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The Mysterious Unsolved Murders of Hinterkaifeck Farm

While it seems that in recent days the case of Jack the Ripper has had the spotlight shone on it, and has been slowly brought out into the light, there are still some murder mysteries that have stood the test of time, and have over the years gained a reputation for their bizarreness as much as for their gore. One such mystery comes from the majestic alpine forests of the German state of Bavaria. The idyllic mountain scenery and pristine nature here seem to be an unusual location for violent murder, yet in 1922 one quiet farmstead by the name of Hinterkaifeck was the setting for one of the most brutal, mysterious, and perplexing murders in German history.

Hinterkaifeck was a farm located within the woods outside Groebern, between the Bavarian towns of Ingolstadt and Schrobenhausen, about an hour’s drive from Munich. The farm was occupied by a family called the Gruebers, which consisted of the husband Andreas, his wife Cazilia, their middle aged, widowed daughter Viktoria, and their two grandchildren Cäzilia (7) and Josef (2). They lived in relative isolation, their farm being nestled away in a forest 1km away from the main town of Kaifeck.

The Hinterkaifeck farm

The Hinterkaifeck farm

Despite the remoteness of their farm, the well-off family was fairly well known in the area, although not for the best of reasons. Andreas Grueber was known as an unfriendly loner who beat his wife on a regular basis and was not well liked by the town folk. It was also rumored that the youngest grandchild, little 2 year old Josef, was the result of an incestuous relationship between Adreas and his daughter Viktoria. Andreas was reportedly so obsessed and infatuated with Viktoria that he had actively forbidden her to marry again and kept her under his strict control. In addition to mistreating his wife, Andreas was also known to be severely abusive with his own children, of which Viktoria was the only survivor. In general, the family was sullen, reclusive, and mostly kept to themselves. The only one that had a relatively good reputation in the town was Viktoria, who had a remarkably beautiful voice and sang on the church choir.

The farm’s descent into true strangeness started when the maid suddenly quit her job and wished to leave immediately. When asked why she had so suddenly decided to abruptly leave, Maria explained that she had been hearing strange voices and other noises in and around the house, as well as the sound of disembodied footsteps emanating from the attic. The terror stricken maid had become convinced that the house was haunted and wished to stay there not a moment longer. She was reportedly white faced and emaciated when she said her final goodbyes. After her departure, the Gruebers chalked it up to the poor woman being simply mentally disturbed.

Six months later, things got more bizarre when in the middle of March, 1922, Andreas was surveying his property after a snowstorm and discovered odd footprints in the snow that originated in the thick surrounding forest and led right up to the house. Eerily, there were no footprints to be found that actually led back out to the woods. Andreas searched all around the property looking for any further sign of the mysterious tracks, but there were none. Alarmed that a potentially dangerous intruder could be hiding in his home, Andreas conducted a thorough search of the house, and even the barn and tool shed, but found no further footprints and no sign of an intruder.


That same night, Andreas was awoken by strange, inexplicable noises coming from the attic. Remembering what the maid had said about ghosts and the noises from the attic, he checked there too, but found nobody hiding there. With apparently nobody hiding on the property and no footprints leading back out into the woods, it seemed like the trespasser had simply vanished. Satisfied that no one was there yet still a bit unsettled, Andreas went to bed only to wake up the next morning to find a strange newspaper on his porch that no one in the family recognized. Not long after that, on March 30th, 1922, a set of keys to the house mysteriously disappeared and could not be found anywhere. In his search for the keys, Andreas came upon the disturbing discovery of scratches on the lock to the tool shed, as if someone had tried to pick it.

On May 31st, 1922, amid all of this high strangeness, and a day after the discovery of the lock scratches and the disappearance of the keys, a new maid by the name of Maria Baumgartner came to the house to replace the one that had fled in a panic six months earlier. Maria’s first day on the job would prove to be her last, and this would also be the last day anyone would see the Gruebers alive.

On April 4th, 1922, people in town became concerned about the Gruebers. No one had seen any of the family in days and the older grandchild, Cäzilia, had not been showing up for school. In addition, none of them had been to church and the Grubers’ unclaimed mail had been piling up at the post office. Viktoria in particular was never known to miss church due to her high standing as a member of the choir. A few of the townspeople decided to head out to their property and check up on them to see what was going on. Upon arriving at the farm, the search party’s calls went unanswered. A preliminary check of the outside of the farm turned up no sign of the family, and the whole place had an eerily quiet atmosphere.

They decided to inspect inside the barn, and upon opening the door were met with a gruesome sight. There lying in a pool of blood were the bodies of Andreas, his wife, his daughter Viktoria, and the elder granddaughter Cäzilia. Oddly, their bodies had been carefully stacked on top of each other and covered with hay. The horrified search party proceeded to frantically look for the other members of the family and found them in the farmhouse. The youngest grandchild, Josef was found dead in his cot in his mother’s bedroom, and the maid, Maria, was also found killed in her bed chamber. Both had also bled profusely and were found lying in pools of coagulated blood. In total six people, all five Gruber family members plus one maid, had been brutally killed in cold blood.

Gruesome discovery in the barn

Gruesome discovery in the barn

The townspeople immediately called the police, and within hours investigators from the Munich Police Department had arrived at the scene. Preliminary autopsies done on the bodies showed that all of the victims had been killed with blows to the head inflicted by a pickaxe. Viktoria’s body also showed signs of strangulation as well but it was not thought to be the cause of death. The perpetrator was guessed to be very familiar with the use of a pickaxe, since all of the wounds had been precise and confidently delivered, with only a single, decisive blow to the head evident on each corpse and no such wounds to the bodies. All of victims except one were believed to have died instantly, all except Cäzilia, who showed evidence of having survived several hours after being grievously wounded, and tufts of hair had been torn from her head for unknown reasons. Most of the victims were dressed in bed clothes except Viktoria and Cäzilia, who were dressed in regular clothes. This plus the fact that Maria and Josef had been killed in bed suggested that the murders had happened in the evening, right around bed time.

An investigation of the crime scene led police to the conclusion that someone had lured Andreas Gruber, his wife, and his daughter Viktoria into the barn one by one to dispatch them with the pickaxe, after which the murderer had entered the farmhouse to finish off little Josef and the maid as they lay in their beds. It was believed that Viktoria and Cäzilia had likely been the first to arrive and be attacked since they had not been dressed for bed when they had gone out to investigate whatever had drawn them to the barn. One detail that police noticed was that all of the corpses had been covered somehow. The stacked bodies in the bar had been covered with hay, the maid’s body had been covered with bedsheets, and Josef’s body had been covered with one of his mother’s skirts.

A pickaxe, the Hinterkaifeck Killer's weapon of choice

A pickaxe, the Hinterkaifeck Killer’s weapon of choice

So far, so scary, but further analysis of the bodies turned up some very unusual findings. The date of death was determined to be Friday, March 31st, 1922, but after questioning the neighbors of the farm, this proved to be rather bizarre. It was found that witnesses near the farmhouse had seen smoke coming from the chimney over the entire weekend, suggesting someone had been home. The house also had evidence that someone had only recently eaten meals there, and one of the beds appeared to have been slept in not long before the bodies had been discovered. In addition, it was found that all of the cattle and livestock were well fed and had recently eaten, which was an odd finding seeing as everyone who typically cared for them had been dead for nearly a week. In fact, none of the animals on the farm had been harmed in any way. The dog, which was found barking in the barn, had been patiently tied up by whoever had killed the family and was shaken but otherwise healthy. This information left investigators rather puzzled, as it implied that whoever had killed the family had done their dark deed and then stayed around for several days feeding the cattle and making themselves at home before fleeing the scene. Why would anyone do that? Nobody knew.

The baffled police went about struggling to find a motive, but came up with more mysteries. At first it was presumed that the motive must have been pure and simple robbery. After all, the Grubers were a very wealthy family and it was not uncommon to find vagrants and thieves in the general area, however, although some paper money had been taken off of the corpses, a significant amount of gold coins and valuable jewelry had been untouched. Surely someone with robbery in mind who had stuck around the farm for days after the murders would have uncovered these valuables? Curiously, it was found that Viktoria had emptied her bank account a few weeks previously and left a 700 goldmark donation to her church for what she’d called “missionary work,” but the rest of her money was unaccounted for. It was not known if this had any connection to the murders, and so it remained merely an odd detail.

The maid's room

The maid’s room

Police then started to suspect that the murders had been a crime of passion. Suspicion fell on a man by the name of Lorenz Schlittenbauer who had been a suitor of Viktoria’s. Viktoria had always claimed to the end that Josef had been Schlittenbauer’s son, but since everyone in the village thought that Josef had been the result of an incestuous affair between Andreas Gruber and Viktoria, it was believed that Schlittenbauer could have lashed out in a jealous fit of rage. It also could have been to escape alimony payments, because it later came to light that Viktoria had been on the verge of suing Schlittenbauer for this right before the murders. Since he had been remarried and with another child at that point, who had sadly died at a young age, having to pay for alimony payments for a child he couldn’t even be certain was really his when his own had died may have been a trigger for the violence.

Other weird little details also seemed to point to Schlittenbauer’s involvement. First off, he just so happened to be one of the members of the original search party who had gone to the farm to look for the Gruebers after they had gone missing. While he had been there, it was reported that the dog tied up in the barn had taken a particular dislike to Schlittenbauer, and had barked profusely at him the whole time he had been there. In addition, one witness said later that Schlittenbauer had seemed to be remarkably unperturbed by the sight of the bloodied bodies, and had been able to unstack the bodies in the barn without showing any sign of disgust. When he had been asked why he was disturbing the corpses before police arrived, he was reported to have said that he needed to find his boy. Beyond such an amazing calmness in the face of such death and violence, Schlittenbauer also demonstrated a beyond normal familiarity with the farm, and was able to navigate his way round the property effortlessly, as if he had spent a lot of time there. All of this certainly raised eyebrows, and Schlittenbauer was questioned extensively by police, but in the end they simply did not have enough concrete evidence to link him to the crime and he was never arrested for it. In fact, to this day no one has ever been arrested for it.

Regardless of who actually committed the murders, there are many other unexplained features of the case. Why did the perpetrator hide out at the farm for so long before making their move? Surely the footprints and noises in the attic must have been those of the murderer, but these events were happening long before the murders took place. If the original maid who quit on the grounds of a haunting had in fact been hearing the murderer, then that would mean the culprit would have been hiding out undiscovered on the property for a full 6 months. In addition, why would the murderer stay nearly a week after the killings, have meals, and even feed the cattle? What purpose could that possibly fulfill? Nobody knows.

The Hinterkaifeck farmhouse

The Hinterkaifeck farmhouse

The bodies of the six victims were eventually buried in a graveyard in Waidhofen, without their heads since those had been sent to Munich for analysis and had never been returned. The skulls are thought to have been lost sometime during the chaos of WWII and no one is really sure what happened to them, which is a mystery in and of itself. The six headless bodies are buried alongside a memorial.

The investigation of the Hinterkaifeck murders would ultimately go on for years, with over 100 suspects questioned, without getting police any closer to solving the mystery, and the case has become one of Germany’s most enduring unsolved mysteries. To this day, not a single suspect has ever been apprehended for the crimes. Police got so desperate that at one point they even hired clairvoyants to handle the skulls of the murder victims, to no effect. Over the years, the mysterious murders have become fertile grounds for amateur sleuths to debate and pick apart the case in their search for answers, much like the Jack the Ripper case has stimulated similar ongoing analysis. Many theories from the rational to the fringe have been put forward to try and get a grip on the mystery.

One idea was that Viktoria’s ex-husband, Karl Gabriel, carried out the murders. Although Gabriel had supposedly been killed in the trenches of World War I, his body had never actually been found and had ever received a proper burial, so it was speculated that he may have come back for his wife. Upon hearing of Viktoria’s incestuous relationship with her father and of her involvement with Schlittenbauer, he could have snapped and murdered them all in a crime of passion. This theory was fueled by the reports of two people who came forward claiming to have met a Russian soldier after WWII who had claimed to be the “Hinterkaifeck Killer.” It has been speculated that he originally faked his death to be free of his wife, but had changed his mind and come back only to be less than pleased with what awaited him at home.


Others have pointed to the seemingly paranormal elements of the case, such as the ghosts reported by the original maid on the farm, as well as the strange noises heard by Gruber himself, the mysterious newspaper, and the inexplicable footprints in the snow. In light of these details, there are those who think the culprit was no man at all, but rather some kind of vengeful supernatural force that had set its sights on the family.

The puzzling case poses so many questions and unexplained mysteries, and to this day it is no closer to being solved than it was back in 1922. For its part, the Munich Police Department has on occasion reopened the case. It did so in both 1996 and again in 2007, but on both occasions ran into nothing but dead ends. The police have said that it is likely that the case will never be solved, since so many years have passed, the evidence is scarce or has been lost over the years, witnesses and suspects have died, and because the investigative techniques of those days were fairly primitive, resulting in incomplete records and evidence. That doesn’t stop amateurs from trying, and debate and discussion on the murders is likely to continue for many years to come.

In Germany, the case of the Hinterkaifeck murders has become legendary, and is the subject of several books and movies. The farm itself is long gone, having been demolished in 1923 by villagers unhappy with having such a monument to death and horror still standing in the vicinity. All that stands there now is a monument and the memories and ghosts of those events pervading the quiet trees amongst which a truly terrible crime unfolded all those years ago. It seems that it is a very real possibility that those trees will remain the only ones to know what really transpired here.

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  • ivr

    I have know of this story for some time but I never knew the full details; a very creepy story. However, I do have one question, what happened to the money and their possessions? The story suggest they had a large sum of gold coins on the property and that they were a well to do family so…. did they have heirs? What happened to the money?

  • Brent Swancer

    That’s actually a pretty good question. I’m not sure. I know that other than some petty pocket money none of the stuff that was way more valuable lying around the house was stolen. I suppose those were all confiscated by authorities.

    As for what was in all of their bank accounts, I have not been able to figure that out. We know that Viktoria cleaned out her account a few weeks prior to the murders, which is a bit suspicious, and no one knows what happened to that money except for the large donation made to the church. As for the other Gruebers? Unknown. I suppose it was dealt with by authorities as well. It does not seem to be connected to the murders in any way or that would have been uncovered by the police and in all of my research for this article I found no hint of that.

  • Erica

    This has been one of my favorite unsolved murders for several years. Lots of books have been written about the mystery, but none have been translated form German, which is frustrating.

  • RotorRob

    Enjoyed the article Brent, as much as I read this kind of stuff never read about this one before. Aces

  • Dean J

    I don’t think I’ve heard of this story either… kinda makes you hope it was a ghost or super natural. Scary to think someone could live and hide for 6 months around your house and you or your family would never know it. The dog too, if it was in the house would of detected another human in the attic

    or around.

    Any history if anyone lived in the house/farm before this family? Maybe ghosts of people who lived there before.

  • J.Griffin

    That was the only one like that one from that scene-
    I also posted some other unusual photos but I don’t have any others from Hinterkaifeck.

    Google image search:

    There are MANY posted… except the one I have up.

  • John

    i agree plus the fact that the brutality was particularly shown towards the face would mean that who ever did this had a grudge a very personal grudge. why would that make sense? you may ask. well think about it like this if you were to get really pissed off at someone you’re going to punch them in the face. it is personal when it is in the face. not to mention it could also potentially be to hide the shame of the family. Which would bring about another possibility that maybe, even though he was a loner, Mr. Gruber had a close family friend who asked them to keep him a secret in which case he killed them to hide their, and his own, shame but that isn’t likely but hey these are all just theories anyway not to mention that the original answer is probably the most likely.

  • The Emperor

    Hi Phil, thanks for the information. You raise some interesting points that were not mentioned in this article (the time in jail for the incest convictions for both the old man and his daughter, for example). I take it you believe that the murderer was Schlittenbauer. Possibly, he certainly behaved oddly. However, that doesn’t explain the unknown newspaper, or how he was able to enter and hide undetected. If the old man heard mysterious footsteps in the attic but found nothing upon investigating, where could Schlittenbauer have been hiding? And why would Schlittenbauer wipe everybody out if he was receiving blackmail payments? For that matter, if he really did believe that baby Josef actually was his son, then why would he kill him along with all of the others, especially if the only ones he would need to get rid of would be Victoria and her father? And if they actually did make some type of deal to keep the old man and Viktoria out of prison, then why would Viktoria stab him in the back metaphorically by pursuing child support from him? I suppose it’s possible that Schlittenbauer got some type of voyeuristic thrill from spying on the family, but for somebody who wants to wipe everybody out simply to avoid paying child support, he certainly would have been putting himself in a lot of danger by casing the place and hiding there for days at a time, especially if he stuck around to feed the animals and take care of the place after the massacre occurred. Granted I can only speak for myself, but if I were one of the likeliest suspects in a particularly grisly murder that I committed, I myself would never have stuck around to feed the animals and hang out at the farm for a couple days even if I were thinking that my wife may not question my disappearance from my home. I wouldn’t want anybody showing up at the farm unexpectedly and finding me caring for the animals and treating myself to a few meals; then I would be forced to murder somebody else. Let’s face it, the more I murder, the more likely I am to get caught. Very strange indeed.

    One final thought: I enjoy reading these types of unsolved mysteries. Do you know of any others that may not be as well known? Obviously the cases of Lizzie Borden, William & Julia Wallace, the New Orleans Axe Man, and the infamous Hall-Mills murders are well-known to crime aficionados; any others you may know of to list would be greatly appreciated.

  • J.F.Davis

    I replied to this, no?

  • Marie Yates Taylor

    Hi Group,

    I have read of this crime before, though I must say, not nearly this researched. Kudos. My long-held thoughts are those I wish to relate here.

    Peter Kurten was certainly one of my thoughts too. He was mobile. He was active. He was insane.

    My hypotheses:

    The entire story revolves around the hatred for the father. Indeed, I believe incest WAS an issue. The behavior of the father as described certainly meets criteria and behavior of someone who controls who would be accessible to this truth and his menacing Viktoria by coercion or strong-arm tactics. There was enough proof to arrest them both and that would require verbal collaborating witness/outcry testimony, even at that time in history, not hearsay. So there could have been an admission here within the legal questioning. She may have a lower sentencing because it may have been she who admitted this. Documents may still turn up as historical documents sometimes do.

    I do believe Viktoria was well-acquainted with Schlittenbauer. He was a neighbor. Possibly even had a relationship of type with him before his (new, as stated) marriage. I believe, she may well have not known whose child she has, and possibly named Schlittenbauer in her best belief. But, consider for me the fact that she did not live under a basket. She very well knew other people, such as at church. Schlittenbauer may have been unaffected so much by the scene because he was personal with these people, and yet still, unconsciously acting as though he is grieved, because this rescued him from a child support obligation that he had expressed he didn’t want.

    In real life, not every sexual incestuous survivor wants this family situation to continue. I believe, even now, that Viktoria had a back-up plan. I believe she HAD intended to take herself and her children away and leave for a proper married life with a new interest. I believe she planned this for a while. Plans for leaving to somewhere where people didn’t talk about incests and arrests and adding her name. She would have been happy to have a marriage. She wanted to live where her daughter was not going to chosen as another victim. And maybe Viktoria’s dad had designs on the granddaughter. This would have been complete incentive for Viktoria wanting to get away and leave. She emptied her bank account, and she remembered her beloved church with donation in anticipation of leaving. And, with a new maid there, her parents were going to be looked after, starting the day the maid came. There was a timeline of hiring the maid to hasten this leaving since all bases were now covered.

    I believe the footprints were his. He had come around six months earlier. What was to be was that the Killer came around to cement the deal and keep her “promised” into that elopement. By taking out all of her money, I believe she intended to leave the area and made sure her church (and friends) were given her donation as her heart really was with the people she saw at church each week and she wanted them blessed and remembered (while she had left and gone away).

    Her paramour/intended came around and became the noises the first maid heard in the night. Was he talking with Viktoria? Was dad aware someone was around, and searched out, and finally located what was proof that convinced him, and words were exchanged, whereby the maid heard these conversational exchanges. My bet could be Viktoria was not unaware and suspected his presence due to the maid’s concerns; however, maybe not in agreeance with this unexpected house guest. Viktoria would have remained silent through this declarations, but she would have known the source of the footsteps and conversation.

    Toward evening, when Viktoria and her daughter were still dressed, presence was made known and they were in the barn together, with the killer pressing for it to be today; maybe, it was even planned to be that day. I believe Viktoria admitted to her intended that indeed the baby was her father’s. This is where rage began. Viktoria and the daughter who had no fault in this, and who was possibly protecting mom, may have became the target of a backhand, a swat, a knocked-her-down, or knocked-her-out. The little girl was never the target, but she could have followed, or tried to protect momma, for example. Once her presence was made known, she was expendable though not through malice.

    When Viktoria did not return, perhaps father looked for her. Then mother looked for THEM. Each arriving at the barn being met by the axe upon entry. The killer would not have to seek them all out one by one if dad was possessive and forbidding her to marry and leave (at any time of her life). More reason to try to escape, and doing that under the protection of a man or lover (an assisted escape to freedom and a new life not of incest).

    The money she took from the bank that was missing could very well have been to arrange the transport they would use and, therefore, was already arranged leaving that this money was not expected to be on the premises. In other words, no longer in her possession. That and the church is where the money went. And Viktoria may very well have known, herself, what the maid was hearing in the attic was this man, or suspected that to be so.

    This man probably was not arranged to leave for a week. He stayed on property, feeding animals, doing chores so suspicion would not be aroused due to the silence or absence of the regular routine and its semblence of normal to passing neighbors or regular area traffic. His “ride” arrived and he timed his get-a-way to coincide with the arrival of the transport he pre-arranged for “escape” for them all, he would have trekked to meet. Perhaps, the transport had been advised of the elopement and was told not to be seen. “We’ll meet YOU”, (at the appointed time and place).

    Killing the little boy was BECAUSE he was an admitted incest child, and the realization that Viktoria had lied or lead him to believe differently, causing trauma to someone who may really have been on-board with the whole dad/husband/marriage idea. But, by this point of an admission, Killer had only contempt when he had been assured that child support would not be coming for “Schlittenbauer’s son”. (Newlywed Schlittenbauer was no longer an escape option. They would not be married onto the next farm because daddy would not hear of it. “Too far away from him being that close.” And really a husband too close to daddy to be comfortable with that idea of an unwanted daughter’s-husband.) But, in the end, I believe it was admitted to Killer, that child was, indeed, not Schlittenbauer’s, and that no money would be forth-coming from the newlywed neighbor. Killing the maid was a no-brainer. After all of this, she may have seen him that day (her first work day). She could have known him, were they two from that area for a time. He knew he was ID’ed if he didn’t kill her.

    Two things strike me strange.

    (1) Dad’s dressed for bed but Viktoria is not. Would Dad not have tracked her whereabouts before he retired? We are talking about her POSSESSIVE, grip-hold dad. So he very well would have searched the property to find her if she did not answer his call. We all know someone’s mannerisms who believe they have their thumb on your every move. I believe Viktoria was killed firstly. Daughter secondly. Dad or Mom nextly when searching for Viktoria. Then the maid. Then the boy. The boy would have been lastly because the Killer would have had to be absolutely certain of his feelings before he did in the one thing that caused all of this. The father was not the humiliation. It was the boy-child Killer would raise at the risk of someone learning this awful truth in their new area.

    And secondly,

    (2) They were covered. All of them covered means to me that he knew them. There was an affection for them. He chose not to look at what he had done to them. He was bothered by the pain and torment he had caused. But, then, it was caused from his pain and his world crashing down on him, hisself dying inside. The agony of the truth from Viktoria, the woman he was loving.

    Consequently, this WAS a crime of passion. A man who felt his love, and her love, and the sudden ending of a dream for them. There had to be anger, rage, freaking, and in-depth questioning, and in the end, total and extreme disappointment to learn the truth. And, Viktoria may have told him herself wanting a new life and wanting it to start out in the best way possible. “Will he still want me?”

    I don’t claim I’m right. But, over the years, my theory fits pretty good and I don’t believe it was Schlitterbauer and I don’t believe it was a stranger.

    I’ve toyed with the idea that that person was, indeed, Peter Kurten. I’ve tried to fit him into this scenario because he was in proximity, and he was a murderer, and he was insane. But, that part may not hold-water and may not fly. It would be a matter of learning who Viktoria admired in the community, at church, whose visiting family member she had met the full six months earlier, and taken a love interest in. And dad probably forbade everything she approached him with about a new life she wanted.

    To finalize, these murders were not pre-planned. They were definitely a crime of passion and the major catalyst would be so grievous as to shatter that love in a moment. The murder weapon was the one he was comfortable using for other purpose. He reverted to “training” when he picked that weapon.

    As far as the maids decrepancy. I believe that date may be wrong. The May could be 1921 and second maid coming and dying in 1922. And could be recurring copying-typo picked up and never changed. That can be validated to satisfaction for sure in the end.

    Perhaps, the reason this went down THAT day was BECAUSE a new maid had come and there would not be many chances to meet up around the homestead together with another set of eyes watching outside. Time was getting short and plans were activated. And, then as I said, maybe the new maid saw him or was not as spooky-minded as the first maid and decided to check it out in a no-nonsense way that made her dangerous to the operation in motion. Does seem that he had been coming around for quite some time if he was known/heard/foot tracks six months before.

    Please comment. I’m really wanting to know the group’s thoughts on this.

  • The Emperor

    Possibly but seeing as how much of that occurred the day before the murders, I find that odd. Stories like this certainly intrigue me.

  • Very interesting case! Some facts were “ehh” but it was still a good read!

  • Donna Golladay

    I agree with the husband, but in my version: The four in the barn were doing chores, had fed the animals – and while they were doing this, he took out the maid in her room (he’d been hiding in the attic, waiting for his chance). Then crept to the barn and took out those four, then stayed around awhile. A newspaper that no one recognized fits perfectly, with this suspect.

  • Sylvain Deslippes

    Everyone wants to link the noise in the attic and other strange occurring to the murder, it only serve to complicate the case and these events can easily not being related at all. Then we are left simply with a mass murder case. A case like that you need to KISS it. Keep It Simple Stupid. I think the cops had their culprit in the person of Lorenz Schlittbauer, they just could not prove that he was on the crime scene, which is quite normal for the era (I’m sure they are many cold cases in those days for lack of forensic evidence). He has a plausible motive, the dog’s behavior is an interesting tell tale and his own behavior is quite disconcerting. Why would he kill his own son? Maybe he came to believe the rumors about the incestuous father (that being part of the motive). Why staying around the farm and feed the animals? I find it strange that every body seems to be flabbergasted by this question. I think he could have simply wanted to enjoy for a while the farm of the man who robbed him of a son and a wife. This is not unheard of. How many case we know of that the perpetrator stays around the crime scene for a while to enjoy a beer and the flat screen TV. In those days people did not have so many toys to play around with, so feeding the animal and putting a free meal in one stomach would be something enjoyable back then. Here it is problem solve, not so mysterious after all unless you really like it better when it is mysterious. Then you are the one making it mysterious. hoooooo..

  • iz

    It was the first maid, with the pickax, in the farm.

    She started the rumors, she left.

    Motive: The family pissed her off because of the abuse and the unwillingness to stand up to Andreas, and decided they should all die.

    Suspicions: All the animals were fed? Maid work.

    Everyone was covered, couldn’t bare the sight of the bodies, but had enough conviction to kill them? Womanly behavior.

    Tracks in the snow… come on, she used two boots and pressed them where she had stepped until she got in the house.

    Also, the first made having have lived with them for so long would have definitely known where their gold coins were, and it was likely her trying to pick that lock.

    It was the first maid, the Unnamed woman who nobody would suspect, but I see the truth in everything.

  • subu

    I beleive it was the previous maid & that Viktoria had been trying to pay her off possibly to get her to not spread more info to town folk about what went on in the house plus whoever it was had to know the family well enough to lure them to the barn and she did so bc she wasnt able to physically fight off the father especially if she was caught in the act.. she probably stayed and “upkept” the farm from possible guilt/habbit/mentally disturbed- “beyond just a murderer” or possibly she felt she may inherit the estate being she may have been closest to the family or could work there for next family! She may have also been in a religious cult at the time and believed she was saving them all.. and that she could of been warning ppl of demons possesing the family etc.

  • Henri Dominique Paratte

    I do notreally believe a woman would have had the strength and ability to perform those killings – unless of course she was inhabited and fuelled by a cult-like rage. But your last sentence ties in very much with what I believe. The gruesome violence, the beheadings, the burial outside of a cemetery, all point out to me at some form of community-fostered blood cleansing ritual where basically “the Seed of Satan” would be taken out of the community. I don’t think it would be difficult to find numerous incidents around the communities nearby where animals would have been sick, children would have died, etc…and since there were no Jews to blame the Grubers and their incestuous universe were obviously to eradicate for the better, and it to be very bloody because “Blutshande” (blood defiling) called for Bloodletting. I personally think that the former maid clearly informed some people who decided the time had come to perform that necessary function. Apparently she was far away when it took place, but she might have been brought back for all we know, since she was one of the few who would still the animals, in particular the dog, and be able to talk to everyone. The real killer(s) accompanied her and were basically waiting behind her to perform their bloody but – in their eyes – so necessary task. The Saturday and Sunday – we are around Easter period as well – would have been days of purification for the house, verifying that the “spirits: had indeed gone. Obviously religious faith and beliefs in supernatural forces go hand in hand, so cutting the Grubers’ heads off meant that they would never be able to come back and haunt the community, a measure judged insufficient after a while since the farm had simply to be totally destroyed. As in several other mass murder mysteries where a family is killed, it is this desire to eradicate a whole bloodline that is striking in the Hinterkaifeck murders. Except it is done here in an even more gruesome manner than, for instance, in the Villisca or other US axe murders.

  • Henri Dominique Paratte

    The main problem with this option is simple: he had a family, he wasn’t alone in the world, it was a weekend around Easter time, so it’s very unlikely his wife would have considered normal for him not to be home. By the way, the incest was not a rumor – both Andreas and Viktoria were convicted and jailed for it. Yes, Lorenz may have been quite mad at the idea that he was going to be sued for alimony by the woman whose father had objected to their marriage (obviously because Andreas didn’t want to share her). Mad enough, possibly, to strangle Viktoria? Possibly. Mad enough to kill in cold blood and organized fashion the whole family while keeping the dog alive? I personally doubt it. Largely because he was not a single guy and his absence from home would have been noticed. I think it more likely that he was involved in the conspiracy to get rid of the Grubers for religious-spiritual reasons. Quite possibly because he knew the farm and wa sone of the people Viktoria would have joined for a talk without wondering too much why he was there.

  • Henri Dominique Paratte

    Gd point. The maidactually started on March 30, one day before the killings. Unless you go for the vagrant psychopath as the muderer, this coincidence sounds actually quite weird.

  • Henri Dominique Paratte

    I doubt it was a hired killer that turned against Viktoria (the hired killer would at least have taken some money, and Viktoria wouldn’t have given money away to the choir) but there is no doubt in my mind there was some kind of conspiracy at work here. It is too methodical to be solely a crime of passion.

  • Henri Dominique Paratte

    The returning husband option is certainly a valid one except there is no proof he wasn’t killed in the war – and knowing Germany police and the army would normally have been thorough enough to check that. If we go beyond that hurdle he had every reason to commit the crime – in the months he had possibly spent in the attic he was able to notice his wife having sex with at least one other male. However, wouldn’t she have been the one who brought him to the farm in the first place? why would she have waited months to show him to her father? After all the war was over and nobody would have chased him around for potential desertion any longer. If we follow that trend, my guess is that he was severely shell-shocked and hurt in the face, which may explain why the Grubers were actually hit so savagely in the face. I personally do not support the husband theory nor the lover’s. I think we’re dealing here with a community conspiracy of more sinister proportions. I think that neither the husband nor the lover would have eradicated the whole family in such a gruesome way, Someone would have fought, someone would have run, someone would have defended themselves.

  • I was thinking the same culprit.

    Maybe it was the made because she got mad at some part (crazy) she began hearing noises, she got paranoic because of people in town or the neighboars at the farm were talking about her boss and his family to be bad people.

  • Tiina Wiik

    1920’s were especially desperate times in Germany. There was a lot of unemployment and poverty because the war and the peace terms struck Germans hard. That 700 marks alone would’ve been a considerable sum, and most likely she was left with even more after the donation. No doubt there’d be desperate people who’d kill for that money. In a way that’d explain why the murderer stayed: maybe he/they didn’t have another place to go and rich people’s farm had cupboards full of food and warm beds to sleep in.

  • Marissa Casady

    The murderer.didn’t behead them. After the initial.crude autopsies in the barn, the heads were all removed and sent to “psychics” . Which even in 1912 seems quite lazy and medieval to me. They were altogether lazy and limited in their investigation and money and resources. The War machine was revving its new.engine. There was some incident involving the war that caused the heads to be lost. So they weren’t returned for proper burial. The dead weren’t singled out as you say, and not allowed to be buried in the “regular” or “Christian ‘ cemetery. It was not uncommon for rural families to be buried on their own land. Personally I think.the villagers made the wrong call razing the place. Of course they wouldn’t have the prescience.then but today the area would be making hand over fist cash charging for tours to the “murder house” and perhaps even charging for overnight stays. Lol please excuse my typos. My phone is crap.

  • Marissa Casady

    I’m diverging from Henri’s response to you own response in rebuttal. Don’t think Schlittenbauer murdered them. I’ve weighed and analyzed and I see why police eliminated him. I do think he and Andreas has a strained regard for each other but it was apparently still a grudging tolerance toward each other. They may not have liked much about the other but it’s clear that they tolerated each other cut they did still speak to one another and as rural small community neighbors do, assist each other in the communal way as was customary. It’s like that coworker you can’t stand but you still speak to and have to pull through with to accomplish what you need tfor work. It was Viktorria who wanted to marry Schlittenbaur, not the other way around (as far as initiating the suggestion ). It seems evident to me that perhaps (or perhaps not if it came time to follow through)hatthat he may have marries her if Andreas had given his blessing but he seemed to me to be OK with just screwing her & seeing his maybe son lol. She was known to be promiscuous. I’m betting that he was like most men down with the fun but not a woman he’d truly want to marry. When Andreas told Schlittenbaur about the tracks in the snow and noises above, Schlittenbauer did offerAndreas his gun (which Andreas declined). Remember, that at the time of the murders, Schlittenbauer had already been remarried & had lost his baby with his new wife only days before the murders. As the other poster said it makes no sense that he would have the care, time or opportunity to have hidden on the property leading up to the murder as well as hang out over the weekend . The year after as the place was to be razed, they found the murder weapon in the attic and human excrement.

  • Marissa Casady

    It was not the husband “returned ” from a faked death. *land mine* *brutality in the way the victims were killed = extraordinary psychotic rage but not consistent with the psychological makeup of the husband even if he were still alive at the time . I don’t know which type of land mine killed him but I’ve yet to read of one from that era that would inflict the minor damage you suggest , to superficial extent on the face! It was a land mine. Not a pipe bomb

  • Marissa Casady

    Some of these outlandish “theories” are too far fetched to even support a bad movie plot. It’s like a really bad “new plot twist ” game done very very badly. In order to have credible theories and continuation from such theories, they must incorporate foundations of realistic possibility from the psychological perspective of the suspects, and realistic and possible conditions allowed in the realm of the environment of the suspects. And, physical capability.

  • Delron DaThugg

    Strikes to the heads as described in the autopsy reports were MASSIVE and almost all hit the right side of the face and head. Killer was undoubtedly left handed (unless he got the drop on them all from behind…doubtful). And, given the time period, the killer was undoubtedly also a male to have been able to handle a pickaxe so well.

    There were reports the murder weapon wasn’t found until during the demolition the following year in 1923, in the attic / crawl space. Could there have also have been a secret or hidden compartment or area up there? Or perhaps the killer came back to revisit the scene, as it was previously noted that the entire property was searched but the murder weapon did not turn up then.

  • Gary Strand

    The victims must have been immobilized prior to being hit with a pick ax (since all of the wounds had been precise and confidently delivered, with only a single, decisive blow). It would not be possible to hit a moving object with a pick ax. Especially a person that is reacting, probably with raised arms, to someone swinging a pick axe at them.

  • Skabb132

    Because you’ve tried many times unsuccessfully? There are billions on this planet who would say that eating 69 hotdogs in ten minutes is impossible yet it happened. Please dont speak anymore, you dont seem qualified to do so, Sherlock.

  • Skabb132

    Oh, is that how “most murderers get themselves into trouble”? Well, since you have this info Im sure you can tell me how many murders have ever been committed, Im curious. And since you have all this data, could you tell me how many murderers got themselves into trouble by keeping the murder weapon, or by leaving hair at the scene? Again, Im curious and you seem to have massive amounts of data at your disposal. Either that or you are full of it and dont know what you are talking about….

  • Tony Nightstick

    Stunningly similar to the Villisca murders of about a decade before in Iowa. While it’s highly unlikely that there’s any connection, Hinterkaifeck brought Villisca to mind immediately.

  • Jenelle

    Not sure how factual this article is, considering the names are spelled differently between the start and finish, and the date is written as May instead of March. In a different article I read, it states the autopsy found multiple blows to the victims. Not just one clean blow. I wish I could find one article that just has strict facts. Is the article I’m referring to.

  • Lilly

    Schlittenbauer did it, he had motive. The dogs reaction to him is also very telling.

    He was sneaking in the house and hiding to have relations with Viktoria. He and Viktoria were making the noises that the first maid thought were ghost.

    He could have become enraged over the alimony suit for a child he knew was the result of her perverted evil dad (who was probably behind the demand for alimony in the first place to hide the fact that the baby was his.) She was too afraid of her dad to go against his plans, and to Schlittenbauer that was like choosing her dad over him and he did not wan to pay for a child that was not his and the result of incest. He snapped, strangled her to unconsciousness, then probably panicked and finished her with the pic ax. He then decided to kill the entire family.