Hometown Homicide: Local Mysteries investigates the horrific murder of two parents and their three children by their son in Cushing, Wisconsin, in 1991.
In April 1991, 15-year-old Bruce Brenizer told the authorities that his entire family had gone on a shopping trip to Minneapolis and had never returned.
When investigators searched the family trailer, which was in a secluded wooded area way back from the road, they discovered no evidence of a crime having been committed.
On May 11, eighteen days after Bruce had reported his family missing, a fisherman discovered the Brenizer’s old station wagon, which had been burnt out. Investigators found bone and tooth fragments inside the car.
By using dental records, the cops determined that they’d discovered the remains of Rick Brenizer, 35, (Bruce’s father) and his live-in girlfriend, Ruth Berentson, 31, along with her two daughters, Heidi, 10, and Mindy, 7; and her child with Rick, Crystal, 5.
The case was plagued with wild rumors as this small community tried to come to terms with the massacre; Drug dealers, satanic worshippers, and ax-wielding maniacs were all considered as potential suspects.
Jesse Anderson told cops Bruce Brenizer was the killer
However, a week after the vehicle was discovered, Bruce’s stepbrother Jesse Anderson (they shared the same mother), told authorities that Bruce was the killer.
Bruce Brenizer had firstly tied up Heidi and Mindy, but when he heard them plotting to escape, he killed them by firing a rifle at point-blank range. He then waited for Rick and Ruth to return home and then opened fire on both of them. He allegedly said “hi dad” before killing him and then shooting 5-year-old Crystal.
Bruce then telephoned Anderson, who then helped him load the bodies into the station wagon before driving to a secluded area and setting fire to it. It was Anderson who had given Bruce the bullets for the rifle and had suggested that he kill his relatives outside so as not to make a mess of the trailer.
Anderson received immunity for agreeing to testify against his stepbrother. Bruce Brenizer was convicted of murdering his father and stepmother but was found to be insane when it came to the children’s deaths. As a result, he was committed to the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison for life.
In 2013, he was transferred to a state prison.
More from Hometown Homicide
Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on Hometown Homicide.
A South Carolina business couple, John and Liz Calvert, disappeared, without a trace from their hometown in 2008 shortly after going to confront their accountant, Dennis Gerwing. A week later, Gerwing committed suicide.
Then there’s the murder of Jessica O’Grady, who disappeared in 2006 from Omaha, Nebraska. The 19-year-old student was murdered by Christopher Edwards, who was sentenced to 100 years for the crime.
Hometown Homicide: Local Mysteries airs at 9:30/8:30c on Investigation Discovery.