In March 1922, all five members of the Gruber family, and their maid, were brutally murdered with a pickaxe in the Hinterkaifeck Farmhouse in Germany. Then the killer proceeded to hang out at the farm with six dead bodies for the next several days. Who did it and why? ― These questions remain unanswered to this day.
The Hinterkaifeck murders
It’s March 31, 1922, on a small farm located between the towns of Ingolstadt and Schrobenhausenin Bavaria, Germany. Six inhabitants of the farm, including a seven-year-old and a two-year-old, didn’t know that night would be their last.
It started with a string of inexplicable occurrences: Footprints in the snow coming from the woods to the back door, but not leading back; creaking in the attic; an unfamiliar newspaper in the kitchen. Then, house keys went missing, and someone tried to break the lock on the tool shed. The house was checked but nothing was found.
Andreas Gruber, the father, couldn’t decide what to make of it. He confided these strange incidents to neighbours and friends, but they were still stunned when, on a chilly night in 1922, Andreas and his family ― wife Cäzilia Gruber, widowed daughter Viktoria Gabriel, grandchildren Cäzilia and Josef, and housemaid Maria Baumgartner ― were slaughtered with a pickaxe in their home.
The crime scenes
Police deduced that Andreas, Cäzilia, Viktoria, and young Cäzilia were somehow lured to the livestock barn and slaughtered one by one. Afterward, the killer (or killers) entered the house and bludgeoned little Josef while he slept in his parents’ bedroom. Then he headed to Maria’s room and murdered her, too. The bodies were discovered the following Tuesday, after young Cäzilia failed to show up for school.
The Killer(s) Remain Unidentified
While police initially suspected robbery, they soon abandoned the theory after finding money in the house. Numerous interrogations turned up nothing. Meanwhile, autopsies revealed young Cäzilia survived her initial attack. While lying next to her dead family in the barn, she had torn out tufts of hair before finally succumbing to her wounds.
As if that wasn’t creepy enough, imagine, the killer stuck around. Food had clearly been eaten from the kitchen, someone continued to feed the cattle. Neighbours reported smoke rising from the chimney and even the dog had been let out.
Whoever slaughtered the residents of Hinterkaifeck stayed through the weekend and took care of the place before moving on. No one was charged with the murder case and to this day, it remains one of the world’s most infamous, gruesome and puzzling unsolved crimes.