Hinterkaifeck murders

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Hinterkaifeck
Hinterkaifeck-Hof.jpg
Hinterkaifeck five days after the attack
Location Modern-day Waidhofen, Bavaria, Germany
Date March 31, 1922 (1922-03-31)
Target Gruber family
Attack type
Home invasion, mass murder
Weapons Mattock
Deaths 6
Perpetrators unknown
Shrine near site of former farmstead

Hinterkaifeck was a small farmstead situated between the Bavarian towns of Ingolstadt and Schrobenhausen, approximately 70 kilometres (43 mi) north of Munich. On the evening of March 31, 1922, the six inhabitants of the farm were killed with a mattock. The murders remain unsolved.

The six victims were the farmer Andreas Gruber (63) and his wife Cäzilia (72); their widowed daughter Viktoria Gabriel (35); Viktoria's children, Cäzilia (7) and Josef (2); and the maid, Maria Baumgartner (44).

Hinterkaifeck was never an official place name. The name was used for the remote farmstead of the hamlet of Kaifeck, located nearly 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) north of the main part of Kaifeck and hidden in the woods (the prefix Hinter, part of many German place names, means behind), part of the town of Wangen, which was incorporated into Waidhofen in 1971.

Crime[edit]

A few days prior to the crime, farmer Andreas Gruber told neighbors about discovering footprints in the snow leading from the edge of the forest to the farm, but none leading back. He also spoke about hearing footsteps in the attic and finding an unfamiliar newspaper on the farm. Furthermore, the house keys went missing several days before the murders. None of this was reported to the police prior to the attack.

Six months earlier, the previous maid had left the farm, claiming that it was haunted; the new maid, Maria Baumgartner, arrived on the farm on the day of the attack and was killed hours later.

Exactly what happened on that Friday evening cannot be said for certain. It is believed that the older couple, as well as their daughter Viktoria, and her daughter, Cäzilia, were all lured into the barn one by one, where they were killed. The perpetrator(s) then went into the house where they killed two‑year‑old Josef, who was sleeping in his cot in his mother's bedroom, as well as the maid, Maria Baumgartner, in her bedchamber.

On the following Tuesday, April 4, neighbors came to the farmstead because none of its inhabitants had been seen for several days. The postman had noticed that the post from the previous Saturday was still where he had left it. Furthermore, young Cäzilia had not turned up for school on Monday, nor had she been there on Saturday.

Investigation[edit]

Inspector Georg Reingruber and his colleagues from the Munich Police Department investigated the killings. More than 100 suspects have been questioned through the years, but to no avail. The most recent questioning took place in 1986, fruitlessly.

In 2007 the students of the Polizeifachhochschule (Police Academy) in Fürstenfeldbruck got the task of investigating the case once more with modern techniques of criminal investigation. They came to the conclusion that it is impossible to completely solve the crime after so much time had passed. There is a lack of evidence because the investigation techniques were primitive. In addition, evidence has been lost and suspects have since died. Nevertheless, the students did establish a prime suspect, but did not name them out of respect for still‑living relatives.[1]

The police first suspected the motive to be robbery, and interrogated several inhabitants from the surrounding villages, as well as traveling craftsmen and vagrants. The robbery theory was, however, abandoned when a large amount of money was found in the house. It is believed that the perpetrator(s) remained at the farm for several days – someone had fed the cattle, and eaten food in the kitchen, and the neighbors saw smoke from the chimney during the weekend – and anyone looking for money would have found it.

The death of Karl Gabriel, Viktoria's husband who had been reported killed in the French trenches in World War I, was called into question. His body had never been found. Despite this, most of his fellow soldiers reported seeing him die and their reports were believed by police.

The day after the discovery of the bodies, court physician Johann Baptist Aumüller performed the autopsies in the barn. It was established that a mattock was the most likely murder weapon and that the younger Cäzilia had been alive for several hours after the assault. Lying in the straw, next to the bodies of her grandparents and her mother, she had torn her hair out in tufts. The corpses were beheaded, and the skulls sent to Munich, where clairvoyants examined them, but to no avail.[2]

Aftermath[edit]

The six victims are buried in Waidhofen, where there is a memorial in the graveyard. The skulls were never returned from Munich, after having been lost during the chaos of World War II.

The farm was demolished a year after the attacks, in 1923. Close to where the farm was located, there is now a shrine.

Media[edit]

There are two movies with the name Hinterkaifeck: one by Hans Fegert from 1981, and one by Kurt K. Hieber in 1991.

Hinter Kaifeck is a mystery thriller from 2009 made by director Esther Gronenborn and producer Monika Raebel, starring Benno Fürmann and Alexandra Maria Lara.[3]

In 2006, German writer Andrea Maria Schenkel wrote a novel entitled Tannöd where she tells the story of Hinterkaifeck using different names for the locations and people involved. Also the novel The Murdered House, written by French writer Pierre Magnan, is allegedly inspired by this case. In this novel, the youngest victim of the massacre survives and returns to the farm as an adult to investigate the crime.

Munich journalist Peter Leuschner wrote two books with the title Hinterkaifeck: Der Mordfall. Spuren eines mysteriösen Verbrechens. in 1979 and 1997. The second book is an extension of the first book. The title means Hinterkaifeck. The Murder Case. Traces of a mysterious crime. In this book, Leuschner quotes the original police files.

In 2013, the Connecticut based musician Dan Barrett released an EP called Hinterkaifeck under the name Giles Corey.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Projektabschlussbericht zum Thema: Hinterkaifeck Ein Mordfall und kein Ende" (in German). Fachhochschule für öffentliche Verwaltung und Rechtspflege in Bayern. p. 172f. Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Leuschner, Peter (1997): Hinterkaifeck. Spuren eines mysteriösen Verbrechens. p. 76 ff.
  3. ^ Hinter Kaifeck (2009) at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°35′40″N 11°19′20″E / 48.59444°N 11.32222°E / 48.59444; 11.32222