did Gabriel rise from the dead?

In March 1922, six inhabitants of a remote farmhouse in Germany were murdered by pickax. The case was discussed here

Hinterkaifeck found here

It was ascertained that all victims were dead for about 4 days when they were found. That meant the killer(s) had stayed on the farm for several days and fed the animals (cows, swine, and a dog) and milked the cows.

The six victims were: the farmer Andreas Gruber (63) and his wife Cäzilia (72); their widowed daughter Viktoria Gabriel (35) and her two children Cäzilia (7) and Josef (2); as well as the unfortunate maid Maria Baumgartner who arrived at the farm only the night before the murders.

image found here

Andreas Gruber had told neighbours that he found footsteps in the snow which led from the woods to the farm but not back out again. One neighbour offered him a revolver, but he declined it. He also talked 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, but none of this was reported to the police.

image found here

Andreas Gruber had a bad reputation. He was greedy and avaricious and it was well known that he had an incestuous relationship with his widowed daughter Viktoria Gabriel. Both Viktoria and her father had spent time in prison for incest.

Andreas Gruber, his wife Caecilia, Viktoria and little Caecilia were lured one by one into the stable and killed with a hoe or pickax. Maria was found killed in her room, little Joseph was dead in his bassinet.

from an article on post mortem babies found here

In the days following the murder several people came to the farm for professional reasons. They executed their orders and left without thinking much about no one being around. The postman delivered mail and newspapers, leaving it on the windowsill after no one answered his knock. A mechanic came and repaired a motor in the barn.

postman found here

On April 4 three neighbours discovered the bodies. By the time police arrived dozens of onlookers were on the farm. The neighbours had fed the animals, moved the bodies (they were hidden under straw and an old door, when discovered) and one of them allegedly even had a snack in the kitchen.

German kitchen (sober yet slightly kitschig) found here

On April 5 the autopsies were performed in the barn. A doctor removed the heads from the bodies and sent them to psychics in Nuremberg. The police made immense efforts to investigate the crime though they were overloaded with work because of numerous political murders committed by the early Nazis and the Communists at this time. Over 100 suspects and witnesses were questioned, but there were also a few omissions. The mechanic who came to repair the motor was not questioned until 10 years after the crime. Investigations went on until 1986, when the last questioning took place. Then in 1999 an old woman came forward with a story told to her by her former landlord around 1935, which could offer a clue to what happened.

image of Nuremberg rally found here

There were lots of rumours about the case which resulted in 3 main theories:

1. The murders of Hinterkaifeck were just another case of political murder committed by the early Nazis or another party from the far right spectrum. These kind of murders were called “Fememorde” to distinguish them from other political murders. “Fememord” meant a political organisation condemned and killed one of its members for treason or embezzlement. Hinterkaifeck being quite a lonely place would have been ideal for an arsenal or as a hiding place. And the few things known about Andreas Gruber make it easy to believe that he was a man capable of treason or other crimes (especially if some monetary advantage could be made of it) and that he shared the political opinions of the Nazis.

Spock as Nazi found here

2. The second theory concentrates on the fate of Karl Gabriel, the husband of Viktoria who was allegedly killed in action in 1914. His body was never found and there were rumours that he wasn’t dead at all but took a new identity and came back to kill the whole family as revenge for the incestuous relationship between his wife and his father in law. Over the years several men were questioned, because they were suspected to be Karl Gabriel. After the Second World War some men who were in Russian captivity claimed that they recognised a communist commissar as Karl Gabriel. Even the old woman’s story from 1999 is a new version of the Karl Gabriel story. The landlord allegedly told her that he travelled back to the front with Karl Gabriel after a brief stint with their families. Karl told his companion furiously “When I came home I found my wife pregnant although I wasn’t there for months. I would like to kill the whole family!” The landlord claimed Karl was still alive in 1918 and told him how he faked his own death.

Karl Lagerfeld teddy bear found here

3. A suspect who emerged quite early in the investigation was a neighbour identified as L.S. He was the official father of little Joseph, and the man who offered a revolver to Andreas Gruber. He was also among the neighbours who discovered the bodies, fed the animals and removed the corpses. And he was the one who is said to have sat down in the kitchen for a snack with the bodies of Maria and little Joseph in the next room. For all those reasons he was suspected early on. But allegedly the mayor told the investigators that L.S. was an honest man with a very good reputation and not capable of such a hideous crime and so police went on to look for a more appropriate suspect.

In 2007 the students of the Polizeifachhochschule (Police Academy) in Fürstenfeldbruck were given the task of investigating the case once more with modern techniques of criminal investigation. Their final report has been kept secret.

Published in: on May 1, 2011 at 8:38 am  Comments (45)  
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45 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The snack isn’t much of a surprise, Germans can eat under any circumstances, especially if there is good bread and a bit of sausage lying around.
    But why on earth were the heads removed???

    • Understandable, I like a good bit of sausage too

  2. More gruesome murders! Yay!

    I think the 2-year-old did it and then faked his own death. If it had been anyone else, they would have been dead by the time the 2007 investigation took place, so there would have been no reason to keep it secret.

    • By golly, I think you’re right

  3. “The final report has been kept secret” …

    Dear God, why???? Have these people no decency?

    Laura’s explanation sounds like a good one so I’m going with that.

    Thanks for the interesting read as always. I followed the post mortem photo link and that was a portal into a whole other world. I had no idea that people collected these photos.

    • Fascinating aren’t they?

  4. Sending severed heads to psychics? I guess the German police at the time simply refused to accept the old “dead men tell no tales” cliché .

    • The German police refused to accept a lot of things

      • Were they too cheap to send the entire body?? Or hell, bring the psychics to them.

  5. Man’s gotta eat… what’s the big deal?

    • I think it was the size of the spread…..

  6. Amazing how tradespeople come and go without noticing anything amiss. I wouldn’t be surprised if the outside had been repainted, the roof rethatched and the cesspit emptied without anybody suspecting a thing.

    • That was the old days. The tradesmen who come to the Gimcrack notify me if my tyres are flat or my stocking seams aren’t straight

  7. Those Grubers…a dodgy lot. One of the dodgiest was Oberleutnant Hubert Gruber, aide-de-camp to General von Klinkerhoffen in Nouvion, and responsible for the forged Van Klomp painting “The fallen Madonna with the big boobies”.

    • Was Gruber the guy that cuckolded the general too?

  8. Obviously the neighbours did it. Accidentally finding the bodies in the barn under straw!! Probably a dispute about a leylandii hedge ……..

  9. Secret?! No, they can’t do that, can they?! Inquiring minds want to know! 🙂

    • Maybe we could start a petition

    • If they weren’t going to tell us why bother telling us they think they figured it out!? I’m starting to think they didn’t solve it….

  10. Thanks Nursie, I had never heard of this murder before The Germans now how to do gruesome (thinks Peter Kurtens and Fritz Haarman)

  11. I have never heard of using psychics to read heads- how wonderful – I will have to research this one
    again another great post.

  12. I’m more interested in why the results are secret more than who the murderer was. Though I purpose that might have something to do with it.

    • Bugger. Predictive text. I don’t ‘purpose’, I ‘suppose’.

  13. That is a fascinating read! Thanks Nursie.

  14. If only Truman Capote had also written a book about these murders…bodies in farmhouses, it’s a creepy genre.

  15. Great mystery! Super creepy. Guess this was in the days before CSI because now everyone knows not to disturb a crime scene, and not to snack, (or if you must snack, not to leave crumbs).

  16. I love these who done its. I also love to have them solved as well. Any way we get our hands on the students report. xx

  17. Fascinating. I do like reading tales like this. But now I have to know the end! Release the report!!

  18. So much for German efficiency!

    The King

  19. Strange case. And stranger why they would keep the results of the new report secret 80 years after the fact.

  20. I favour theory number two. The later investigation discovered Karl Gabriel went on to become someone famous whose reputation they preferred to leave unblemished.

    • Now that’s a good theory…..

  21. Wow! This reads like several crime novels i’ve read.

  22. How did I miss the Nazi episode of Star Trek?

  23. Lizzie Borden did it

  24. Hollyweird couldn’t come up with a more intriguing murder mystery. I don’t know how you find these great storys, but I’m pleased you do.


  25. I love these posts!

    I also love how you’re always teaching me new words. Like avaricious.

  26. oooh I love a good mystery

  27. I always enjoy the photos that you post.

  28. Leonard Nimoy played a Nazi? Guess he wasn’t typecast.

  29. Why keep it a secret? How odd but fascinating.

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