The Mystery Encyclopedia

Hinterkaifeck Murders

The events of March 31, 1922 are considered one of the most gruesome and puzzling unsolved crimes in German History. Six victims, including 4 adults and 2 children, were found murdered. In the days leading up to the attack, family patriarch, Andreas Gruber, noticed footprints entering the home, but none leading away again. And thus, began the mystery of the Hinterkaifeck murders.

German Unsolved Murder Nears 100 Years Old

Extended Gruber Family

Days Prior to March 31

The quitting of the maid in the fall of 1921 would not be surprising except rumor states the maid leaving the farm because she believed the farmhouse haunted. Apparently, she was the first to hear footsteps in the attic. The claims by the maid remain unsubstantiated. Even still, Andreas Gruber searched the attic the days prior to his murder, stating he was now hearing footsteps in the attic. Also, in March 1922 Gruber found a Munich newspaper on his property. Sharing this news with neighbors, he explained finding footprints leading from the woods to his home at the entrance of the machine room and a broken lock. The family also noted missing house keys. Last, the family observed a man with a moustache in the wood’s edge watching the family.

March 31

On Friday, March 31, 1922, the new maid Maria Baumgartner, escorted by Maria’s sister, arrived at the farm. Maria’s sister is the last known person to see the family alive – except the perpetrator of the murders, of course. During the late evening, Victoria Gabriel, her daughter Cazilia, and Andreas and Cazialia Gruber, were brought to the barn and summarily executed by mattock. The tool, used to chip and dig dirt, killed the family by repeated blows to the head. Using the same tool, the perpetrator then entered the home and killed young Josef in the bassinet and Maria in her room.

Days After March 31

Three men, seeking to arouse the Gruber family, and make contact after nearly a week of absence, found the murdered family. These are the events in the days after the murder.

  • April 1, Coffee sellers, Hans Schirovsky and Eduard Schirovsky, find no one home
  • Cazilia Gabriel is absent from school without excuse
  • Sunday, April 2, the family misses Sunday Worship Service
  • Monday, April 3, postman Josef Mayer finds Saturday’s mail unmoved
  • Albert Hofner repairs the engine of the food chopper at Hinterkaifeck on April 4. Seeing no one, he spends half a day repairing the engine.
  • On the same day, Lorenz Schlittenbauer sends his sons to check on the family. They return with no information.
  • At 3:30 on the same day, Lorenz Schlittenbauer, Michael Poll, and Jakob Sigl seek out evidence at the farm as to the whereabouts of the family. They find the grizzly scene of murder in the barn and then in the house.

Investigation of Kaifek Murder

The Munich Police Department was the agency of investigation for the Gruber family and Maria Baumgartner. Inspector Georg Reingruber lead the investigation and despite disturbances at the scene, such as moving the bodies and disturbing the scene itself, he was able to determine a cause of death, a possible reenactment of the deaths, and the fact that Cazilia Gabriel remained alive for several hours.
Investigators also discovered the likelihood that the murder not only stayed at the farm in the days prior to the murders, but also stayed all weekend after the murders. Neighbors stated that smoke rose from the chimney all weekend; and fresh meat cuts were made, and all the bread eaten.

A large sum of money was easily found at the farm eliminating the motive as robbery. The case was officially closed in 1955; however, a final interrogation took place in 1986. Despite arrests, and more than 100 suspects questioned, no one has been brought to justice for the killings at Hinterkaifeck.

Images of the Gruber Family and Hinterkaifeck