In early spring 1922, on a quiet German farm, a weird series of events climaxed in a terrifying and unsolved mass murder. The name for the lonely farmstead was Hinterkaifeck, now synonymous with the awful events that transpired there.
The farm was inhabited by a farmer named Andreas Gruber, his wife, their adult daughter (Viktoria) and two grandchildren, as well as a middle-aged maid. All six were found April 4, 1922, beaten to death with a pickaxe.
In the weeks and days leading up to the assaults, there were numerous puzzling events. The previous maid scurried off, convinced that the place was haunted. Gruber told his neighbors that he'd spotted unexplained footprints in the snow that led from the woods to the barn, but no second set of prints leading back to the forest.
Days before the murders, the family apparently related to neighbors that their house keys had been stolen and that there were strange noises in the attic. And they found a newspaper on the grounds that none of them had purchased.
On March 31, all six of the family members were killed. Their bodies were found in the barn. The eldest granddaughter, age 7, apparently survived the initial attack. She lay next to the bodies of her loved ones, pulling out plugs of her hair until she finally passed away.
Just before the bodies were discovered, neighbors witnessed smoke billowing from the chimney. Upon entering the house, they found that someone had been eating food and caring for the livestock. Just as weirdly, a stash of easily accessible cash was left untouched.
Autopsies were performed, but forensic investigations of the time were still primitive. Speculation abounded about an incestuous relationship between Andreas and Viktoria that may have served as fuel for some sort of crime of passion, but those avenues of explanation proved inconclusive. As recently as 1986, police conducted interviews regarding the atrocities, but no one was ever tried or even arrested for the gruesome killings.