History has visualised a plethora of murders, and that will, undoubtedly, leave you numb for a moment. We often imagine: why is such a man slaughtered? How can someone be so cruel? It may be greed or hatred that convinced them to such an extent to perform the heinous action. We end up saying ‘No humanity survived”.
Another question we have is, who is the perpetrator? He/She should meet up with the same fate. And when the murderer is hidden from the world’s report, we start doubting the pious word ‘justice’.
One such incident occurred and was never solved, even after a century. To date, just an assumption has been left for the world. The isolated farmstead in Hinterkaifeck, present-day Bavaria in Germany, is known worldwide for about a century for the brutal killing of the five family members, including the maid.
The murder took place on March 31st, 1922, and the case never came to an end, even after lots of inspections and interrogations. The farmstead is owned by the Gruber family; members include Andreas Gruber (63) and his wife Cazilia (72), their daughter Vikotria (35), and her kids Cazilia (7) and Josef (2).
Andreas Gruber didn’t have a good reputation in society. He was a farmer by profession and used to torture his wife. He was also known for his quarrelsome nature. It was rumoured that he was having an incestuous relationship with his daughter, and Josef was his progeny. He was imprisoned in 1915 for the crime and later released after a year, and his daughter was sentenced to a month.
The suspicion began on the 1st of April when the child, Cazilia, missed school and the family members failed to attend the church, and also, Viktoria was among the choir members. On April 3rd, the postman noticed that the mailbox still contained the previous letters as if nobody had taken them. On April 4th, Albert Hofner, a mechanic, worked on a feeding machine at the farm for several hours, but he didn’t hear from anyone.
The neighbours claimed that they had seen smoke coming from the chimneys even after March 31, and the farm animals were also fed by someone. It appeared that the criminal didn’t leave the house after the crime. On April 4, neighbours made a decision to visit the house after the strange responses, and what they discovered was a horrific scene.
The Murder Scene
When the neighbours visited the farm, they found the dead bodies of all the members of the family. According to Atlas Obscure, Andreas’s blood was caked all over his face. His wife’s skull cracked from the multiple blows to the head, and the signs of strangulation were also seen. Viktoria’s skull burst and her face was hit with a blunt object. Cazilia’s jaw shattered, and her neck and face were covered with wounds. All four bodies were found in the barn, covered with hay.
The body of the child and the maid Maria Baumgartner were found in the farmhouse, and it was the first day of her employment. The last maid left the house six months ago because she thought it was haunted. The new maid died the same way as the rest of the family. Her body was found covered with bedsheets, and the child was found dead in her mother’s room. Their bodies showed signs of a heavy blow.
Dr. John Baptist Aumuller did an autopsy on the bodies and said that the murder happened between night and morning. He also said that the younger Cazillia died after a few hours and that she pulled out her hair out of shock.
Their footprints were taken for more research, and the skulls of all six members were taken and sent to Munich for more study. However, the heads were lost during World War II, so no new information was found.
The doctor came to the conclusion that the object Mattock was most likely using to do something bad Inspector George Reingruber and his colleagues from the Munich Police Department were looking into the case. One bad thing that happened was that the crime scene had already been messed up before the police arrived. Neighbors and other people who passed by had gone to the house, moved the bodies, and started cooking in the kitchen, so the crime scene had already been disturbed.
Before the Murder
The strange things used to happen before the murder, and it was their former maid Kreszenz Rieger who noted the haunted signs and, therefore, she left the home.
Andreas found the strange newspaper, which he had never purchased, and he had also observed the footsteps in the snow leading to his farm’s machine room from the forest, but the returning steps were missing. He lost his keys and also heard footsteps in the attic. All of these clues show that the criminal may be living in the farmhouse without the family’s knowledge.
Investigations and Theories
Nearly 100 suspects were questioned, and nothing came out. Earlier, it was believed that someone might have done this with the intention of robbery, but not a single penny was taken. After 30 years, Kreszentia Mayer told the priest on her deathbed that her two brothers committed the crime. They were Adolf and Anton Gump. Adolf had already passed away, and Anton was imprisoned but soon released when no clear proof was given and it was believed that the sister was habitually making up stories.
Even their previous maid suspected some of the people, but nothing was concluded thoroughly.
Karl Gabriel was the husband of Viktoria, but he was killed in 1914 during WW1 and the body was never found. So the people used to believe that he was the killer of the family, as he came to know about the incestuous relationship between his wife and his father-in-law. It was all part of the revenge. But some soldiers claimed that they saw his body. So, this was discarded.
It was assumed that one soldier from Karl’s unit murdered the entire family out of vengeance and possibly for money. But no signs of theft were seen. But it seems to barely fit with the scene.
The other theory may be the political one. The extreme right and the extreme left. There were disturbances between the Nazi Party and the Communist Party due to their ideological differences. However, the family showed no signs of political involvement, with Lorenz Sclittenbauer, Viktoria’s lover, claiming after the murder that Josef is his child. Although several times, he disregarded the child. Even he said that Viktoria asked for the maintenance money for the child. The shocking incident was that he had even asked the police that whether he will get back the maintenance charges. He also wanted to marry Viktoria, but she rejected the offer due to his father.
Lorenze reported the incestuous case in 1919. Though it was already reported back in 1915.
His behaviour was puzzling in that at one point he disregarded the child, and after the murder scene he went back to the site, and when he was asked then, he mentioned that he was searching for his child, and in 1931, he again stated that he didn’t know about the father of Josef.
It was the point where he was making up stories for money, and another noteworthy point was when Viktoria asked for the child’s maintenance money, and perhaps that was the reason for him to clear all the members from the way. Maybe he feels she is using him out of greed.
Police suspected him, but due to the lack of concrete proof, he was never arrested.
In 2007, students of the police academy again searched out the case by using modern techniques, but the academy didn’t report the case out of respect for the living relatives. The theory remains a secret.
The authors of the ‘Man from the Train’ claimed that perhaps the crime was committed by the serial killer Paul Mueller, who had committed several crimes in America between 1898 and 1912, and he killed the whole family by using the blunt object, as the same way occurred in Hinterkaifeck.
Despite all of the claims and theories, no concrete proof was ever found. For the time being, it still remains unsolved. Maybe the perpetrator died before the arrest or was successful in hiding himself from the crime scene. The culprit was never found publicly, even after a decade. One point is clear: the murder has been committed by a familiar person who was acquainted with the farm.
The most likely theory was that the murder was committed by Lorenze, as many of his statements indirectly claimed.
The six victims were buried without their heads, and in 1923, the Hinterkaifeck Farm was converted into a memorial.