Supernatural urban legends: The real Bender family


Photo Credit: Supernatural/The CW/Sergei Bachlakov Image Acquired from CW TV PR

While most Supernatural episodes use lore and urban legends, some use stories of real people. That was the case for Season 1’s The Benders.

Have you ever wondered where the writers get some of the ideas for their stories from? Supernatural is full of dark, twisted material and it’s scary to think that all of that comes from the mind. That’s especially the case when it comes to storylines like The Benders, a family with a love for hunting humans for generations.

The good news is the story wasn’t fully made up. Unlike previous Supernatural episodes, “The Benders” wasn’t focused on urban legends and lore, but on real history and a fictional story. The story was Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game,” but the real life story is especially creepy.

The “Bloody” Benders

In 1870, John Bender, Sr. and his family settled in Kansas. He was nicknamed “Pa” and his wife called Ma. They had a son, also John but sometimes named Thomas, and a daughter Kate. While Pa and Ma mostly spoke German, the children spoke fluent English. All normal, right? That’s the only normal part to this family.

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It later turned out that the family wasn’t actually a family. John Jr. was likely Kate’s husband and not her brother. Ma Bender had had several other marriages, and all her husbands turned up dead with head wounds. The family surname wasn’t even Bender!

They all practised Spiritualism, which was something very new to the area at the time. Kate Bender also advertised her psychic abilities, and there are theories that Kate and her mother (the only two related) practiced witchcraft.

People would travel to see Kate, and many would never be heard of again. People didn’t initially notice the disappearances, since there were all types of reasons people would go missing on the road. Despite murder victims turning up in the area, the Benders weren’t suspected at first.

How were the Benders caught?

It took two years for someone to realize the Benders were involved. After George Loncher and his infant daughter went missing after leaving Independence, Kansas, Dr. William York went looking for them. He too went missing, which led to his brothers, Kansas Senator Alexander York and Colonel Ed York, to go looking for him.

When a woman claimed Ma Bender had threatened her with a knife, they decided to pay the family a visit. However, it was only when the township decided all homesteads would be searched for evidence over the murders. It took days for the searches to start due to weather, and that was when the Benders disappeared.

With the Benders gone, the townspeople searched the home. It was only when searching the consistently freshly ploughed farms that they came across numerous murder victims, including Dr. York. While only 10 bodies were found, the Benders were blamed for 21 murders.

The Benders were never found and nobody knows what happened to them.

It’s not quite Texas Chainsaw Massacre or “The Benders” from Supernatural, but it’s easy to see where the initial family storyline came from.

Next: Supernatural urban legends: Hallowed ground lore explained

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