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Chicago Tribune, May 10, 1873. Meet the Benders, a Kansan family of saloon-keeping, highway-robbing, serially-killing, corpse-plundering spiritualists. Seems they were doing all right in their chosen line of work until they bumped off the brother of a state senator.
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Okay, okay: enough with the forensics, however lurid. Let’s get to the spooky stuff!

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So: the cops, unable to locate the missing persons, enlist the psychic aid of medium Kate Bender, who stalls them long enough for her whole murderous clan to get away. They were never caught, by the way.

That last sentence–“Altogether the murders are without a parallel”– strikes me as wholly licensed by the facts.


  1. “affluvia arising” !? Man , you just don’t get writing like that in today’s pape. Maybe in the Sports section.

    • It’s true: that’s the last bastion of poetry in the pape.

  2. A replica of the Bender farm was operated as a roadside attraction in Cherryvale, Kansas from 1961-1978, complete with murderous mannequins to reenact the dastardly deeds.

    This site has a photo gallery of the exhibits that, frankly, gave me the giggles. It’s nice to think, though, that the good people of Cherryvale finally found a non-violent way to rip off tourists.

  3. Holy. Fucking. Shit.

    I would to God I ran across this tourist trap in 1978, without ever having heard of the Benders.

    • I stumbled across that site maybe four or five years ago during an insomniacal surfing spree. I had completely forgotten about it until I saw today’s link back to this article from the Staffleback piece. Then it all came flooding back to me like the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist.

      I wish I could say I visited this place when it was in operation, but the closest I ever came was a trip to Silver Dollar City before the Welk family took over the whole area.

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