The Gruber Family Murders Remains One Of The Strangest Unsolved Mysteries Ever

The case of the Gruber family murders in 1922 remains one of the strangest unsolved mysteries ever. It all took place approximately 60 miles north of Munich, Germany, on Hinterkaifeck ranch — the Gruber family’s farm.

Before the family of five, as well as their housemaid, were brutally killed, patriarch Andreas Gruber reportedly told neighbors about footprints spotted in the snow coming from the nearby woods to the farmhouse’s back door, but the footprints allegedly never went back to the woods. He also spoke of odd creaks and curious footfalls in the attic. He even noted that a newspaper the family had never seen before showed up in the kitchen, and someone apparently tried to bust open the lock on the family’s tool shed.

Related: Was Prostitute’s 1932 Murder The Work Of A Vampire?

Even with all of those oddities, the region was shocked when the family and their housemaid were brutally murdered at home on the night of Friday, March 31. According to reports, police determined that Andreas, his wife Cazilia, his daughter Viktoria, and his granddaughter Cazilia were killed in the farm’s livestock barn. After that, they believed that his grandson Josef was murdered while he slept. They believed that the killer then went to the bedroom of the housemaid, Maria Baumgartner, and killed her as well. All were bludgeoned in the head, and the autopsy reports that researchers have unearthed suggest that the elder Cazilia and her daughter Viktoria showed signs of strangulation as well. Disturbingly, investigators know that the younger Cazilia was the last to die, and may have survived the initial attack. She was found with clumps of her own hair in her clenched fingers.

As if this weren’t enough, the killer reportedly did not immediately leave. Police initially suspected that the motive for the brutal murders might have been robbery, but that was dismissed as money was found still in the house. In addition, instead of ransacking the farm or killing the animals, neighbors told police that they saw smoke coming from the chimney in the house afterwards, and they could tell that someone had been feeding the Grubers’ cattle.

The murder weapon was determined to have been a mattock, which is a tool similar to a pickaxe. According to a farmhand who helped out during the harvests, Gruber had crafted the mattock himself, and it was stored in the tool shed. In addition, rumors abounded about the parentage of the youngest victim, 2-year-old Josef. The boy was believed to have been the result of an incestuous relationship between Andreas and his daughter, Viktoria, but no proof was ever found.

Over the years, police have reportedly interrogated at least 100 potential suspects. The most recent interrogation was reportedly in 1986. In 2007, students from the Fürstenfeldbruck Police Academy were asked to apply modern investigative methods to the case to see what they could possibly add. They determined that considering the time that had passed and some evidence that had either gone missing or had never been gathered to begin with, the case was probably never going to be solved.

Check out this Buzzfeed video about the murders:

Read more: (in German)
The Lineup
Atlas Obscura

<!– End of DoubleClick Floodlight Tag: Please do not remove —>

  • Meaningful

    CASE SOLVED: It was the neighbor! The neighbor was in love w/her, the daughter, probably hopes to marry her, then she gets pregnant by her own father and the neighbor realizes her pregnancy could ONLY be caused by the father, since it wasn’t him, the neighbor. He stews on this; then murders them all. Also, ONLY another ‘farmer’ would care so much about feeding/watering livestock! belonging to another – GUESS! who got the livestock, people, when this family was dead? THE ‘NEIGHBORS’. Shocking! that the ‘father’ NEVER went up to the attic to see what was causing the footsteps/noises, etc; knowing with his own EYES someone had walked up to his door and NEVER LEFT! HELLOOOOOO! Odd man, indeed.

    • kimbystephens

      That’s a completely believable theory. I think you’re onto something.

      • Meaningful

        Thanks, Kimby. It also occurred to me that this neighbor may have been rejected as her ‘suitor’? I.e. if the father ‘was’ having relations w/his own daughter, etc. then he certainly wouldn’t allow her to go to another so easily. Hence the RAGE from this neighbor

        • kimbystephens

          Definitely a possibility, actually, your theory makes the most sense to me. Unrealized love has historically been one the biggest contributors to rage killings…and murder this brutal certainly fits that category.

          • Meaningful

            lol! thanks for putting it much more succinctly than i did. I agree. I am a crime show buff, myself

          • kimbystephens

            lol…no problem! True crime really interests me too. I love trying to get into the heads of these people…from a distance. I’m quite the weenie.

          • Meaningful

            HA! thanks for the laugh. Regarding the weenie part. lol – me too

    • Michele Bridges Huffman

      Makes perfect sense.

    • MisterWednesday

      It’s been speculated that a neighbor is the culprit, but stating that the murder was a fellow farmer is a huge speculation. Maybe the culprit wanted to keep the farm animals quiet by feeding them? The animals would most likely make noise and attract unwanted attention.

      • Meaningful

        not getting any attention at home?

      • Meaningful

        Dumbest response. Ever. Someone not getting the love they NEED at home? Lol.

        • Jerzy

          This response is totally uncalled for. Because someone’s option differs slightly than yours ?? Being that’s your go to response, it might be you who is missing love & attention at home.

          • Meaningful

            It’s a COMMENT, dumbass. Don’t tell anyone only your lame opinion is the one that matters. You’re comment was dumb, ignorant, unintelligent. Look who’s LASHING out??? Lol!!

      • Rosehippi2000

        If anyone planned to stay a while, in a farming community where the towns lively hood depended on the local farmers, so they may not have lived in each others laps, but they watched out for one another back then. People were more connected than today face to face.
        it would have been noticed if the animals were being neglected. People would wonder a if they did not see smoke from the chimney, they all cooked on wood or coal stoves back then. Had routine changed, it would have brought the Locals to check. Got to remember 1922 barely had electricity, no modern day amenities, including indoor plumbing.

  • Meha Valdez

    Found this under disturbing family secrets….
    “21. My mom’s dad was a spy in WW2. He killed lots of people and lived off his lies. He once killed an entire German farming family and lived in their house for a little while till he could contact his people again. When the war ended. He faked his death to my great grandma and started a family in France and just abandoned them to come back to America to work for the precursor for the CIA.


    • Only me

      But the date was 1922, way before WW2.

  • Archean Epoch

    Here’s my amateur armchair theory, for what it’s worth. I don’t think it was the x-husband, because it doesn’t account for the bizarre behavior reported before the killings, or evidenced afterwards.

    I think it was someone who was a potential suitor for the widowed woman, whom the suitor knew as a neighbor, seen her at church, or dropping her kids off at school. He wanted to be with her and/or part of the family, except his desire was not met. She rejected him upon his advances, or more likely, he silently felt he wouldn’t be accepted by either her or her family. But his desire grew more desperate, until it became a bonafide fantasy. A compulsion.

    He begins to do what, in his mind, is the next best thing to being with her and part of the family – he surreptitiously stalks them. Not to intimidate, but to grow closer, a feeble but psychologically real substitution for actual acceptance. From time to time, he hides in the attic – the elderly patriarch does not do a detailed enough search of the attic, if indeed he was even in there at that moment. He gets as close as he can as often as he can, living with them and amongst them. At times he doesn’t feel bothered to cover the footprints or to remove his newspaper from their sight. Subtle but powerful gestures that he’s no longer wanting to hide. And why would he? He’s part of the family. Time passes and he comes to know what they do, his knowledge of them and their daily lives grow more intimate. His feeling of connection deepens, his fantasy and ideas of reference build to critical levels, and he becomes inescapably wedded to the dubious contention that he is part of that family.

    But he’s not delusional. At some point, the fantasy becomes strong enough that their being alive becomes an affront to him. He can plainly see that in contrast to his fantasy family, he is not accepted by the real family. Indeed they may not even know he’s there, and the effect of either contemplation turns to rage. He kills them in a violent, passionate torrent of hatred. And now with them out of the way, he is free to live his fantasy. He tends the living room fire, and keeps the home comfortable. He sleeps in their bed. He eats their food. He goes to the field and thoughtfully tends to the animals. He feeds them, gets down on his knees and milks the cows. He takes care of the family dog. He does everything a member of the family would. He’s truly part of them, now. Then after a few days, the romantic notion fostered by the fantasy starts to wear off – now he’s got the reality of half a dozen bodies rotting in the barn and he doesn’t want to get caught. He knows she goes to church and her children go to school, and that the unexplained cessation of this activity will soon arouse attention. He leaves the home, and soon after, people see the horrific fruit of his twisted mind.

  • Rosehippi2000

    Poor family.
    Poor maid.