This Unsolved Kansas Murder Mystery Will Boggle Your Mind

Does the term “Bloody Benders” mean anything to you? No, it isn’t some sort of an alcoholic drink; it is the nickname given to the family involved in one of Kansas’s most notorious unsolved mysteries. Without further ado, let me introduce you to the Bender family:

Thought to have been post-Civil War immigrants from Germany, the Bender family moved to Kansas with four other spiritualist families in an attempt to farm the land and heal locals with their supernatural abilities.

In 1870, both John Sr. and John Jr. traveled along the Osage Trail in an effort to find land on which to build. They eventually decided on a 160-acre plot (in what is now Cherryvale) in which they built a large cabin that doubled as both their living quarters and a general store. Since the makeshift store was just yards away from the heavily populated Osage Trail, the family’s business boomed as travelers from all over shopped their store and rested at the inn.

It was during this time that solo travelers on the trail were reported missing, last seen miles away in Big Hill Country. These disappearances continued to occur, which in-turn dissuaded settlers from traveling through the area.

During the spring of 1873, town officials called a meeting to discuss the mysterious circumstances and what needed to be done to prevent them from happening again. Both John Sr. and John Jr. attended the meeting, saying very little to nothing. A few days later a neighbor of the Bender’s noticed emaciated livestock on their property, and when he went to confront them, he found that they had vanished. When town members organized a search party to find the family, they discovered the cabin had been ransacked, with several items missing. Upon further investigation, the men discovered clots of blood buried under a cabin trapdoor, leading to the cabin’s dismantle and removal from its very foundation. Soon after, a grizzly scene was uncovered; the bodies of several travelers were found buried upside-down, some with blunt-force trauma to their heads and some with slit throats.

To this day, it is unclear just what happened to the Bender family, who disappeared without a trace that warm, spring day. The Bender’s story has become a legend in Kansas, with theories and accounts becoming bigger by the day. We may never know just what happened to this notorious family, but one thing is for sure; their story is quite possibly one of the most mind-boggling and mysterious ones in Kansas history.