The murdering Bender family comprised of Ma & Pa, their daughter Kate and son John Jr., arrived in the Cherryvale, Kansas area in 1871. They opened the Bender Inn, serving meals to travelers. The inn was actually a one-room cabin with a heavy piece of burlap dividing it into dining and sleeping areas.
In 1873 Dr. York, a traveling medical man, disappeared. To find him, Dr. York’s brother started following his trail. It led to the Bender’s place. The Benders indicated that he had been there on March 28, but had left right afterward. Dr. York’s brother discovered that his brother’s trail ended at the Bender Inn.
When the brother returned to the Bender Inn, he found it abandoned. A search of the area around the inn discovered the corpses of eight men and a young girl buried in the back yard. It seems the Benders would feed a lonely traveler at a table with his back to the curtain. During the meal, he was hit on the head, his throat was then cut and for temporary storage, he was then dropped into a pit below the floorboards.
Kate Bender, the daughter, a hazel-eyed fortuneteller in the bloom of womanhood, would probably distract the traveler. Of course, she knew the traveler’s fortune. It was bleak.
Nothing was heard of the Benders until 17 years later when two women, believed to be Ma and Kate Bender were arrested in Michigan. They were returned to Kansas, and brought to trial. Because of the lack of a positive identification, the two women were released… And the Bender family were never heard from again. Or at least they were never caught again.