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Discovery Of Body Still Leaves Unanswered Questions

April 3, 1988 GMT

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) _ After investigators found four people shot to death at an Athens farm and a 70-year-old woman missing last July, the sheriff said, ″You find me Helen, and I’ll probably tell you what happened.″

Last week, investigators found bones in a marsh that they believe are those of the missing Helen Kunz.

And now Marathon County Sheriff LeRoy Schillinger says it will probably be some time before he can tell the public what happened.

No arrests have been made based on the discovery, but Taylor County Chief Deputy Sheriff William Breneman predicted there would be charges.


″I’m not sure exactly how soon, but they’re coming,″ he said.

Miss Kunz’s son Kenneth says he arrived home after a night of drinking on July 5 and found his uncle, two aunts and his brother dead, each shot with a .22-caliber weapon. His mother was missing.

″There was no reason for them to do this to my family,″ Kenneth Kunz said last week after the discovery of the remains believed to be his mother. ″I hope they find who done it.″

Investigators ruled out robbery as a motive after they found about $1,000 in the home.

Neighbors knew little about the family that lived on a 108-acre farm in a wooden house off a dirt road in central Wisconsin. The family rarely invited people into the cluttered house but did most of their business at the door, neighbors said. Kenneth Kunz, 55, lived in a trailer next to the house.

The house had a wood stove and no indoor plumbing. But merchants said Helen Kunz had bought a videocassette recorder and microwave oven for the family.

Hardware store owner Gale Weiler said the woman also bought .22-caliber ammunition a few weeks before the killings and complained that her family watched ″dirty movies″ on the VCR. She said the ammunition was for her younger son, 30-year-old Randy Kunz, to shoot birds.

″You find me Helen and I’ll probably tell you what happened,″ Schillinger said just after the killings.

Miss Kunz, who never married, was described by people in town as the family matriarch who paid the bills and did laundry while Randy waited in the car. Randy also accompanied her to high school sports games.

Miss Kunz’s sisters, Irene, 81, and Marie, 72, were seen less frequently by neighbors, who remembered the women working in their garden and wearing old- fashioned clothes. Their brother, Clarence, 76, had been ill and had retired from farming.

As investigators probed the family’s past, questions of incest, which first arose during a 1930s rape trial, resurfaced and have yet to be solved.

Lawyers raised the possibility of incest during the trial of a 40-year- old neighbor whom Helen Kunz, then 15 and pregnant, had accused of attacking her. Her mother denied the incest accusations and the neighbor was convicted in 1933 of statutory rape.

Kenneth Kunz told the Milwaukee Sentinel in an interview after the killings that he thought Clarence Kunz was his father.

Authorities based their identification of the remains found last week on clothing - ″some tattered, some scattered, some with″ skeletal remains - found in the marsh about 16 miles north of the Kunz farm, Lt. Elwood Mason said.

The bones and clothing were taken to the state crime laboratory in Madison for forensic tests, expected to take several days.

Around six months after the killings, police questioned several people and held a 21-year-old man in jail over a weekend for interrogation. But they released him without charges and no one else was arrested.

In mid-March, investigators gathered reporters from as far away as Minneapolis and Milwaukee and escorted them to a manure pit, where authorities dug for three days without finding any evidence.

Police said a detective found the remains last week on the basis of information from an informant whom they would not identify.

Mason and Schillinger said there are more than one but fewer than a dozen suspects in the case, but would not say if the discovery of the remains eliminated any suspects or drew their focus to anyone in particular.

″I don’t think it adds any new questions,″ said Mason, who has been heading the investigation. ″We may have eliminated some. You don’t know.″