This True Crime Show Will Examine the Murder of a Wisconsin Family

Northern Wisconsin will be the setting of a true crime episode next week.

This Monday, July 27 at 8:30 p.m., the Investigation Discovery show “Hometown Homicide: Local Mysteries” will air a segment on the murders of five members the Brenizer family, who were killed in 1991 in Cushing, a small town in Polk County near the Minnesota border.

On April 23 of that year, 15-year-old Bruce Brenizer reported his family missing. Nearly three weeks later, on May 11, the five family members were found in a burned station wagon in the woods three miles from their trailer home.

The five victims – Bruce’s father, his father’s girlfriend, her two daughters, and their daughter – were identified using dental records.

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Rumors surrounding the case were rampant. A May 23 article from the Chicago Tribune reads, “Area residents say they have heard talk of more than one person – perhaps even adults – being involved; talk of chain saws being used; of decapitation and spinal cords being removed; talk of drug dealers from the Twin Cities, and even a satanic cult being involved.”

The show should delve into the speculation and fear around the case, as well as the eventual ending.

If you want to watch it, you may not want to continue reading. We’ll say what actually happened in this case after a big section break.

Investigators eventually figured out the truth:

Bruce Brenizer shot the five of them and then called his stepbrother to help him dispose of the bodies. They drove the bodies out into the woods in the station wagon and set it on fire. Bruce then reported his family missing.

His stepbrother ended up testifying against him with a promise of immunity, and Bruce was charged with the murders. He pled insanity, and his lawyers argued that he was the victim of physical and emotional abuse from his father, also citing the family’s poor living conditions.

He was eventually charged as an adult and was sentenced to life in a mental hospital and has since been transferred between mental institutions and prison.



Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.