen's body, authorities believed they knew who pulled the trigger.

Twenty-two-year-old Chris Jacobs was arrested in late January of that year, but was released from custody just days later.

Then in August 1988, Jacobs is charged with five counts of party to murder. His arrest started one of Marathon County's longest investigations.

Although someone was arrested, this case was just beginning. Our three-part series continues Wednesday as we take you through Jacobs first trial and tell you why it took a second trial to finally keep him behind bars.