The history of the Bender’s has been the talk of lore, myth, and loose facts for more than 100 years. The crimes that were uncovered on the Bender farm not only sparked a massive manhunt, but it showed a darker side to humanity, that anyone could be taken advantage of on the prairie.
In Hell’s Half-Acre, Susan Jonusas takes us through the story of the family, the crimes that were committed, and the search that went on for decades for the family that became known as the first serial killer family in America.
Kate Bender was the most well-known of the family, but it was because was the more outgoing, the one who was the more likeable of the family in and around the community, but her easy going ways did not still the rumors that began to swirl about her before the crimes were uncovered. It was her spiritualism side that began the darker rumors, sparking stories and fear among some who had gone through séances in her home, or were being hounded to allow her to conduct a séance to reach a newly departed family member. There were stories of people feeling afraid in the cabin, and more than one fled from the cabin after feeling that something was not right. Fleeing might have just saved their lives.
As the crimes were uncovered, the horror spilled throughout the community. It was not uncommon for people to head west and disappear, but the large number of those who were disappearing around the small area in Kansas started to cause consternation. As more and more bodies were uncovered, anger grew, and a party went off in search of the Bender’s. Unfortunately, they had a head start, and were able to disappear into the outlaw gang territories, evading justice.
My Thoughts on Hell’s Half-Acre
As I read through this book, it was hard for me to put down. I absolutely LOVED it. There are sections that were harder to read, but the story of the Bender’s has been one that has captivated readers time and time again. With their escape, evasion of justice, and the sheer number of crimes (not to mention one was a child), anger and fascination with the family has endured.
For true crime lovers, this is a must read, can’t stop reading, oh I have a book hangover volume. Take my word for it — get a copy now.