Chris Jacobs

 The Athens man convicted in a 1987 kidnapping will continue to serve time in prison at his own request.

Chris Jacobs, 53, was released from prison on Feb. 4, after completing his 31 year sentence. 

He was taken into custody in Marathon County on the same day. On June 2, Jacobs was transferred back to prison.

Marathon County Jail Administrator Sandra La Du told WSAW, Jacobs made it clear to the Department of Corrections that he was not interested in participating in parole. He refused to sign or acknowledge his rules, didn’t want to meet with probation representative, and said that instead he wished to return to prison to serve out the reminder of his time.

In 1988, Jacobs was charged as a party to the crime of first-degree murder of Randy, Irene, Marie, Clarence and Helen Kunz. A jury acquitted Jacobs of all five charges. In 1993, the state charged Jacobs with the kidnapping and false imprisonment of Helen Kunz, while using a dangerous weapon, based on the same set of events that gave rise to the murder charges.

La Du said while in the Marathon County Jail, he had a good rapport with one of the corporals and was able to be held without any incident.

“While he was not held in general population due to his own decisions, he was nonetheless non-violent and properly communicated with jail staff,” La Du explained.

On July 4, 1987, Clarence Kunz, 76; his sister, Irene, 81 and Marie, 72 and their nephew, Randy, 30, were found dead in their farm house with no running water or indoor plumbing near Athens. 

The Kunz family were hoarders and allegedly had a good amount of money spread throughout the house, equaling over $20,000.

Kenneth, the only member of the family who had ever worked was returning home from work when he found his four family members killed and noticed  his mother, 70-year-old Helen Kunz was missing. 

Nine months later, her skeletal remains were found in an frozen creek about 19 miles from the Kunz’s home. 

Jacobs, then 22-years-old, was arrested in late January 1988, but was released from custody a few days later. Then in August of 1988, he was charged with five counts of party to murder. Investigators learned he had purchased some vehicles from the Kunz’s.

Prosecutors believe Jacobs saw a large amount of money in the home when he went to pick up the vehicle’s title. They believed robbery was the motive for the murders.

Jacobs arrest started one of Marathon County’s longest investigations. Jacobs was acquitted of five counts of murder in October 1989. Four years later, Jacobs found himself facing new charges, one day before the statute of limitations was scheduled to expire in 1993. The new charges were based on new testimony from Jacobs ex-girlfriend who said he confessed to the murders and kidnapping.

He was sentenced a total of 31 years in prison. Jacobs withdrew from parole consideration in February 2006, and never had a parole hearing. Last year a spokesperson explained that Jacobs would remain on extended supervision until 2029. It’s unclear if that date has changed.