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Hinterkaifeck Murder Mystery

The Gruber Family

One of the longest lasting and most gruesome murder mysteries ever was that of Hinterkaifeck. Hinterkaifeck was a small farm located in Germany between the towns of Ingolstadt and Schrobenhausen. On the morning of April 4th, 1992, German authorities found the five members of the Gruber family Andreas, Cazilia, their daughter Viktoria, Viktoria’s two children, Josef and Cazilia and their maid Maria Baumgartner murdered. Authorities concluded that the household had been murdered with a pickaxe five days earlier.

Baby Josef, only two years old at the time, was murdered in his crib in his mother’s room while Maria, the family maid was murdered in her bedroom. Andreas, Cazilia, Viktoria and her children were all found dead in the barn. A disturbing theory to the killings ensued.

Authorities suspected that each victim was lured to the barn one by one. Covered with hay, the bodies were found one on top of the other. To add to the horror and mystery of the murders, young Cazilia was found with clumps of hair in her hands corresponding to the where she had pulled out her own hair in terror. For several hours, she laid dying fatally wounded surrounded by the mutilated bodies of her grandparents and mother. As seven year old Cazilia slowly expired, the murderer or murderers entered the house and proceeded to kill Maria and baby Josef.

Room with crib where Josef Gruber was found.

Based on neighbor testimony and evidence found at the farm, authorities concluded that the killer(s) remained on the farm and attended to the duties on the farm for two days after killing the family. Neighbors reported seeing smoke rising from the chimney at the farm. Believing the family was home, the murders went unreported for four days while animals and livestock fed, cared for and even the cows had been milked. Upon entering the scene, police found that food had been eaten and concluded that after murdering the entire household the individual not only lived in the house but completed the daily duties.

Burial of the Grubers and housekeeper

Neighbors were not concerned when the younger Cazilia missed school on April 1st nor when the family was absent from church the following Sunday because the animals were fed and smoke from the fireplace could be seen coming from the farm for days.

However, authorities were notified when Cazilia was once again absent from school on Monday April 3rd and the mail courier found that no one picked up the mail over the weekend. Upon arriving to the Gruber’s home, three neighbors discovered the mutilated bodies in the family home and barn. Subsequently, over 100 suspects were questioned over the horrific murders and later released.

Investigators then and now have noted and linked a series of strange and eerie events leading up to the murders at Hinterkaifeck. The Gruber’s former housekeeper quit just six months earlier because she feared the Gruber farm was haunted. Subsequently, Maria Baumgartner was hired as the new family housekeeper and was murdered the first night she began working for the family.

Remains found at the barn

Accounts from neighbors during the investigation indicated that Andreas Gruber had reported the he discovered unexplained footprints in the snow leading to the farm but none trailing away. Neighbors claimed he was worried when he reported finding strange footprints in the attic, a strange newspaper was found in the home and his keys went missing. However, when a neighbor offered to lend Andreas a gun to protect his family, he declined. These series of strange events have led investigators to believe the murder may have been living and hiding on the property for quite some time leading up to the brutal murders.

To further exacerbate the bizarre the theories and accounts, locals reported that Andreas had an incestuous relationship with his daughter Viktoria Gruber fathering her 2-year-old son Josef. Records indicated that Josef’s father was Lorenz Schlittleenbauer a neighbor of the family. However, Andreas and Viktoria had been tried, convicted and sentenced to prison for incest in 1915 and continued leading to the birth of Josef Gruber.

In a bizarre twist of faith, the court physician who conducted the autopsies on the Gruber family and their housekeep in the bar where the bodies had been discovered. He removed the heads of all six deceased and sent the heads to Munich for further examination. To add insult to injury, the skulls were handed over to clairvoyants of the time to glean any information to the identity of the murder or murders. The skulls were somehow lost and the Grubers and their housekeeper Maria Baumgartner were buried decapitated. At the time of this blog entry, the murders of Hinterkaifeck remained unsolved.

Memorial at Hinterkaifeck

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