Monday, October 5, 2015

Hinterkaifeck

Hinterkaifeck was a small homestead 70 km north of Munich, Germany. It was a little ways from the main town of Kaifeck, thus the name Hinterkaifeck, Hinter being German for behind. Why do I mention this little speck on the map? Well, Hinterkaifeck is home to one of the most baffling murders in all of German history. On March 31st, 1922, six inhabitants on the farm were brutally murdered with a mattock, a tool similar to a pickax. The victims were Andreas Gruber and his wife Cazilia; their widowed daughter Viktoria Gabriel and her two children Cazilia and Josef; and the maid Maria Baumgartner. It all started a few days before the murders, when Andreas told his neighbors that he discovered footprints in the snow leading from the edge of the forest to his farm, but none leading back. Don't worry, it gets creepier. Andreas also told of hearing footsteps in the attic and finding an unfamiliar newspaper in his barn. At this point its very surprising that Andreas wouldn't have done some investigative work, or taken his family and left. He must of thought these things were not too unusual, because he literally did nothing apparently. The house keys were also missing in the days before the murders happened, but that wasn't reported to police. I'm beginning to think Farmer Gruber wasn't the brightest man in Germany. Probably unrelated, but still creepy was the fact that their previous maid had left the house six months earlier, claiming that it was haunted. The new maid arrived just a few hours before she was murdered, so that has to be the worst timing ever, right?

Part of the mystery is exactly how the murderer, or murderers, got each member of the Gruber family sans Josef, to go into the barn on the night of March 31st. Josef and Maria the maid were found in their rooms. A popular theory is that the killer lured each member out one by one to the barn and then murdered them with a mattock. The killer then went inside the house and finished off the rest of the residents. After the neighbors began to notice that the Grubers had not left their house in several days, the went to investigate and found the horrifying scene. Police investigations into the murder lasted years and over one hundred suspects were questioned, but to no avail. Viktoria's ex-husband was even suspected, though he had supposedly died during WWI. The last instance of questioning took place in 1986, but students of the area police academy did another formal investigation in 2007 using modern technology. Unfortunately, too much time had passed, with little physical evidence left and all suspects being dead. The murders will most likely never be solved, though many amateur investigators love trying. The farm has long since been torn down, though there is a shrine in the former spot of the Gruber homestead.

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