Wisconsin February 02, 2018
The Tiny Town In Wisconsin With A Terribly Creepy Past
Athens is a small town of about 1100 people west of Wausau. For the most part, it’s a small, sleepy farm town. But back in 1987, it was the location of a group of murders and the story just continued to get weirder and creepier as more details emerged.
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The Kunz family lived on a primitive farm outside of town. On the night of the 4th of July, 1987, elderly siblings Clarence, Irene and Marie Kunz and their nephew Randy were shot in the head. The siblings' mother, Helen, went missing.
Another sibling who lived elsewhere on the property in a trailer was the one who discovered the bodies the next morning. He was the initial suspect in the murders, but was later cleared of suspicion.
The investigation into the crime uncovered the Kuntz family's sordid past. They were hoarders, and the house they lived in was as crude as could be. There was no running water or heat. Large sums of money were found stashed all over the place, as well as large amounts of pornography.
Helen's body was found nine months after the initial murder discovery in a frozen bog not far from town. She had been killed in the same manner as the rest of the family.
Investigations revealed likely incest among the family, and a later biography revealed a history of mental illness. Combined, these revelations paint a picture of a family not particularly well-equipped for the world. It's said the local community looked down on the Kuntzes. The animosity is thought to have dated back to when Helen was 15 and accused a neighbor of rape. That family was ruined and Helen was made a scapegoat. The way the Kuntzes lived added fuel to the community's dislike of the family.
The main suspect in the murders became a local man who had purchased used cars from the family. He was acquitted at trial because of a lack of solid evidence.
After the man's acquittal, his ex-girlfriend said that the suspect had admitted to the murders. He could not be retried for those, but he is currently serving a sentence after being convicted of kidnapping Helen. He maintains that he is innocent.
Though the authorities are happy with their likely suspect and his conviction for the kidnapping, there is still plenty of hearsay and gossip about the murders. There's the local woman who said she saw a car using a spotlight alongside the property the night of the murders. Whoever was driving the car shone the light in her face to make sure she couldn't identify the car. There's a theory that the murders were the result of a drug deal gone wrong. Another farmhouse murder that happened nearly 20 years later and less than 10 miles away is also unsolved, leaving some to wonder if they are linked.
It's unlikely that this gruesome story will ever be solved, and little Athens is now infamous for the murders that happened there. The details of how the Kuntzes lived and the assumptions about their twisted lives were perfect tabloid fodder, making this small town crime rather infamous. But the crime remains unsolved. Add that to the other unsolved murder and there's a definite creepy air around Athens.
Looking for more scary real-life Wisconsin stories? Check out
This County In Wisconsin Was One Of The Most Dangerous Places In The Nation In The 1950s.