In the early 1920s, on a Friday night in late March, a German family and their new maid were brutally killed in their rural and isolated home. Law enforcement officials interviewed several people - both locals and transients - in an effort to find the person or people responsible for the shocking murders of six people. However, nearly a century later, no one has ever been charged with the horrifying killings that occurred at the farm in Hinterkaifeck, a small Bavarian homestead. Consequently, the Hinterkaifeck farm murders remain unsolved, making the savage and bloody massacre one of Germany's oldest unsolved murders of a family.
Many people have studied these brutal murders that utilized farm tools, and developed their own theories about what happened. Yet the world remains stumped as to the identity of the murderer, making the Hinterkaifeck murders one of the most talked about cases in Germany. Read on to discover the intriguing facts of the Hinterkaifeck massacre that left four adults and two young children dead.
On the night of March 31, 1922, a killer (or a group of killers) murdered Andreas and Cäzilia Gruber, their daughter, Viktoria, Viktoria's children, Josef and Cäzilia, and the family's housekeeper, Maria Baumgartner. The family lived on a farmstead called Hinterkaifeck, which is now Waidhofen, Bavaria, Germany. A doctor performed autopsies on the six victims and determined they had probably been killed with a mattock, a hand tool used in farming that has a long handle and a wide head with a chisel on one end and a blade on the other.
The maid was murdered in her bedroom, while Josef (2) was killed in his crib in his mother's room. However, the remaining members of the family were all murdered in the barn, leading the authorities to develop a disturbing theory.
The bodies of Andreas, Cäzilia, Viktoria, and their granddaughter, little Cäzilia, were discovered in the barn, while the corpses of Josef and the maid, Maria, were found inside the living quarters. Consequently, investigators concluded the killer lured four of the victims to the barn, one at a time, and systematically attacked them with a mattock.
After murdering the elderly couple, their daughter, and their granddaughter, the perpetrator stacked the family's bloody corpses on top of each other and covered them with hay.
Investigators discovered young Cäzilia had clumps of hair in her hands and bald patches all over her head, causing them to conclude she had ripped out her own hair. The authorities theorize that the little girl probably didn't die right away from her injuries. Cäzilia may have torn out her own hair as she laid, terrified and dying, next to the corpses of her mother and grandparents in the barn for several hours.
According to the police, as the 7-year-old girl - who was alive but fatally injured - was dying in the barn, surrounded the dead bodies of her family, the killer or killers went inside the house and murdered the housekeeper and two-year-old Josef. Then, instead of fleeing the grisly scene, the authorities - based on testimony from neighbors and evidence found inside the home - concluded the perpetrator or perpetrators didn't leave the Hinterkaifeck farm right away.
The killings went undetected for four days, until April 4, 1922. This was largely because in the days after the murders, the Grubers' neighbors saw smoke coming from the home's chimney, indicating someone was using the house's fireplace. Thus, it seemed as if the family were alive and well. In addition, the fam animals and the livestock were fed and someone even went to the trouble of milking the cows.
Police also discovered someone had recently eaten food in the family's house, causing them to conclude the killer had not only lived in the house after murdering six people, but had also performed daily tasks like preparing meals and maintaining the farm.