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legends of america: the bloody benders
"Keeping mostly to themselves, the Benders appeared to simply be struggling homesteaders who worked hard to earn their living like the other area pioneers. When the Benders opened their store and inn in 1871, many travelers would stop for a meal or supplies. However, some of those men, who frequently carried large sums of cash with the intention of settling, buying stock, or purchasing a claim; began to go missing..."
'the bloody benders' set to become tv series
"The gruesome true story of 'America's first family of serial killers' is set to be explored in a new TV series. Hell's Half-Acre by British historian Susan Jonusas explores the crimes of the Benders... Film rights to the non-fiction book, due out in March 2022, have already been snapped up by London-based production house New Regency..."
all that's interesting: the bloody benders
"As people continued disappearing after visiting the Benders’ home, the surrounding communities began to grow suspicious. After one family went missing in the area, their friend, Dr. William York, came to the area to ask if anyone had seen them. After Dr. York himself went missing, his brother, a Colonel in the military, came to the Benders’ inn asking about his brother.
That’s when they discovered the trap door to the basement, which was covered in bloodstains. After digging around the property, the investigators found 11 bodies, all murdered by the Bloody Benders. A manhunt was immediately launched for the murderers."
a new owner is looking for answers about the benders
“I bought it because I love history and would like to find out where (the killings) happened,” said Bob Miller, a Wells Fargo financial adviser from Independence, Kansas, who now owns the parcel where the Bender cabin is believed to have stood.
The whole thing is just so bizarre, and one of America’s first documented mass murders...If we could find some stuff,” Miller said, “some bones or maybe teeth, that would allow for DNA matching with living relatives.”
murderpedia: the benders
The alleged family consisted of John Bender, his wife Kate, son John Jr., and daughter Kate. They killed at least 11 travelers from 1872-1873 in Labette County, Kansas, by hitting them with a hammer and/or cutting their throats.
"Some claimed that a small band of riders did catch up with the bloodthirsty family and killed them. Others thought that the Benders had managed to escape..."
the bloody benders: america's first family of serial killers
"As the story of the Benders spread across the country in the years following the murder spree, thousands of tourists and souvenir hunters flocked to the Bender’s former homestead, looting the property down to the bricks lining the cellar... Hammers allegedly from the home have been displayed at the Cherryvale Museum, while a stained knife now belongs to the Kansas Historical Society."
"Most of all, the story of the Bloody Benders has endured because of its their ability to inspire fictional accounts—including one by famous prairie writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, in her annotated autobiography, Pioneer Girl. But while there is some evidence that the Ingalls family may have encountered victim George Longcor, the Ingalls family had already left Kansas for Wisconsin by the time the Benders moved to the area. Yet she’s far from the only writer hoping to cash in on the crimes committed by this family; an episode of Supernatural featured a family of serial killers named the Benders, while two of the main characters in the video game Red Dead Redemption are modeled after John Jr. and Kate Bender."
ed gein (wikipedia)
While the set up of the Bender Inn from our story is accurate, the description of most of contents in the basement came from the horrific discoveries on serial killer Ed Gein's property. Gein famously created his own masks from human skin, inspiring Leatherface's unforgettable look in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
"On Nov. 16, 1957, Plainfield hardware store owner Bernice Worden disappeared. Her son, Deputy Sheriff Frank Worden, entered the store around 5:00 p.m. to find the store's cash register open and blood stains on the floor.
Worden told investigators that on the evening before his mother's disappearance, Gein had been in the store, and that he was to have returned the next morning for a gallon of antifreeze. A sales slip for a gallon of antifreeze was the last receipt written by Worden on the morning she disappeared.
That evening, Gein was arrested at a grocery store, and the Sheriff's Department searched his farm. They found the decapitated body of Worden in a shed, hung upside down by her legs with a crossbar at her ankles and ropes at her wrists. The torso was "dressed out like a deer".
Searching the house, the authorities found whole human bones and fragments, a wastebasket and chair coverings made of human skin, skulls on his bedposts, bowls made from skulls, a corset made from a female torso, leggings made from human skin, masks made from the skin of female heads, a belt made of nipples, a pair of lips on a drawstring, a lampshade made from a human face, and more.
These artifacts were photographed at the state crime laboratory and then "decently disposed of."
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