Mystery of haunting unsolved farmhouse murders where family were slaughtered by killer who hid in their attic for months | The Sun
ON A Friday night in March, a farmer and his family were brutally murdered inside their own barn – but the disturbing clues left at the crime scene led German cops to a chilling conclusion.
The case of the slaughtered 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 her two children Cazilia, seven, and two-year-old Josef.
Their maid, Maria Baumgartner, 44, also died at the remote farm near Munich on March 31, 1922.
Neighbours found the mutilated bodies four days later after young Cazilia failed to turn up for school and letters began to pile up at the family's postbox.
As police began to investigate, the case took a chilling turn as clues suggested the killer could have hidden above the family home for months before the murders.
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In the days before the terrifying attack, Andreas found a newspaper that had not bought himself.
And he told neighbours he had seen fresh tracks leading to the house in the snow – but none leaving.
The family's last maid had also quit, believing the home to be haunted after hearing voices and strange sounds in the attic.
Its thought the family members were lured into the barn one by one before being beaten with a mattock, a type of pickaxe.
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The maid was found dead inside the home alongside toddler Josef.
A post-mortem was performed inside the barn and investigators established that young Cazilia had been alive for several hours – but whilst overcome with shock had pulled out clumps of her hair.
The heads of all the victims were removed and allegedly sent to a clairvoyant in Munich who failed to come up with any clues – before the body parts were mysteriously lost.
The case also took a disturbing turn when rumours of an incestuous relationship between Andreas and his daughter Viktoria surfaced.
The pair were found guilty of incest in 1915 and locals believed that her young son Josef could have been fathered by her dad.
To this day the case remains one of Germany's oldest unsolved mysteries, despite an elderly woman calling with a possible lead in 1999 – just 20 years ago.
HOUSE OF HORRORS
On March 31, new maid Maria arrived at Hinterkaifeck farm, near the town of Kaifeck, escorted by her sister.
She would leave shortly after 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 beaten over the head with a pickaxe.
The killer or killers then moved into the living quarters and murdered Maria and two-year-old Josef in his bed with pictures showing the terrifying scene.
The bodies then lay undiscovered for four days but bizarrely several people visited the farm and failed to find their remains.
Cazilia was also missing from school for two days and the family never turned up for Sunday church service.
Eventually, on April 4, local Lorenz Schlittenbauer led a search party to find the family and was met with a horrifying scene.
Elderly Cazilia showed signs of strangulation, Andreas' cheekbones were seen protruding from his skin, Viktoria's skull have been shattered and young Cazilia's jaw had been broken.
It is thought the seven-year-old lay injured but alive for several hours while pulling her hair out in distress.
Maria and Josef had suffered a similar fate and the tot was killed by a heavy blow to his face and he lay in his cot.
The investigation was hampered from the start, with vital evidence being lost when neighbours entered the crime scene – with meals even being cooked in the kitchen.
German police initially believed it to be 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 remained at the house for some time after the murders, feeding the cattle and eating food from the pantry.
A witness who passed the home before the bodies were found also told police that he had seen smoke coming from the fireplace and had been blinded by a person approaching him with a lantern.
He had made a hasty retreat but recalled an awful smell coming from the fireplace.
Chilling theories began to circulate and it was even suspected that Viktoria's husband, Karl, who had been killed in France during WWI could have committed the crime.
His body had never been recovered after a shell attack in December 1914.
The man who discovered the bodies, Lorenz Schlittenbauer, was also suspected after having a relationship with Viktoria and both claimed he was Josef's father.
He had planned to marry Viktoria until her father interfered and the relationship ended.
Suspicions were aroused 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 home had gone missing just days before the murders.
Other suspects included two local brothers, Adolf and Anton Gump, a farm worker, Peter Weber and a German serial killer who had committed a similar crime in the US before returning home, 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 slayings.
The demolition revealed the murder weapon in the attic and a pen-knife in the barn.
In 1999, an elderly woman contacted authorities and claimed her former landlord had information on the murders – but his death meant the lead came to a dead end.
In 2007 a group of students set out to unmask the killer using modern technology and all agreed on one suspect.
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But all vowed to keep the murderer's name secret in order to protect his relatives.
Over 100 suspects were questioned but no one was ever brought to justice over the chilling farmhouse murders.
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