Season 2, Episode 3: “Hinterkaifeck: Ghosts in the Attic”
Directed by Christoph Schrewe
Written by Jose Molina
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Elizabeth Bathory: Mirror, Mirror” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Prague Clock: The Curse of Orloj” – click here
This episode is based on the Hinterkaifeck murders, which occurred on the evening of March 31st, 1922.
We begin on April 3rd at the Hinterkaifeck farm, situated between Ingolstadt and Schrobenhausen in Bavaria. An officer arrives knocking at the door. Receiving no answer, he tries opening it but the place is locked. Mail is piling up outside. Inside, an unseen figure lurks, and with him are the bodies of the people he murdered with a mattock.
Jump to six hours later. Inspector Georg Reingruber (Thomas Kretschmann) meets Officer Johann Anneser (Vladimir Burlakov), ready to look over the newly discovered crime scene. The Inspector from Munich hears of “ghost stories” and a maid who quit because of “footsteps in the attic.” He’s only interested in the human aspects of the case, as grisly as they are to behold. Officer Anneser believes the culprit was “like a ghost” in the attic, waiting for his time to strike.
Four days earlier, Andreas Gruber (Jürgen Prochnow) was sitting around with his widowed daughter Viktoria Gabriel (Susanne Wuest), when one of her children, Cilly, woke screaming about a ghost in her closet. Her mother went to check on her. From nearby, the unseen figure watched them. The next day, Andreas was working outside and noticed the barn door open slightly. And again, the unseen figure watched from his hiding place. There were many signs of something not quite right on the farm, yet nothing prompted anybody to look too closely. Andreas blamed his grandchild for taking a set of his keys, not believing her when she blamed the ghost. There were real troubles around the farm, too. Such as Andreas and his temper, as well as an unsettling attitude towards his daughter.
On that day – March 31st – Maria Baumgartner (Karoline Eichhorn) arrived to begin working as the new maid on the farm. Viktoria shows the woman around the property, from the house to the barn. The maid hears about ghosts from little Cilly. She also notices footsteps in the snow off by the woods.
The family pass off the situation with their old housekeeper. Cilly insists the ghosts are real. Grandma Cazilia (Hana Frejková) doesn’t believe in any of it, just like her stern husband. The new maid tries to quell the child’s fears. Then the footprints come up. Andreas mentions he sees them, leading to the stables and the barn and even the house. He believes they’re the footprints of his neighbour, Lorenz Schlittenbauer (Merlin Leonhardt), and starts insinuating his daughter’s been sleeping around with men after dark. Later, once the old man leaves his mattock in the chopping stump outside it’s taken by the unseen figure, who heads for the house.
Cilly hears the ghost at the barn again in the night, so her mother admits to believing in ghosts. Viktoria tells her about memories of the girl’s father. Mostly, she uses the conversation to give her daughter comfort and strength, trying to tell her ghosts are a figment of her imagination. Except the one the girl’s hearing is all too real. She goes with her mother out to take one of the cows back into the barn, after it turns up loose in the yard. Her mother insists the ghost isn’t real, but Cilly thinks he’s inside. When mom tries proving her point, she leads them into getting murdered.
At the same time, Andreas thinks he hears noise. He sees his daughter’s not in her bed and neither is his granddaughter. He heads outside following footsteps to the barn. Before he gets there he’s given the mattock to his neck, dragged towards the barn while bleeding into the snow. The killer finishes him off with the mattock right in one eye. Cazilia’s taken down only moments later in similarly brutal fashion, and the corpses are dragged into the barn, piled together.
“My father told me that mystery makes dragons on the edges of maps”
The murderer worked his way into the house, where Maria was reading in her bed, unaware of the carnage. He put the mattock into her skull, as well. When she was dead the killer turned his attention to baby Josef in his pram. Not a single person survived the massacre.
A week later, the crime was being pored over by investigators. Inspector Reingruber and Officer Anneser, though butting heads, worked together. At the farm, the scene was hysterical, between the crowds from town gathered and the neighbour, Schlittenbauer, looking for his son— seems he fathered baby Josef. Police struggled to find any evidence that would provide them with a lead.
Drawing on real parts of the investigation, involving sightings of a man with a moustache, we see the suspicion turn to Viktoria’s husband, Karl Gabriel (Daniel Kamen), possibly making it back from war to find kids he didn’t father. The creepy vibes Andreas gave off earlier were fact amongst the village: he carried on a forceful incestuous relationship with “a daughter who hated him.” Karl was reported to have died during 1914 in the First World War, though his body was never found. He was but one of many suspects. Even the old maid was considered, and Schlittenbauer, certainly. In their wake, the family left a messy, tragic trail of “incest, lawsuits, [and] abuse” along with a “mountain of suspects.” On top of it all, the mystery remained, so the area was left wondering if soon one of them might be next to die.
To this day, the Hinterkaifeck murders remain unsolved, despite the many suspects. A chilling mystery that surely haunted all those involved. Supposedly in 2007, students at the Polizeifachhochschule (Police Academy) in Fürstenfeldbruck solved the case. They’ve not released the information out of respect for any living relatives. A.K.A a whole lot of bullshit.
“Prague Clock: The Curse of Orloj” is next.