When we picture serial killers in our minds, we often see loners, travelling between states on a cold-blooded mission of their own. But what about whole families who killed together – many times over? It does happen and in these following extreme cases we look at the families who committed these sinister crimes as a group.
8. The Bloody Benders
The Bloody Benders were a family of serial killers who lived in Labette County, southeastern Kansas. Between 1871 to 1873, they owned an inn and a small general store, what laid beneath the ground though would soon shock locals for many decades to come.
The family was John Bender, his wife Elvira Bender, their son John Jr and daughter Kate. They were not favoured by locals, with Elvira becoming known as the “she-devil”. Kate would distribute flyers around the town offering her spiritual services claiming that she could contact the dead. Newspapers which circulated during this time later reported that the son and daughter were both married to each other – a rumor that would typically be dismissed if it wasn’t for their other sinister crimes.
Over a dozen travellers had gone missing from the area of Labette County and the townsfolk were not happy that this was destroying their reputation as many other towns claimed it was now a place for “horse thieves and villains”. When a body had been discovered, with the skull smashed and the throat slit – this was enough. They all agreed a hunt for the killer would need to take place.
Three days after the search began, a local was driving past the Bender farm and he noticed the inn was abandoned and the families cattle were unfed. After reporting this, a search of the property took place and they were shocked to find an awful smell coming from inside the house. They turned over a bed, and underneath found a trapdoor which was nailed shut. After opening the trap, they found a six foot deep room which was empty and the floor was covered in clotted blood. They soon got to work and started to dig up the grounds.
Their dig continued until midnight and they discovered eight bodies along with a number of body parts. All but one had smashed skulls and their throats cut. Another body, belonging to a young girl, was believed to have been either strangled or buried alive. They also found a Roman Catholic bible in the house with a note inside that read: “big slaughter day, Jan eighth” and “hell departed.”
A Kansas newspaper reported that the locals were so angered by the crimes, that they hung a friend of the Benders, known as Brockman, until he was almost unconscious – then interrogated him on the whereabouts of the family. The Bender Family were never to be seen again.