The Bloody Benders

While looking through historical records you may find something surprising: historical graffiti.  These are drawings done long ago in the corners and margins of official County records. 

Archives staff has only found a few examples, but certainly this is the most detailed, most graphic drawing: 

John Bender, "The Human Butcher"

The drawing is of John Bender, “The Human Butcher.” It was drawn in a Tax Ledger book from 1868, which recorded all of the taxes paid by Salt Lake County residents during that year. 

As the story goes, between 1871-1873, John Bender, his wife, son, and a so-called daughter named Kate operated an inn and grocery store in Kansas.  Many travelers from the nearby Osage Trail stopped at the inn.  When a number of travelers started disappearing in the area, a search of the surrounding homes was undertaken.  It was then discovered that the Benders had fled, leaving up to 11 victims buried in the orchard. 

“Though stories of strange experiences at the inn had circulated throughout the community since its establishment, few had given them credence. After the discovery, though, such tales seemed more plausible. Neighbors reported violent behavior, strange séances, and narrowly escaping with their lives. Those who escaped described being forced to sit at a table with their backs against a stained canvas curtain. Everyone assumed that Kate distracted the visitor while one of the men hit him on the back of the head with a hammer. The murderers then dropped the body through the trap door into the cellar and sliced the throat to ensure death. The Benders removed anything of value before burying the body in the orchard.”   Source: Kansas State Historical Society

Familiar, anyone?

Click here for more of the story.

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