Sacramento Unsolved

Another year gone and another silent anniversary without answers. Twenty-eight years have passed since the 1991 slaying of an entire family in the upscale Land Park neighborhood of Sacramento.

On January 15, 1991, Marcy Jacobs didn’t show up to work as a data processing technician at the Department of Justice. A concerned co-worker called the police and the responding officers found the family’s dogs in the yard, the lights on and a hot iron propped up next to freshly pressed clothing.

What officers found next would be called “Sacramento’s Charles Manson case.”

Marcy Jacobs, age 31, was found crumpled in the doorway leading to the bathroom, having suffered from a gunshot to the head and stab wounds. It appeared she’d attempted to fight off her attackers and tried to use the bathroom door for protection.

Jennifer “Jenny” Jacobs, age 9, was discovered in her bed, clutching her favorite doll. She had been shot in the face.

Michael Jacobs, age 33 was located in the garage next to an empty safe. Michael was killed in what was called an “execution style” murder with four gunshots to the head.

The rear door of the home was ajar, and officers believed the attackers fled after forcing Michael to open the safe. The weapons used were of different caliber, leading investigators to speculate more than one assailant committed this heinous crime.

There were few initial leads in the case. No one had witnessed the break in or attack, and no gunshots were heard in the normally quiet neighborhood. Michael and Marcy Jacobs were not known to run in criminal circles. Complicating the investigation, one report indicated a police mandate to reduce overtime, drew investigative resources away from the crime scene. Two days later, the first Gulf War broke out and attention to the case all but vanished from the public eye. After the home was sold in foreclosure, the street address number was officially changed from 522 to 524. The case seemed to vanish.

The mystery of what was in the safe and how it came to be in the Jacobs home became the focus of the investigation. The safe belonged to Michael’s childhood friend, Richard McCarthy. McCarthy was known to authorities as a drug dealer and one theory was that he’d stashed gold, his supply of methamphetamine and upwards of $300,000 in cash in the safe.

McCarthy, a convicted felon, collected vintage Harley-Davidson parts and mined for gold in Amador county. He finished a 120 day jail sentence in nearby Yolo County approximately three months before the murders and disappeared. His family and investigators have never located him, or his body, but believe that his safe may have been targeted by rival drug dealers.

Then the case went cold.

Police investigators assigned to the matter indicate they are actively seeking new leads. DNA was collected at the initial crime scene and many hope that the new DNA testing techniques like those used to capture the alleged Golden State Killer will identify the murderers.

Investigators claim that they have “persons of interest,” but are looking for more than a DNA connection to the case.

In June of 2019, Sacramento Police announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible. Let’s hope that the advances in DNA shine a light on those responsible for wiping out an entire family. This is one of those cases that haunts investigators. The crime scene photo of 9 year old Jenny, clutching her doll still hits hard and motivates them to bring this case to conclusion.

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