Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kate & Katie Bender, Mother & Daughter Serial Killers - 1873

FULL TEXT: Dr. William York, brother of Senator York, of Kansas, disappeared on the 8th of last March, and there has been a continued anxious search for him since that time. A few days since, as the public has been advised by telegraphic dispatches, his body was found buried on a farm about six miles north of Cherry Vale, by York, a brother of the deceased. The remains of the murdered man, for it is evident that he had been murdered, were thrown into a hole a foot deep and a foot and a half wide, face downward. The grave was in a plowed field, adjoining the house formerly occupied by Bender. The particulars of the discovery are described as follows in a correspondence of the Lawrence Evening Standard: “The farm on which the body was found is about six miles north of Cherry Vale. It is a railway claim settled on about two years ago by a family by the name of Bender, consisting of an old man named Bender, consisting his son, wife and daughter. Both are understood to have children from a former marriage. Upon examination the head was found badly broken, with an indenture on the back part of the skull, and both temples smashed. One eye had been bursted out by the force of the blow, and the face had been cut. A shoe-hummer had been found in the house which fitted the indenture on the back of the head. It in supposed that he was stricken from behind, and then the temples broken by the hammer. The grave was about 200 yards from the house, and the main plowed furrow ran crosswise from it. The house is to be moved off its foundation to-day, and it is supposed, from the affluvia arising from underneath it, that another body or bodies are buried. The clothing had been stripped from the body, excepting a woolen undershirt. It had not become so badly decomposed but that it was easy to identify it. The hair, face, and whiskers were easily identified by Ed York. A coffin was brought from Independence, the body placed in the same, and the remains taken to Independence, passing through here about 3 o’clock in the morning.”

Besides the discovery of the body of York, there have already been discovered and exhumed six others from beneath the house, one of thorn being a child. In addition to these new evidences of damnable murder und wholesale crime, three more graves were found, and at the writing of our correspondent were to be speedily opened and examined. All the bodies exhumed gave evidence of having been struck by some heavy instrument  – a hammer or hatchet – on the back and lower part of the skull. Some of the bodies were stripped entirely of the clothing. The lender family to whom the crime is attributed, were spiritualists, and occupied the premises, but fled before the discovery. It was found, upon seeking their whereabouts, that they had secured tickets and gone to Humboldt, which is the last trace of them. It transpires that, during the search for the missing persons, one of the Bender family, a young woman named Kate, who represented herself as a spiritualist and a medium, was appealed to for information, when the victims were traced to Bender premises, and she replied that she would consult the spirits if time would be given her to do so, and would, through their agency, be able to disclose the whereabouts of the missing persons. The time was granted, and, in the meantime, the family took opportunity to decamp, since which lime nothing has been learned of them, other than their buying the tickets for Humboldt, The family kept the an eating saloon at this place, and, although there seems to be no apparent motive for the horrible murder, it is more than likely it was perpetrated for the gain plundered from travellers along the main road leading from Oswego to Independence Kas. Altogether without a parallel.

[“The Kansas Horror. – Revelations of the Crimes of the Bender Family.” (From Kansas City Journal of Commerce, May 8), The Dubuque Herald (Io.), May 11, 1873, p. 1] Note: In the original "hatchet" is spelled "hatched."


3 Serial Killer Clans in 19th Century Kansas:
1873 – Kate Bender (“Bloody Benders”) – Cherry Vale, Kansas, USA
1887 – Kate & Kit Kelly (Kelly Family) – No Man’s Land, Kansas, USA
1897 – Nancy Staffleback & 2 sons, Ed, George – Galena, Kansas, USA


For similar cases, see: Female Serial Killer Bandits


For more cases of this category, see: Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America (as of January 20, 2014, the collection contains 61 cases)


1 comment:

  1. It was assumed that one of the male Benders was the killer, but the evidence speaks otherwise. Ma Benders husband, Kate's father was supposedly murdered by bludgeoning to the head. There is also a story of Ma Bender tracking down Bender Sr. years later in an invalid home and having him fear for his life, thinking she would kill him. Newspapers also reported at the time that all the men had been "indecently mutilated". To me this means the crimes were of a psychosexual nature. Many of the men had also been stabbed repeatedly, which indicates anger or revenge. Although the family benifitted materially from the crimes, I believe the men were mere accesories essentially cleaning up afterwards. The younger John Bender was considered to be mentally challenged, and the older said little was always stooped over, and always reading his bible. At the time it would not have seemed plausible that women could be the ring-leaders and perpetrators of violent crime, and the psychosexual serial killer was unheard of. I think with our knowledge of misandry and serial killers these crimes should be re-examined. Perhaps Kate's father abused her, Ma killed him but blamed her for her promiscuity. She was know to be very flirtatious. Could they have been re-enacting the original murder of the father or all the other unsuspecting victims, with Kate seducing the men and Ma murdering them?