From Beyond The Woods: The Hinterkaifeck Murders
The maid stood outside the farmhouse, her bags felt heavy as she placed them next to the steps of the front porch. A somber look in her eyes conveyed her uneasy feelings. She looked out into the dark forest that surrounded the secluded farmhouse. A thick, cold fog began seeping out of the tree line, reaching for the farmhouse like Death’s boney claws.
“I should be going now Mr. Gruber. It’s starting to get dark.” she said. The maid thanked Mr. Gruber again and picked up her bags and began walking down the dirt road.
Mr. Gruber didn’t say a word. He didn’t know what to make of the reason she gave to quit her job at the farmhouse. She refused to work for the Grubers and wanted to leave the grounds as fast as she could. The terrified maid told them that the farmstead was haunted and that she would not stay there another night. She was certain that ghosts inhabited the house and wanted nothing to do with the place or the occupants. He watched as she neared at the end of the dirt road, reaching the main highway that connected to the town of Ingolstadt.
As the rolling fog swallowed the maid into oblivion, Mr. Gruber stood pensive, somewhat confused and somewhat concerned. He couldn’t shake the image of the maid’s terror stricken face as she told them about the strange things she had been hearing in and around their farmhouse. Disembodied footsteps coming from the attic and other noises had lead to many sleepless nights in the house.
Weeks later, Mr. Gruber told the locals of hearing footsteps in his attic and of having found a set of footprints in the snow. The tracks came from the forest that surrounded his property and lead straight up to his house. He told them that the footprints ended abruptly and that there were no set of footprints leading back into the dark forest.
Six months after the maid had left Hinterkaifeck farm, on the evening of March 31, 1922, the entire Gruber Family and their new maid were murdered in cold blood. The Hinterkaifeck Farm Murders remain one of Germany’s most unnerving murder mysteries.
An hour’s drive from Munich is Kaifeck, a small Bavarian village made up from a few scattered farmsteads. One farm in particular stood apart from the others. Nestled deep in a German forest, Hinterkaifeck existed isolated from the prying eyes of the rest of the villagers.
Everyone in Kaifeck knew of the Grubers, the family of five that ran and lived in HinterKaifeck. Sixty-three-year-old Andreas Gruber. His wife Cazilia of seventy-two years of age and their widowed daughter, Viktoria. Viktoria had two children. Two-year-old Josef and seven-year-old Cazilia.
Andreas was known throughout town to have physically abused his wife and to have had an incestuous relationship with his daughter. For this reason, many people chose not to associate with the Grubers. Rumors had been spreading in the village that Andreas was the actual father of two-year-old Josef.
Watcher in the woods
In the middle of March of 1922, Andreas Gruber was outside inspecting his farm after a brief snowstorm had fallen the night before. While surveying his property, he noticed a long track of footprints, deep in the fresh snow that lead to the back of his home. Andreas followed the track until they suddenly stopped, a few feet away from his house. Alarmed, he turned around and began to follow the tracks far into the fields that surrounded his farm.
As Andreas marched through the powdery snow, he could see where the trail was leading to. A few hundred yards out, Andreas saw that the footprints had came from the dark woods that surrounded HinterKaifeck. A chill ran down his spine and he raced back to inspect his home. After searching his barn, tool shed, and house, Andreas sat perplexed at the strange tracks of a late night visitor that seemed to have simply, disappeared.
He thought about what his former maid had told him about the farm. About how she was leaving because of the ghosts that haunted his home. Andreas shook the thought out of his head and went back inside his house. While asleep that night, he was awoken by the sound of footsteps coming from his attic. Andreas woke his wife, who immediately ran to grab his gun. After inspecting the attic and the rest of the house, he found nothing and urged his wife to go back to bed. Andreas sat up all night worrying about the high strangeness that had fallen upon Hinterkaifeck.
The next morning he woke up early to look for more footprints. Having found non, he went back to the house only to find an unfamiliar newspaper sitting in his porch. He inspected the newspaper and shuddered. No one in his house had ever read, nor seen this newspaper before.
After inspecting his entire farm and finding nothing once again, Andreas talked to a neighbor about the strangeness that was going on in his farm. His neighbor reported no problems on his farm, nor in any of the other farms that he had visited. Frustrated, Andreas went back home. When he went to grab his keys from his desk he noticed that they were gone, someone had taken them. Checking on his tool shed, he noticed that someone had tried to pick the lock.
After questioning his entire family and coming up with no answers to the whereabouts of his keys or the lock picking, Andreas gave up. He spent another night laying awake in his bed, frustrated and terrified. This was the night of March 30th, 1922. The night before the murders.
Death arrives at Hinterkaifeck
Maria Baumgartner arrived at the Hinterkaifeck farm early in the afternoon of March 31st. Her first day into her new job would be the last day she’d be alive. For hours after arriving at the farm, the maid along with the entire Gruber clan would be murdered with a pickaxe in a grisly and unnerving crime.
Not having heard from any of the Grubers in days, the locals began to grow suspicious. The young Cazilia had not showed for class that Monday and wasn’t in class Tuesday, April 4th. That’s when they found out from the postman mail for the Grubers had been piling up since Saturday, four days ago, and no one had come in to pick it up. The neighbors mounted a search party and traversed through the dark woods and arrived at HinterKaifeck to find the place eerily still. After calling out their names and not getting any responses, they proceeded to inspect the farm.
The first place they checked was the barn that sat a few yards away from the house. In there, they were horrified to find the bodies of Andreas, his wife, his daughter Viktoria, and his granddaughter Cazilia. Laying in a large pool of coagulated blood. All appeared to have been lured into the barn and killed one by one as they entered into their deaths. What unnerved the men was when they noticed that Cazilia had torn clumps of her hair out. She had been alive long enough to see the horrors unfold before her young eyes.
They went on to inspected the house, not to their surprise they found Josef and the new maid also laying in a pool of blood. News of the killings reached the Munich police department within hours.
An investigation at Hinterkaifeck
Munich police found that nothing of value had been taken from the house. In fact, the state in which the farm was found in had everyone spooked. Whoever had killed the Grubers, had also slept and ate next to their cold bodies.
The police were able to determine that the murderer, or murderers, fed the livestock throughout the weekend as well eating some of the food in the house and sleeping inside the Gruber’s home. When questioned, neighbors reported seeing smoke billowing up from the chimney of the house throughout the weekend. Thinking nothing of it, they continued with their daily lives without the slightest inkling that something afoul was stirring inside HinterKaifeck.
Combing through the entire house, police were able to find a large sum of money and other valuables scattered throughout. Their theory of the murders being a ‘robbery gone bad’ was soon giving way. Nevertheless, the police began the task of questioning several villagers from Kaifeck and the surrounding areas. Travelers and migrant workers were also investigated and questioned, but nothing came of it. The official autopsy reports confirmed that the entire family and maid were murdered in cold blood with a pickaxe.
The HinterKaifeck Murders have remained unsolved throughout the years. All physical evidence leads to the conclusion that this was a crime of passion. Therefore it was speculated that Viktoria’s former suitor, a man named Lorenz Schlittenbauer could have been the killer. But why him?
It was said the Schlittenbauer was Josef’s father, but almost everyone in the village knew that Josef’s father was his real grandfather. When questioned by the police, Schlittenbauer informed them that he knew that Andreas and his daughter were having and incestuous relationship and that Josef was a product of it. Killing them wouldn’t have served Schlittenbauer any purpose. Still, the police continued with their investigation until they weren’t able to pin anything on Schlittenbauer. The case grew cold.
There are those who believe that the only explanation is a paranormal one. The former maid had quit under the guise that the farm was haunted. She was too scared to work there and therefore quit. She had told Andreas and Cazilia about the strange sounds coming from the attic months before Andreas found the footprints leading to his house. Months before he found the unfamiliar newspaper in his home, and months before he himself hearing the strange footsteps coming from attic nights before being murdered.
The following year after the murders, locals had the isolated farmstead destroyed. The memories and the unsettling rumors of the Grubers buried away deep in the dark forest. Where only the woods from which those strange footprints emerged that cold March morning, only they know exactly what occurred in Hinterkaifeck.