Dallas Morning News, November 6, 1889. Time for some follow-up on that recovered memory-inflected FBAS (False Bender Arrest Syndrome) drama whereof we spake last month. Deviating from the journalistic norms of its day, the Dallas Morning News decided ahead of time that this story smells like bullshit. There can never be enough of this kind of skepticism, especially in journalism.
[Which reminds me: I don’t think I’ve ever posted a link to this ripping yarn I wrote back in 2004 about a nutty self-styled profiler of serial killers. Unfortunately this appeared a bit too early to tap into the subsequent vogue for busting fabricated memoirs and autobiographies, and the story grew no legs whatsoever. I still see the old dear popping up on TV once in a while to deliver expert psycho-forensic insights obtained from her long custodianship of John Wayne Gacy’s brain, which she keeps in a Tupperware container. Ah well, it all adds to the gaiety of nations, I suppose. ]
As previously noted, there are two contradictory traditions concerning the physical aspect of Kate Bender: 1) She was a smokin’ hot babe and 2) She was a serious troll. The former is by far the dominant trope, both in ye old newspaper stories like this and the various historical true-crime accounts written since. (Here, for example, is a page from Rick Geary’s engaging The Saga of the Bloody Benders.)
One would like to know more about how McCann got the mesmeric drop on Davis. Did she simply have one of those mesmerically dominant personalities, or were they messing about together with guided imagery and other occult forces?
OK, this is good to know: McCann was an orphan, and apparently shared a surname with the murdered Canadian John Sandford. That would seem to be the epistemological substrate of her entire case against Davis, everything else being more or less dream-derived.
Woah: sneaky interrogation technique! You gotta get up pretty early to put one over on Mrs. Francis E. McCann.
A “slinking gait” or, per Geary, a “‘tigerish’ grace”? Could all be in the eye of the beholder, one supposes.