In the early 1870s the counties of Labette and Montgomery in Kansas were experiencing an alarming number of missing persons. The investigation passed several times through the cabin of the Benders, a family of German immigrants who ran a small grocery store and restaurant outside of Cherryvale, Kansas, but the benders appeared completely innocent. When authorities found the cabin abandoned one day the picture changed. A closer look revealed nine murdered corpses, the handiwork of the Bloody Benders.
Location: Cherryvale, Kansas
Victim: Dr. William York & nine others
Cause of Death: Blows from a hammer, suffocation
Accused: The Bender Family
Around 1870 the Bender family built a small cabin outside of Cherryvale, Kansas, about fifty miles north of the Oklahoma border. William Bender and his wife (sometimes referred to as “Ma” Bender) were in their sixties; Thomas and Joanna—better known as Kate—were in their twenties. They were German immigrants; all spoke with accents and the elder Benders spoke little English. It is unclear exactly how these four were related. Most accounts say that Thomas and Kate were the son and daughter of William Bender and his wife, but Thomas was also known as John Gebhardt and is sometimes referred to as Kate’s husband. Other accounts say that none of them were actually named Bender and that only the mother and daughter were related. The men are described as “large, coarse appearing men.” The description of Kate ranges from “a large, masculine, red-faced woman” to “good looking, well formed, rather bold in appearance.” A number of sources agree that she had a ruddy complexion and she may have been a redhead.