The Hinterkaifeck Murders

Hinterkaifeck was a small isolated farmstead situated between the towns of Ingolstadt and Schrobenhausen in Bavaria, Germany, surrounded by hills and forests. It was the home of the Gruber family and their maid. On 31st March 1922, someone slaughtered each household member and stacked their bodies in the barn, leaving only 2 victims in the farm house.

Andreas Gruber was 63 years-old, when he was murdered, and not a particularly popular with the local community. People, in the near by village, would often avoid him due to his aggression and greed. There were speculations that Gruber and his wife, Cäzila, did not look after their children well and often subjected them to cruelty. Viktoria was the only Gruber child who survived into adulthood.

Even more damaging to the Gruber name and reputation was the public knowledge of the incestuous relationship between Andreas and Viktoria. Viktoria’s husband, Karl Gabriel, had reportedly been killed in Arras, France, in 1914 during the First World War. The year after, Viktoria and Andreas were both convicted of incest between 1907 and 1910; Viktoria was sentenced to one month and Andreas to one year in prison. There were rumours that Josef, Viktoria’s youngest child, was potentially the biological son of her father not the village mayor, Lorenz Schlittenbauer, who Viktoria has also been having an intimate relationship with at the time she became pregnant. It was reported that Lorenz had intended to marry Viktoria but Andreas had aggressively chased him away from the farm with a scythe. It was reported that Kreszenz Rieger, the Gruber’s previous maid, later told police she had overheard Andreas telling Viktoria that she did not need to marry, or a husband, and potential suggestions that he would sexually satisfy his daughter.

Before the murders, Andreas had reported several stranger occurrences to neighbours. For example, there had been a newspaper from Munich, which was not local, found on the kitchen windowsill. When questioned by Andreas, the postman claimed that he had not delivered such as newspaper to anyone in the area. Footprints left in the snow had also been noticed leading to the farmhouse from the forest but there had not been any leading back. Whilst working on the farm, Kreszenz was convinced that someone was watching the family that she packed her bags and fled just months before the murders. Around the same time, keys had vanished from Andreas desk and there had been an attempted break in at the engine yard. Andreas was also concerned that livestock appeared to go missing and that he was sure someone was creeping around the attic. He had heard strange noises coming from above, for several nights, but nothing was found when he investigated. Despite all the goings on, and the neighbours urging, Andreas refused to report the occurrences.

On 31st March 1922, Maria Baumgarter, the Gruber’s new maid, arrived at the farm during the afternoon. She had been driven there by her sister who left shortly after but was possibly the last person to see the household alive.

Over the next few days, the Gruber family seemed to vanish. Cäzila Gabriel, Viktoria’s daughter, missed a few days of school and the family did not attend church on the Sunday. Hans Schirovsky and Eduard Schirovsky, two local coffee sellers, visited the farm on 1st April to place an order. They claimed to have received no response from their knocks ad decided to walk round the yard and found no one. However, they did notice that the engine yard gate had been left open. An assembler, Albert Hofner, attended the farm on April 4th. He stated that, whilst he was there four and a half hours fixing the food chopper, he had not seen the Gruber family and only heard the farm animals and the dogs in the barn.

Schlittenbauer, hearing of Hofner’s strangely quiet experience, attended the farm, with 2 others, after his son and stepson had reported that they also could not make contact with the family. Searching the barn, they found the bludgeoned bodies of Andreas Gruber; Cäzilia, his wife; Vikortia, his daughter; and Cäzilia, his granddaughter. Accessing the house, through the barn, they found the bodies of Maria Baumgarter, in her bedroom, and Josef, the infant son of Viktoria in his bassinet.

3 thoughts on “The Hinterkaifeck Murders

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  1. To read more about unsolved true crime, check out the Tales of Luminol unsolved murders section (https://talesofluminol.wordpress.com/category/unsolved-murders/), or check out our dedicated serial killer section (https://talesofluminol.wordpress.com/category/serial-killers/). Tales of Luminol also post book reviews and recommendations which can be found in our books and podcast section (https://talesofluminol.wordpress.com/category/books-podcasts/).

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