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The Bender family home was a one-room house that was divided in half by a curtain. According to the Pittsburgh Dispatch, the daughter of one of the Benders' victims, Mrs. Frances E. McCann, had reported the pair to authorities in early October after tracking them down. [5], Three days after the township meeting, Billy Tole was driving cattle past the Bender property when he noticed that the inn was abandoned and the farm animals were unfed. All had been involved in disposing of the victims' stolen goods with Mit Cherry, a member of the vigilance committee, implicated for forging a letter from one of the victims, informing the man's wife that he had arrived safely at his destination in Illinois. Many innocent men under suspicion were also run out of the county by these committees.[5]. This is the story of the Bloody Benders, America’s first family of serial killers. Dr. York had two brothers: Colonel Ed York living in Fort Scott, and Alexander M. York, a member of the Kansas State Senate from Independence who, in November 1872, had been instrumental in exposing U.S. [7], A Kansas newspaper reported that the crowd was so incensed after finding the bodies that a friend of the Benders named Brockman, who was among the onlookers, was hanged from a beam in the inn until unconscious, revived and interrogated as to what he knew, then hanged again. "[7], Word of the murders spread quickly, and more than three thousand people, including reporters from as far away as New York City and Chicago, visited the site. From those who knew them and have written about them, we gather the following: 7. It was speculated that she had been strangled or buried alive. [5], Detectives following wagon tracks discovered the Benders' wagon, abandoned with a starving team of horses with one of the mares lame, just outside the city limits of Thayer, 12 mi (19 km) north of the inn. As a family of psychopaths, the Bloody Benders often killed their victims simply for the sheer thrill of it, but they also profited well from the property they got from guests. It was in the nearby orchard field that the victims were found buried. ISBN 978-1-5368-9341-0. A message requesting positive identification was sent to Cherryvale, but the suspect severed his foot to escape his leg irons and bled to death. Their attorney also produced a marriage certificate indicating that Mrs. Davis had been married in Michigan in 1872, the time when several of the murders were committed. Mrs. Monroe now admitted she had married a Mr. Shearer in 1872 and claimed she had previously denied it, as she did not want the court to know that her name was Shearer at that time and that she had a conviction for manslaughter. [3] Also in 1884, an elderly man matching Pa Bender's description was arrested in Montana for a murder committed near Salmon, Idaho, where the victim had been killed by a hammer blow to the head. [1][2][3] Despite York's strong suspicions regarding the Benders since his visit several weeks earlier, no one had watched them, and it was not noticed for several days that they had fled. Many stories say that one vigilante group actually caught the Benders and shot all of them but Kate, whom they burned alive. The stone slab floor was broken up with sledgehammers but no bodies were found, and it was determined that the smell was from blood that had soaked into the soil. The Bloody Benders Historic Marker. The ghastly discovery of eight bodies, including the corpse of a little girl, plus the bloody, stench-filled cellar, told the grim tale. Once Kansas declared itself with the Union and the Civil War began to rage, the bloody battles continued. The group is believed to be one of the first serial killer families in America. Try this feature for free with a MyRouteYou Plus trial subscription. The Bloody Benders were a family of serial killers who owned an inn and small general store in Labette County of southeastern Kansas from 1871 to 1873. [1][11][12][13][14][15][16], By including the recovered body parts not matched to the bodies found, the finds are speculated to represent the remains of more than 20 victims. [2], Testimony from people who had stayed at the Benders' inn and had managed to escape before they could be killed appeared to support the presumed execution method of the Benders. 12) December 1872: Abigail Roberts. "[4], In May 1871, the body of a man named Jones, who had his skull crushed and his throat cut, was discovered in Drum Creek. John was prone to laughing aimlessly, which led many to consider him a "half-wit". In this episode, we head to Kansas and explore the Wichita Troll, the Sallie House, and the Bloody Benders. She mentioned stopping at the inn, as well as recounting the rumors of the murders spreading through their community. Once in the cellar, the body would be stripped and later buried somewhere on the property, often in the orchard. There’s a storm gate in Wichita, Kansas that has no plaque or indication, only a troll sculpture that waits for the unaware – it is the Wichita Troll. Senator Samuel C. Pomeroy's bribery of state legislators in his bid for re-election. It covers the on-going investigation into the Bloody Benders. Digging resumed the following morning; another eight bodies were found in seven of the nine suspected graves, while one was found in the well, along with a number of body parts. One might have been Jack Bogart, whose horse was purchased from a friend of the Benders after he went missing in 1872. Elvira and Kate Bender also planted a 2-acre (0.81 ha) vegetable garden and apple orchard north of the cabin.[1][2][3]. Some of the Benders' neighbors claimed that John and Kate were not brother and sister, but actually husband and wife. 2-3) February 1872: Two unidentified men found on the prairie in February 1872 with crushed skulls and throats cut. $38 (2021: $811) and a wagon with a team of horses missing. Approximately 152 acres of land that once belonged to the "Bloody Benders". In her lectures she publicly declared that murder might be a dictation for good; that in what the world might deem villainy, her soul might read bravery, nobility, and humanity. • 1) May 1871: Mr. Jones. They were released after being found not guilty, but were then immediately re-arrested for the Bender murders. In total, 12 men "of bad repute in general" would be arrested, including Brockman. The St. Joseph Weekly Gazette (St. Joseph, Missouri). State Senator Alexander York offered a $1,000 ($21,342 as of 2021) reward for the Bender family's arrest. However, once the property was searched, the townspeople discovered a far grislier truth: The family had gruesomely murdered at least 11 people and buried their bodies throughout the land. Season 1, episode 15 (2006) of the TV series, The "Hitchcock's Birds, Hope Diamond, Phineas Gang" episode of the Travel Channel's show, The Bender Family is mentioned in episode 94 of the podcast. According to the 1870 census, George and his wife, Mary Jane, were neighbors of. This page was last edited on 7 January 2021, at 03:06. The Bloody Benders had a remote little inn not far from the Kansas homestead of Laura Ingalls Wilder.. Wilder mentions two brushes with the Benders, who are sometimes referred to as America’s first serial killers. No documentation or definitive proof of their relationships to one another, or where they were born, has ever been found. Buried in the apple orchard. After the gruesome murders, it's believed that the Benders had fled the area and were never found, according to the KHS. It was confirmed that in Thayer the family had bought tickets on the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railroad for Humboldt. [5][6], Around the same time, neighboring communities began to make accusations that the Osage community was responsible for the disappearances, and a meeting was arranged by the Osage township in the Harmony Grove schoolhouse. Tole reported the fact to the township trustee, but because of inclement weather, several days lapsed before the abandonment could be investigated. On the high prairie by the nearby Mounds which bear the name, the Bender family ~ John, his wife , son, and daughter Kate ~ in 1871 built a small house. The victim's throat was cut by one of the women to ensure death. Relocating to Independence from, 7) December 1872: Johnny Boyle. Mrs. McCann's story came from dreams that she had about her father's murder, which she discussed with Sarah Eliza. Her face was a fit picture of the midnight hag that wove the spell murderous ambition about the soul of Macbeth." "Kate proclaimed herself responsible to no one save herself." The body was then dropped through the trap door. A self-proclaimed healer and psychic, she distributed flyers advertising her supernatural powers and her ability to cure illnesses. Although the elder Benders kept to themselves, Kate and her brother regularly attended Sunday school in nearby Harmony Grove. There was a trap door that led to a stone cellar below. Born July 30, 1848," "John Gebhardt came to America on July 1 18? Locals began scouring the area after reports of people who had gone missing in their community began to surface. She also conducted séances and gave lectures on spiritualism, for which she gained notoriety for advocating free love. Several groups of vigilantes were formed to search for the Benders. [2], Two men who had traveled to the inn to experience Kate Bender's psychic powers stayed on for dinner but had refused to sit at the table next to the cloth, instead preferring to eat their meal at the main shop counter. "Prior to their ownership, which took place in the 1950s, there could have been an excavation that I'm not aware of.". In 1992, Fern Morrow Wood, a Cherryvale teacher, wrote The Benders, Keepers of the Devil's Inn. RouteYou » Places of interest » Bloody Benders » Overview of all cycle routes Positive Pest | Race cycle route | 2437 mi | EN. While Bender mythology holds that John Jr. and Kate were siblings, contemporary newspapers reported that several of the Benders' neighbors had stated that they claimed to be married, possibly a common law marriage. Elvira Bender, who also allegedly spoke very little English, was 55 years of age and was so unfriendly that her neighbors took to calling her a "she-devil". of murdering several husbands, but none of these rumors were ever proven. In October 1870, five families of spiritualists homesteaded in and around the township of Osage in northwestern Labette County, approximately 7 mi (11 km) northeast of where Cherryvale would be established seven months later. The Bloody Benders were a family of serial killers who lived and operated in Labette County, Kansas, from May 1871 to December 1872. 6 The Bloody Benders’ House. With the exception of McKenzie and York,[17] who were buried in Independence; the Longcors, who were buried in Montgomery County; and McCrotty, who was buried in Parsons, Kansas, none of the other bodies were claimed, and they were reburied at the base of a small hill 1 mile (1.6 km) southeast of the Benders' orchard, one of several at the location now known as "The Benders Mounds". [1][2] A knife with a four-inch tapered blade was reportedly found hidden in a mantel clock in the Bender house by Colonel York. In 1937 she gave a speech at a book fair, which was later transcribed and printed in the September 1978 Saturday Evening Post and in the 1988 book A Little House Sampler. 13-15) December 1872: Various body parts. [18], A historical marker describing the Benders’ crimes is located in the rest area at the junction of U.S. Route 400 and U.S. Route 169 north of Cherryvale. In the winter of 1872, George Newton Longcor and his infant daughter, Mary Ann, left Independence, Kansas, to resettle in Iowa and were never seen again. The women's identities were later confirmed by two Osage township witnesses from a tintype photograph. In the front half of the house, the family ran an inn and store, while the back half was the family living area. Often, two women traveling together were accused of being Kate Bender and her mother.[10]. [2] Ma and Pa Bender did not leave the train at Humboldt but instead continued north to Kansas City, where it is believed they purchased tickets for St. Louis, Missouri.[1]. The former property of the "Bloody Benders" is up for sale. In the 19th century, Kansas was a bloody place, especially before the Civil War as “Free-Soilers ” and slavery advocates “duked” it out for control of the new territory. In Fargo (Season 4, Episode 9), outside the entrance to The Barton Arms, a Kansas Historical Marker plaque for “The Mellon Mounds” recounts the story of the Mellon family, who lured unsuspecting travelers into their home, killed them with a hammer, and buried them out back. It was suspected that the Benders sat travelers near the curtain and used some sort of hammer to hit them in the back of the head, before they dropped their victim through the trap door and into the cellar below. In February 1872, the bodies of two men were found who had the same injuries as Jones. Elvira allegedly could not understand English, while the younger Benders denied the claim. When he did speak it, it was so guttural that it was usually unintelligible. [18], The Ingalls family, made famous in the books and television series Little House on the Prairie, lived near Independence, and Laura Ingalls Wilder mentioned the Bender family in her writing and speeches. 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