Missing people, serial killers, and a psychic in Kansas. Sounds like a modern reality show on cable, right? But it’s not. This family of criminals, the Benders, committed their crimes in the 1870s.
Following the Civil War, the Bender family settled on 160 acres of land located adjacent the Great Osage Trail, which was then the only open road for traveling further west. They built a cabin about 17 miles out of the county seat of Independence.
They began using their place as a general store using a canvas wagon cover to separate their living quarters from the public quarters. Travelers stopped for meals and even spent the night.
Daughter Kate was a self-proclaimed healer and psychic who conducted séances and gave lectures on spiritualism. Her popularity brought visitors to the Benders’ inn.
In May 1871, the body of a man was found with a crushed skull and cut throat. In 1872, two more men were found with the same types of injuries. By 1873, reports of missing people who had passed through the area had grown to the point that travelers began to avoid the trail. Turns out the Benders were bashing wealthy travelers over the head while they stayed at the inn.
After their crimes came to light, the Benders disappeared. Strange mounds were discovered on their property. By the time the posse finished digging, more than two dozen bodies were discovered. It’s not known how many more were never found. Neither were the Benders.
If you want to know more, here are some links where you can read more about the clan:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2191435/Little-Slaughterhouse-On-The-Prairie-The-ghoulish-tale-family-serial-killers-known-Bloody-Benders.html (this link is to the Daily Mail, a gossip rag, so don’t be offended by the side bars, please.)