The Bloody Benders: American Serial Killers spotlights the notorious Bender family who terrorised travellers during the Old West.
The Bender family operated out of Labette County, Kansas, between the years of 1871 and 1873. They operated a general store and traveller stop out of their cabin and grew vegetables and fruit nearby.
However, they also had some extra-curricular activity in the shape of murdering some of their guests and customers! The family consisted of dad John Bender, mother, Elvira Bender plus their son John, Jr. and daughter, Kate.
Kate was unusual and proclaimed herself a psychic, promoted the idea of free love and even held seances. This brought in people to the family’s business from all around.
In 1871 a man was found with his skull smashed in and his throat cut and in the spring of the next year two more men were found with similar wounds. More and more people started to go missing, so much so that the route began to be avoided by wary travellers.
The Benders were finally caught when they killed George Newton Longcor and his young daughter. When he went missing a former neighbour of his went looking for him and their trail eventually led him to the Bender’s place.
However, he himself then went missing but had family in prominent positions who launched a large search with over 50 men. They eventually made it to the Bender’s tavern and after some questioning became suspicious due to the family’s strange behaviour. Some of the men wanted to hang them right away but it was decided to gather more evidence. Overnight the family went missing and were never seen again…
Over the next few days various excavations were made in the ground and many bodies were found. Most had similar injuries and it is thought the victim’s were seated at the head of the table near a trap door. Kate would distract them whilst the father or son came up behind them and struck them on the head with a hammer.
Kate or her mother would then slit their throats and their bodies would be dumped into the cellar via the door and searched for loot.
American Serial Killers airs on Fridays at 8:00 P.M. on Investigation Discovery.