WAUSAU (AP) - A former dairy farmer confessed to killing five members of a reclusive rural Athens family about two years after a jury acquitted him of a role in the murders, his ex-girlfriend told police.
"In spring of "91, he admitted to me he did it," Stacy Weis told a detective, according to a criminal complaint accusing Chris Jacobs III of the kidnapping and false imprisonment of one of the victims, Helen Kunz.
"He said he had to tell somebody and that he trusted me," Weis said. Jacobs told her that his father took the rifle used in the killings "and got rid of it," she said.
Jacobs, 26, formerly of rural Medford and now of Stetsonville, voluntarily appeared in Marathon County Circuit Court Wednesday for arraignment on the new charges.
Circuit Judge Michael Hoover released Jacobs on a $200,000 signature bond on condition that he have no contact with Weis or Kenneth Kunz, who found the bodies the day after the slayings and at one time was a suspect.
Jacobs declined comment as he left the courtroom.
No date for a preliminary hearing was set.
Prosecutors "desperately charged" Jacobs with the crimes on Saturday,
just one day before the statute of limitations was to expire, Public Defender Weldon Nelson said.
"I would say he is stunned," Nelson said.
The charges are based on a statement of a "disgruntled, jilted ex-girlfriend who threatened to get Chris Jacobs when they broke up last fall," he said.
"It is a big joke," said Jacobs' father, Chris Jacobs II.
Nelson said he planned to file a motion seeking dismissal of the charges against Jacobs on grounds that the issues involved had been covered during the first trial.
Jacobs, who now works in construction, was 22 when charged with five counts of being a party to first-degree intentional homicide in the July 1987 killings.
Investigators have said they believe more than one person helped kill Randy Kunz, 30; his uncle Clarence, 76; and aunts Irene, 81, and Marie, 72, in their farmhouse.
The four, found July 5, 1987, by Randy Kunz' brother, Kenneth, had each been shot at least once in the head. Missing was Randy's mother, Helen Kunz, 70, whose remains were found nine months later in a marsh in neighboring Taylor County. She also was shot in the head.
A jury acquitted Jacobs after a three-week trial in October 1989.
Investigators believe robbery was the motive for the killings. The Kunz family kept $20,000 in cash in jars and boxes hidden in the ramshackle home, according to trial testimony.
Marathon County Sheriff Gerald Kittel said Wednesday that a warrant for Jacobs' arrest was issued after a closed-door John Doe probe before a judge.
Jacobs is charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment while possessing a firearm, charges that carry a maximum penalty of 31 years in prison.
District Attorney Greg Grau said no other people would be charged in the slayings based on the new information that's been provided. He declined to give the age or address of Weis.
Weis, who defense lawyers said was living in Rozeville when she met Jacobs, was interviewed June 13 by sheriff's Detective Randall Hoenisch, court records showed.
Weis said she met Jacobs the Tuesday after the trial was over at a Stratford bar and began living with him in early 1990.
She said she moved to Minnesota last September after breaking up with Jacobs because she "got sick of him not accomplishing anything he started."
The couple talked about the Kunz killings in spring 1991, Weiss said.