Saturday, 8 August 2015

The Bender Family

    Murderous families are peppered throughout history with various reasons for their rampages.  The Barkers were gangsters, as they ran amok through the American mid-west in the 1930`s.  Scotland boasted probably the most notorious; Sawney Bean and his brood, who lived in caves, and killed and cannibalised any unfortunates that they came upon.  They existed in the 1600`s and were all wiped out by the military when they were discovered.  Labette County in Southeast Kansas had the Benders.  A family of four who set up home there in 1870.  They consisted of  John Bender aged around 60, his wife (name unknown) was about ten years younger, John Bender Junior, 27, and a woman named Kate, thought to have been aged around 24.  Young John was thought to have been Mrs Bender`s son through an earlier marriage.  Kate passed herself off as a medium that could contact the deceased and also to be a physician of sorts, that could cure people of deafness, blindness and other ailments.  The family home was a shack was situated near a couple of major routes for travellers.

   They set up their home as a stopping off spot for travellers, offering food, drink and even a bed for the night.  Sometimes Kate occupied it with a gentleman.  But one day, a man disappeared and his brother traced his movements, and came upon the Bender residence.  He came back some weeks later with a posse but the Benders convinced them they knew nothing.  Later, the man returned to the shack to find the Benders gone.  Then he spotted what looked like graves.  With help brought, he uncovered eleven bodies, including that of his brother.  What was thought to have happened is that the victim sat with his/her backs to a curtain, whilst being spoken to by Kate.  Then one of the men would strike the victim over the head with a large hammer, drag them into the curtained off part, steal whatever they had in possessions, strip the bodies, throw them through a trap door then later bury them outside.  If they were not dead through the blow, then their throats were cut.  A posse was set up to search the neighbouring Oklahoma territories, and it was said that they captured the Benders, gave them summary justice and divided up the monies they had on them, regarding it as a form of reward.  Yet, not everybody believed they had been caught and killed.  Search parties, for years still scoured the territories for proof of their demise but none was found.  In 1889, two women were brought from Detroit, with the claim that they were Mrs Bender & Kate, but nothing was ever proven.