3. The Hinterkaifeck Murders
One of the more shocking assertions in The Man from the Train is the idea that the infamous American killer may have somehow moved to Germany and carried out that country’s most infamous ax murder in 1922. On March 31, 1922, six members of the Gruber family were killed at their Bavarian farm by some unknown intruder.
The horrific crime was not discovered until April 4, when neighbors finally decided to check in on the family after they had not been seen in the area for several days. Inside of the Grubers’ barn, the investigation party, which was led by a man named Lorenz Schlittenbauer (later a prime suspect in the case), found the bodies of the Gruber family amid some hay. Dead alongside the Grubers was their maid, Maria Baumgartner, who had been killed on her first day as the family’s maid.
While the James authors are not 100-percent convinced that the Man from the Train carried out these murders, they do believe that he should be taken seriously as a suspect. After all, the Grubers had been murdered with an ax (in this case a pickax), all had been beaten with the blunt side of the ax, and several of the bodies had been covered after death. (This had occurred at other Man from the Train crime scenes.) Another fact that possibly links these murders to the Man from the Train is that Bavarian investigators found cash scattered all over the Gruber household.
However, there is evidence that the Man from the Train did not kill the Grubers. First of all, the previous maid employed by the Grubers felt that the house was haunted. This may indicate that someone was researching the Grubers prior to the murders. The Man from the Train was known to do this during his early crimes but stopped after 1908. The Man from the Train also preferred using logging axes, not pickaxes, which are most commonly used by miners. Finally, the killer of the Gruber family stayed at their farm for several days after the crime. There is no evidence that the Man from the Train ever did this.