KANSAS

THE BENDER FAMILY

THE BENDER BAND

More Facts Concerning the Horrible Tragedy in Kansas

A reporter of the Kansas City Times, who returned from the scene of the murders on Monday night, makes the following statement, which contains many facts of interest in addition to those already published:

The devil's kitchen, otherwise the Bender house, is a small, rude frame shanty, without lath or plaster or intervening substance between its floor and the rafters of the pointed roof. In size it is 16 by 24 feet. Small uprights 2 by 4 inches are set to mark the house into two compartments, but no wall had ever been made other than a white cotton cloth hung in the rear apartment and against these uprights. The front apartment had in it a counter over which the butchers once pretended to sell groceries. In the rear room was a rude bed, a table, a stove, and three chairs.

The table to which the guests of the fiends were seated, was placed directly over the trap door so that the guest's back was to and against the white curtain. In this position it was an easy thing for the male villains in the front apartment to strike the form clearly lined and resting against the white cloth and when the blows of the sledge and the hammer had knocked the victim, with a crushed and broken skull, senseless and helpless to the floor, for the female fiends in the back room to cut their throat. The execution was as simple as it was dreadful, but, though it would seem resistance to such well planned murder of the trusting and unsuspecting was impossible, the walls gave silent evidence that some of the murdered ones had not been sent to their doom without an effort to defend themselves. No less than a dozen bullet holes in the sides and roof of the house attest that armed men, when struck down so relentlessly, had attempted to shoot their murderers, but, unfortunately, the aims had been wild and the murderers are reserved for the hempen halter.

THE SITUATION

This building is located just on the rising edge of a beautiful narrow valley, circled on the south, east and west by a range of mounds of the valley. The hills are distant from the house from a half mile to a mile, the closest being on the south to the rear. The house fronted to the road just in the bend, sitting back about its own length from the roadway. From this point of the road can be had a full view of everything for half a mile in every direction, but not another house is within sight. It is about seven miles from Cherryvale, ten miles from Thayer, eight miles from Ladore, and two miles from Morehead, and just in the northwest corner of Labette county.

PISTOLS AND KNIVES FOR A SUPPER

One of the most marvelous stories ever heard, but which is vouched for by reliable men is the following: One evening about three months ago, a poor woman, footsore and weary, traveling to Independence, without money, stopped at the Bender den and asked for some supper, and for the privilege of resting awhile. She was invited in and being nearly exhausted she took her shoes and scanty wrappings off and lay down on the bed in the back room. She soon fell into a troubled doze, from which she was awakened by the "touch of the old hag of the den, who pointing to an array of pistols and double edged knives of various sizes, lying on the table, said in the spirit of bellish malignity: "there, your supper is ready." The woman was motionless and breathless with terror, and as she sank back on the bed, the devil dame picked up the knives one by one and drew her finger along the sharpened blades at the same time glancing fiendishly at her intended victim. How this terror lasted the woman could not tell but at last she in the very desperation of fear, arose, as though not alarmed and made a private excuse for going out. She was permitted to do so and moving around to the shelter of the stable, barefooted and scarce half clad, she darted off on the wings of fear and ran two miles to the house of one who protected her and gave her shelter. As she was running away, she turned frequently to see if she was pursued but no one followed her, though she saw the light from the opened doorway several times, as though the devils inside were awaiting her return.

Even this story seems not have aroused more than the before existing suspicion that the Benders were not exactly the right kind of people.

A BUNGLING BUSINESS

Although for the past three years this section has been infested with horse thieves and murders, and this known to every one about the country, it is probable the same state of affairs might have continued for an indefinite period had not the murder of Dr. York, a man of family, friends and reputation, led to the exposure. Men have been missed and bodies found of murdered men for three years past, and vigilance committees have hunted and driven some men from the country but it would now seem as though the leaders of these "regulators" were themselves the villains and honest men had been falsely and foully suspected and driven from their homes. Known villains have for that time been sent to the Penitentiary only to be pardoned out by Governors.

And even the band of seventy-five armed and honest men who scoured the country in search of Dr. York when it was learned that he was missing seem to have had very little judgment or discretion.

On the 28th of March last, Col. York and Mr. Johnson visited the Bender House, to which place they had tracked Dr. York, and endeavored to coax some information from them, but they would tell nothing. On the 3d of April, this armed band visited the house with the sole object of finding the murderers of Dr. York, yet they did not notice the bullet holes in the house, and allowed themselves to be fooled by an assumed stupidity which was the disguise of most hellish cunning. The old hag sat mum and gloomy, pretending she could not understand or speak English, old Bender said nothing; Kate, she of the evil eye, denied all knowledge of the lost, and the younger male villain fooled them with a well made up story. He said that at about the time they said Dr. York was missed, he, Bender,

HAD BEEN SHOT AT

In a lonesome place near Drum Creek, one evening, and it must have been by those who killed the doctor. He described the place minutely and then took them to it, and it was found as he said, and they half believed his story, and returned with him. Col. York repeated the story given above, of supper and pistols and knives offered to the lone woman, when the old hag soon found her sense of the English language improved. She understood all that had been said, and flew into a violent passion. She denied the story of the supper, but said that that was a bad and wicked woman whom she would kill if she ever came near them again; that the woman was a witch and had bewitched Kate's coffee, and then she ordered the whole band away. While going and coming from the creek John told Col. York that his sister Kate could do anything, that she could control the devil, and that the devil did her bidding. When they returned to the house Col. York tried to induce this wonderful mistress of the devil to reveal where the body of his brother was. She positively and persistently refused her Satanic aid at this time, giving as her reason therefor that she could not do so in the daytime and while there were so many men and so much noise about.

AN INVITATION

This pretended sorceress and real fiend then told Col. York privately that if he would come the next night, Friday - when best she worked her spells - and bring only one man with him, she would take him to the grave of his murdered brother. Had the Colonel been so foolish as to believe this mysterious power of the creature there is no doubt she would have proved her promise good. The whole band then left the house. They visited the houses of Roach, and Smith and Harness at Ladore, and made many threats, but accomplished nothing. Their intent was good, but they lacked an experienced detective for a leader. So strong was their conviction, however, of the guilt of the Roach's and the Benders that they would have hung them then if it had not been for the persuasion of Col. York and a few others, who were determined that none but the known guilty should suffer. Of course this visit alarmed the Benders, and they fled. How, has been published in the Times.

MORE CARELESSNESS

It seems strange that no watch was put upon the suspected Benders and still more strange that they should have been gone three weeks before anyone knew of it. When they went to Thayer they left their team and wagon and dog on the public street of the town. On the street the team and wagon remained for two days without a claimant when they were taken charge of by a livery firm there - Bears & Wheeler. No notice, other than a notice in the Head Light, the local journal, was given of the finding of the team and no description of the horses published, though they were peculiarly and similarly marked. Had such description been given, it must have led to the speedy pursuit of the fleeing criminals. It is not suspected that there was any guilt in this neglect, but only carelessness.

THERE MUST BE A GANG

No doubt is entertained that the Benders have not been alone in their damnable villainy. They must have had confederates to dispose of the stock and clothes of the murdered men, and suspicion has readily pointed to a number of men, living throughout that section, in different directions, and to none with more evidence of justice than to one.

MIT. CHERRY

This fellow lives about three miles south of Parsons, and when Col. York was making search for his brother he tried to influence the Colonel to employ him as a detective. Luckily the Colonel would have nothing to do with him. This man, it is said by two men who are generally credited, at different places and times, and separately, told him he was a member of a band of "Regulators" in the county, and that when they found a criminal they never troubled him with the law, or put the county to any expense about him; that the band always knew their own work when they saw it, for every man they put out of the way laid with his throat cut, his left arm across his breast, and his right by his side. In all such condition and position were found nearly all the Bender victims. As a further evidence against this fellow, it is known that soon after McCrotty's disappearance was known, and when there was about to be some action taken to look for him, he pretended to have a letter from McCrotty, telling of his safe arrival in Illinois, at his intended destination.

The other suspected parties who have been arrested are men of bad repute in general and believed for some time to be horse thieves, if nothing worse. On Sunday Sheriff Stone brought into Independence, under arrest, Addison Roach, of Ladore, and William Buxton, a son-in-law of the elder Roach, both fond near Cedarvale. This makes the number under arrest now on suspicion, so far as known, twelve. The names of the others have been published in the Times.

LAST SUNDAY AT THE GRAVES

On last Sunday there were about one thousand men, women and children at the Bender grounds, gazing with mingled emotions of horror and curiosity. The graves even yet sent forth a sickening stench, and women held their noses as they peered down into the now tenantless holes. Two special trains were run, one from Independence and one from Coffeyville, to a point on the railway line about two miles from the house and teams were busy running to and from the grounds, while the greater portion of the crowd were compelled to walk. The trains brought three hundred persons there from all parts of the surrounding country, in wagons, carriages and on horseback.

The curiosity of many seemed to master their repulsion and hundred brought away some memento of the dreadful place. The bloodstained bedstead was smashed to pieces and divided in the crowd, all the shrubbery and the young trees were broken or torn up and carried away and pieces of the house borne off by the curious. Such another raid would not leave much of the shanty. It was supposed that the grounds would be plowed and scraped again this day to search for other bodies but the intent was abandoned and it is not probably that any further search will be made until it is done regularly by the county authorities.

REWARDS OFFERED

Rewards to the amount of $5,000 have been offered for the capture of the murderers, and there is not the slightest doubt that they will be recovered. On last Saturday the detectives were on the trail of the Benders, with the expressed certainty of effecting their speedy capture and it is more than probable they are already taken. With the number under arrest and the others watched, no doubt someone will reveal the whole truth, when Kansas will be rid of the worst scoundrels that ever infested and cursed this country.

THE BAND FORMERLY FROM INDIANA

From the New Albany Ledger-Standard

The sickening details of the terrible Bender murders in Kansas, come to us with fearful emphasis in view of our discovery, of the fact that the inhuman murderers were probably for some time residents of the neighborhood of this city, and that circumstances in connection with the recent developments in Kansas, strongly point them out as the authors of a mysterious murder, which happened in our midst some year and a half ago.

Our readers will remember the circumstances attending the murder of a German and his wife by the name of Bandle, and the burning of the house over their bodies. The mystery has never been removed from that terrible tragedy and up to this time no person has ever been accused, or even suspected, of the commission of that crime. We believe that the bloody trail leads us to the Kansas fiends. At the time of the Bandle tragedy, there was resident, near this city a family by the name of Bender.

The family consisted of two men and two women. The men were employed on the McCulloch farm on Silver Creek at the time of the Bandle murder, and it will be remembered that this identical farm was the scene of that homicide. Soon after the occurrence of that shocking affair, the Benders left and went to Kansas. It seems that on reaching Kansas they entered upon a career of crime which is without parallel in the history of our times.

Taking up their residence near Cherryvale, Kansas in an unfinished house, standing on the roadside and out of view of any other human habitation, they constructed, with devilish ingenuity a regular trap for any traveler whom they could inveigle into their den. They placed the table from which their meals were taken near a curtain of cotton cloth, so that the victim would sit with his back against the curtain. A candle placed on the table, would of course, shadow the form of the person sitting against it on the cloth and a blow with an ax or hammer given by a man on the opposite side of the curtain would fell the sitter to the floor, and then the cutting of his throat could be easily accomplished. The number of their victims is as yet unknown. Eight bodies have already been disinterred and recognized by their clothing or by marks upon their persons. These monsters had buried their victims in the garden attached to their premises. In one instance they had buried a man and in the same grave was found the dead body of his infant child, with every evidence of its having been buried alive. The circumstantial evidence which connects them with the murder of Bandle and his wife may be summed up thus:

1. The identity of the names.
2. The description of the Kansas murderers answers exactly to the Benders who lived here.
3. Their manner of living in Kansas - the two men and the two women living as one family, is exactly as they lived here.
4. The Benders left this city for Kansas, the place we find them now.
5. The time of their departure from this point corresponds with the time of their arrival in Kansas.
6. The residence of the Benders on the farm on which Bandle and his wife were murdered, and their immediate departure from the scene.

The Benders fled from Kansas when they discovered the suspicions of the people there; but we are informed by telegraph that the entire brood of devils were arrested this morning near Dallas, Texas. We predict that before they all swing from the scaffold, some one of them will confess their complicity with the Bandle tragedy near this city. (Cincinnati Daily Gazette, May 17, 1873, page 2)

ARE DETECTIVES USEFUL?

Over a year ago, says the New York Sun, the discovery was made that near the small town of Cherryvale, in Kansas, a series of atrocious murders had been committed. In a rough building situated out on the prairie a family named Bender lived and thrived, the main element of their existence being unwary travelers who, from stress of weather or other adverse circumstances, were compelled to go to their hut in order to protect themselves from the storms. We have no account of the manner in which this singular hotel was conducted, as it was a peculiarity of travelers, who stayed there never to go further, in consequence of which they never had an opportunity of relating their experience. From the local journals, however, whose remarks upon this subject we have watched with interest, it seems that one at least of the family, an elderly lady called Kate, who had a gift of fortune-telling, grew gaunt and lean, while her brothers, her father, and especially her mother, wasted away, as it were, in person, although they suddenly became plethoric in pocket. How long this kind of thing might have gone on in Kansas, the Bender family getting leaner and their pockets getting fatter every day, nobody would have known if it had been for a remarkable discovery. The brother of a Kansas Senator happened to partake of the hospitalities of the Bender family one night, and was never afterwards heard of until his brother, with some officers of justice, plowed up the Bender farm and found not only the remains of the particular missing man they were in search of, but also the skeleton of a large number of individuals of no marked characteristics, who had disappeared from society without causing a ripple upon its surface. This created great astonishment among the neighbors, who soon began to whisper that the Bender family was no better than it should be. The result was that the Bender family fled, and though nearly every day the telegraph brings news of the arrest of one of the family, no one of the murderers has yet really been seized. Neither has the murderer of Nathan ever been brought to justice, while even now the police of Philadelphia are pretending to hunt out the mystery attendant upon the kidnapping of a small child. These and many others mysterious things lead to the conclusion that the detective police service of the different cities in the United States is woefully at fault. Large rewards have been offered for the apprehension of the interesting Bender family, the members of which even now, may be, enjoying the facilities for pleasure afforded by our first class hotels. (The Elk County Advocate, Ridgway, Pa., August 6, 1874)

BENDER FAMILY MAY ANSWER FOR MANY MURDERS

The Notorious Quartet of Assassins Located in Colorado - Topeka, Kans., July 23 - Four persons said to be members of the notorious Bender family, accused of committing a score of murders at their home near Galena, Kans., over a score years ago, have been located near Fort Collins, Colo., and Governor Stanley has issued requisition papers on the Governor of Colorado for their return to this State. The first steps toward bringing the suspects to Kansas were taken upon the representations of Frank Ayers of Fort Collins, who asserts that one of the quartet, Kate Bender, was once his wife. Governor Stanley issued the requisition upon affidavits of four men who went to Colorado especially to identify the suspects.

The Benders committed a series of the most atrocious crimes ever recorded. they lived on a small farm near Galena and for years, as it developed after their flight, they had lured travelers and buried their bodies in the yard around their home or under the house. All four members of the family were accused of aiding in the murders. The family consisted of man, wife, daughter and son. The parents would now be in the seventies and the children about 50 years of age. (The San Francisco Call., San Fancisco, California, July 24, 1901, front page)

THE BENDER FAMILY FAKE; HAS BEEN REVIVED BY A NOTORIETY SEEKING KANSAN

By Associated Press - Fort Collins, Colo., Aug. 14 - Frank Ayres, who asserts that his wife is Kate Bender, has started for the mountains, as he said, to secure more evidence against the alleged Benders. He is accompanied by two men supposed to be detectives from Kansas. They will go into the Lone Pine country, as Ayres states, to trace up the whereabouts of Lavin, who was once married to Mrs. Ayers. Mrs. Ayers asserts Lavin is in Colorado. Lavin, so Ayers says, has in his possession some keepsakes that belonged to the Bender family. (The Guthrie Daily Leader, August 14, 1901, page 3)

RELATIVE OF A BENDER VICTIM REVIEWS OLD CRIME

Written for the Sunday Republic - Although it is a fact generally settled in the public mind that the infamous quartet of murderers, the Bender family have been tracked down, one of the family is occasionally "discovered" living under an assumed name in some part of the country. The latest report of this kind is the recent alleged discovery of Kate Bender is California, where she is supposed to have been seen and recognized by a man who knew her in Kansas.

Since this reported discovery of Kate Bender the fact has come to light that there is living at the present time in St. Louis a brother of Doctor York, the last victim of the Benders, and the man whose murder led to their flight and to the facts concerning the series of cruel murders they committed.

This man is Julius H. York, a railroad emigrant agent, of No. 3833 Russell avenue. Mr. York recalls all of the details in connection with the brutal murder of his brother and of the subsequent discovery of his dead body, which was buried in the Bender garden. He himself was a member of the posse which pursued the family. When seen at his home recently, Mr. York consented to tell the story of the Benders and of their last murder, that of his brother.

Doctor W. A. York Began His Fatal Journey in March, 1875

"It was in the month of March, 1875, that my brother, Doctor W. A. York, left his home in Fort Scott, kas., to go to the home of his parents in Independence." said Mr. York. "He traveled on horseback and was mounted on one of the finest animals that was ever brought into the State of Kansas. The horse was one which was ridden by him during the four years of his service as surgeon in the army. It was a fine animal, and in those days, when good horses commanded a high price, was worth quite a figure. When my brother left his house he gave his wife some money, together with his gold watch, as he did not feel altogether safe with the valuables on his person."

"About three weeks before my brother commenced his journey one of his neighbors in Fort Scott had borrowed his wagon and together with his little daughter, had gone on a trip the route of which had taken them in the same direction which he intended to take in his journey to Independence. The man and his daughter had been gone some two or three weeks, and as nothing had been heard from them since their departure their absence was causing much comment. As my brother rode away he remarked that he feared his neighbor had met foul play, and that he intended to make inquiry about him along the road."

"With that remark he rode away. Some three weeks passed before our family began to grow suspicious regarding his unexplained absence. His wife thought that he had arrived at Independence and our family supposed that he had not yet left his home at Fort Scott. Letters were finally exchanged, however, and his mysterious disappearance at once became known. Search was instituted to ascertain his whereabouts. A party composed of my two brothers, Edward and Colonel A. M. York; myself and quite a number of others, went to Fort Scott and took up the route which my brother had taken. We followed him until we got within fifteen miles of Independence, when we could find no further trace of him. The last news we learned of him was at the house just the other side of the Bender home, were the family living there remembered seeing him. All trace of him was here abruptly lost. The Benders, when questioned, professed to know nothing about him. We did not at that time suspect them of any knowledge of his disappearance.

Bender Family Fled While The Search Was in Progress - While we passed on and commenced our search in another direction. A week or so passed and the neighbors of the Benders commenced to notice something wrong around the Bender premises. Not a member of the family had been seen since our visit there, and the stock at the place was uncared for. A horse and cow lariated out in the yard had eaten a circular plot of grass in which they were tethered bare to the ground and had evidently had no water for several days. An investigation was made. Some of the neighbors called at the house and found the doors locked. The Benders had escaped."

"This fact was reported to us and our suspicions were at once aroused. We went to the Bender home, broke down the doors of the house and entered. What we found there had been told over and over again. We saw the blood stains upon the wall and found the fatal trap door. We saw the black curtain which hung behind the chairs at the dining table and behind which Kate Bender had stood with hammer in hand when she beat out the brains of the victims who were decoyed into the house and seated at the table."

"In the cellar under the trap door we found blood upon the walls and floor, but there was no further trace of any crimes. We were certain that we had located the place where Doctor York had disappeared, and accordingly commenced a search of the premises. One of the party passed through the garden near the house and noticed a sunken spot in the ground which looked like a grave. Going to our wagon, he took out the end rod and stuck it in the top of the sunken place. It struck something hard a short distance below the surface and a spade was secured. After a few moments work we uncovered the body of Doctor York, which had been crowded into a small box. His head had been beaten with a hammer and the features were almost unrecognizable."

"After this discovery we continued our digging, and the result was that we unearthed seven other bodies, two of which were the bodies of my brother's neighbor and his little daughter. They had been buried in the same grave. The whole neighborhood at once formed itself into an armed posse and the search for the missing Benders was commenced."

Members of Family Were Traced To Walnut - "We traced them to the small town of Walnut, a few miles distant, where they had driven in a covered wagon. They had left their team and wagon tied in the streets and had then boarded a train. We were never able to find any further trace of them. Stories that have been told and retold about their being caught on the banks of a small stream in Indian Territory and of their being killed and buried there, are all false. Nobody ever heard of the Benders after they boarded the train at Walnut. True, they have been reported found a thousand times since, but the stories are not true. Of course, I have my own theory as to what became of them, but it is merely a theory."

"In disposing of the plunder which they got from their victims, it is my theory that they had a string of confederates all the way from Kansas to Indian Territory. When their exposure was brought about they fled to some of these confederates. When the search for them became too hot they were killed by their confederates to avoid exposure. I am certain that Kate Bender escaped and may be living today. About twelve years ago I was in Chicago, and was on board a street car when I saw the face of a woman I am absolutely certain was Kate Bender. Before the car could be stopped she had disappeared."

"I knew all the members of the Bender family well. I stopped at the house a number of times, and talked with all of them. The family consisted of four persons: Old man Bender, his wife, Kate, the daughter, and a son, John. They looked like criminals. Kate was a tall, angular type of woman with the hardest face I ever saw. She was as strong and muscular as a man. The older woman was gray-haired and her eyes were set far back in her head, giving her a wicked expression. John, the son, looked to be a villainous character. The old man was rarely seen around the place."

"The fine horse which my brother rode was never seen again, and probably was disposed of by the Benders through their confederates. I have often thought that robbery may not have been the motive for which he was killed. He may have made inquiries about his missing neighbor, which led to his murder. The Benders may have killed him to ally suspicion of former crimes. My brother's widow and son are now living in Southern Texas. (The St. Louis Republic, September 1, 1901, front page)

BENDER MYSTERY - WAS MRS. W. PETERS, WHO DIED AT RIO VISTA, THE NOTORIOUS WOMAN IN MURDER CASES?

Rio Vista, May 4 - Was Mrs. W. Peters, whose lifeless body was found today in her dwelling on the river shore, the notorious Kate Bender, who with her parents and brother, was implicated in June, 1873, at Cherryvale, Kan., in the murder of 12 men.

Living alone and avoided in a dilapidated house the woman had few friends in her last days, but it is told today over her remains that 10 years ago she confessed to General John Collins that she was Kate Bender.

It is said that she admitted that her part in the horrors was to lure men to the Bender tavern. After the family crimes were discovered, the alleged confession continued, Kate Bender escaped from the Kansas town, went to Chicago, then made her way to the Atlantic seaboard and came to San Francisco in a sailing vessel around Cape Horn.

Dr. R. H. Endicott, formerly of Rio Vista, now living in Oakdale, has been mentioned as knowing the story of the woman's career. In a telephone interview with a call correspondent tonight Doctor Endicott said that he knew nothing of any confession that Mrs. Peters might have made and nothing that would tend in any way to connect her with the Bender family.

Married Sea Captain

About 30 years ago the woman came to Rio Vista, after having lived in San Francisco, where it is said she was employed as a nurse by Dr. C. C. O'Donnell. She married Captain John Gavin, a whaler and arctic sealer, but was separated from him and resumed the name of Peters, which she said was her maiden name.

In Rio Vista the woman kept a roadhouse. Ten years ago she was taken seriously ill and it was then that she is alleged to have made her confession to General Collins.

The Bender murders were peculiarly atrocious crimes and the fate of the murderers has been a subject of continual speculation ever since the crimes were discovered. One story was to the effect that the four members of the Bender family were lynched at the scene of their outrages in 1873.

The Benders - father, mother; John, a son, and Kate, the daughter - ran a tavern at Cherryvale, near Galena, Kan. The place was regarded with suspicion by the countryside. One day in June, 1873, Dr. William York disappeared after having been seen traveling in the direction of the Bender tavern.

Later a search was made of the Bender place and in the cellar the man's glasses were found. The search was continued and the bodies of 12 victims were found buried in the yard. Nothing definite was learned of the Bender family after that.

Family Lynched, He Says

On July 24, 1901, a Kansas family traveling near Denver, professed to identify a Mrs. Frank Ayres of Fort Collins, Kan., as Kate Bender. In August of the same year cornelius Stone, a resident of Linn County, Ore., declared that he was one of a party of men who first discovered the crimes of the Benders and that he assisted in the lynching of the entire family including Kate Bender.

The woman who died in Rio Vista was about the age that Kate Bender would have been had she lived.

The old woman, Mrs. Peters or Kate Bender, had been dead several days before her body was discovered. (The San Francisco Call., San Francisco, Calif., May 5, 1910, page 3)

A NOTORIOUS WOMAN; KATE BENDER MAKES CONFESSION; MURDERER IS DEAD

Rio Vista, Cal., May 5 - That a woman who lived here nearly 30 years under the names of Mrs. Gavin and Mrs. Peters, who died recently, was really Kate Bender, of the notorious Bender family of Kansas murderers, is a statement made by Jack Collins, a resident of this place.

The woman was found dead in her home near here last Monday. She had been conducting a resort of ill repute for several years and lately had been living alone, according to Collins, a close friend of the woman.

Tells Story of Life

Mrs. Peters revealed her identity to him several years ago while believing she was on her death bed, Collins declared. He said she gave him a detailed account of many murders she and her brothers had committed in the Bender home at Cherryvale, Kas., in the seventies.

During the investigation of the murders, the woman escaped to Chicago, afterward going to New York and sailing around the Horn to San Francisco.

There she became a trained nurse, married John Gavin, a whaler, and 10 or 15 years later began a life of shame.

The dead woman was 76 years of age. A reward of $5,000 at one time was offered for her capture.

History of Benders

Kansas City, Mo., May 5 - It is not known how many murders the notorious Bender family committed while living in Labette County, Kansas, but after they fled nine bodies were found on the place. The family consisted of William Bender, aged 60; his wife, aged 55; Kate, aged 25 and John aged 23.

Kate Bender professed to be a magnetic healer. The Bender house was situated on the main highway between Independence, Kansas, and the Osage mission. The Benders kept a little store and hotel, but it was said to be a decoy for weary travelers more than anything else. The fate of the Bender family after their crimes were discovered, has never been definitely known. Some have said the entire family was killed by a pursuing posse. Others have said Kate escaped. (El Paso Herald, El Paso, Texas, May 5, 1910, front page)

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