On a Friday night in March, a farmer and his family were brutally murdered in their own barn – but the disturbing clues left at the scene led German police to a chilling conclusion.
The case of the butchered family – and their “haunted” attic – is one of Germany’s most notorious unsolved mysteries.
Andreas Gruber, 63, and his wife Cazilia, 72, died along with their daughter Viktoria, 35, and their two children Cazilia, seven, and two-year-old Josef.
Her maid Maria Baumgartner, 44, also died on March 31, 1922 on the remote farm near Munich.
Neighbors found the mutilated bodies four days later, after young Cazilia failed to show up for school and letters began piling up in the family’s mailbox.
When police began investigating, the case took a chilling turn as evidence suggested the killer may have been hiding above the family home for months prior to the murders.
In the days leading up to the horrific attack, Andreas found a newspaper he hadn’t bought himself.
And he told neighbors he saw fresh tracks in the snow leading to the house — but none of them went.
The last maid in the family had also resigned, believing the house to be haunted, after hearing voices and strange noises in the attic.
According to him, the family members were lured into the barn one by one before being beaten with a hoe, a type of pickaxe.
The maid was found dead in the house along with the small child Josef.
A post-mortem was carried out in the barn and investigators found young Cazilia had been alive for several hours – but while overwhelmed with shock she had pulled out her tuft of hair.
The heads of all the victims were removed and reportedly sent to a psychic in Munich who found no clues – before the body parts were mysteriously lost.
The case also took a disturbing turn when rumors of an incestuous relationship between Andreas and his daughter Viktoria surfaced.
The couple were found guilty of incest in 1915 and locals believed that their young son Josef may have been fathered by their father.
To this day, the case remains one of Germany’s oldest unsolved mysteries, although in 1999 – just 20 years ago – an elderly woman called with a possible lead.
HOUSE OF DOOMS
On March 31, the new maid Maria, accompanied by her sister, arrived at the Hinterkaifeck farm near the town of Kaifeck.
She would leave shortly thereafter and was the last person to see the family alive.
Later that evening Andreas, Cazilia, Viktoria and young Cazilia were lured into the barn and hit on the head with a pickaxe.
The murderer or murderers then moved into the living quarters and murdered Maria and two-year-old Joseph in his bed with pictures showing the terrifying scene.
The bodies then lay undiscovered for four days, but strangely several people visited the farm and were unable to locate their remains.
Cazilia was also absent from school for two days and the family never showed up for Sunday services.
Finally, on April 4, local resident Lorenz Schiebebauer led a search party to find the family and was confronted with a horrifying scene.
The older Cazilia showed signs of strangulation, Andrea’s cheekbones were sticking out of his skin, Viktoria’s skull was crushed, and young Cazilia’s jaw was broken.
The seven-year-old is believed to have been injured but alive for several hours while tearing her hair in distress.
Mary and Joseph had suffered a similar fate and the infant was killed by a severe blow to the face and he lay in his cradle.
Investigations were hampered from the start, with key evidence being lost when neighbors entered the scene – and even cooking going on in the kitchen.
German police initially believed it was a robbery gone wrong, but later found a large amount of cash untouched in the farmhouse.
It was also clear that the brazen killer had stayed in the house for some time after the murders, feeding the cattle and eating groceries from the pantry.
A witness who passed the house before the bodies were found told police he saw smoke coming from the chimney and was blinded by a person approaching him with a lantern.
He had hastily retreated, but remembered a horrible smell coming from the fireplace.
Horrifying theories began to circulate and it was even suggested that Viktoria’s husband Karl, who had been killed in France during World War I, might have committed the crime.
His body had never been recovered after a shell attack in December 1914.
The man who discovered the bodies, Lorenz Schiebebauer, was also suspected after having a relationship with Viktoria, and they both claimed he was Josef’s father.
He had planned to marry Viktoria until her father intervened and the relationship ended.
Suspicion was raised after he broke into the locked barn to find the bodies and then let himself into the farmhouse alone with a key.
A key to the house had disappeared a few days before the murders.
Other suspects included two local brothers, Adolf and Anton Gump, a farm hand, Peter Weber, and a German serial killer who committed a similar crime before returning to the US, Paul Mueller.
No one was ever arrested for the Hinterkaifeck murders.
The family’s headless bodies were all buried in a local cemetery and the farmhouse was demolished less than a year after the brutal murders.
During the blast, the murder weapon was uncovered in the attic and a pocket knife in the barn.
In 1999, an elderly woman contacted authorities, claiming her former landlord had information about the murders – but his death meant the trail hit a dead end.
In 2007, a group of students set out to unmask the killer using modern technology, and all agreed on a suspect.
But all vowed to keep the killer’s name a secret to protect his loved ones.
Over 100 suspects were interrogated, but no one was ever brought to justice for the horrifying peasant murders.
We pay for your stories!
Do you have a story for The Sun newsroom?
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5540186/mystery-of-haunting-unsolved-farmhouse-murders-where-family-were-slaughtered-by-killer-who-hid-in-their-attic-for-months/ Haunting, unsolved farmhouse murders mystery that saw the family slaughtered by a killer who hid in their attic for months