Serial killers are hardly a phenomenon confined to the 20th and 21st centuries. Many periods of history have been witness to serial murders of their own. The Old West was a well-known time of lawlessness, so it’s no surprise that there were many active serial killers stalking the prairies and deserts of North America.
Whether they murdered for profit, pleasure, or both, the impact on the victims, their families, and the community was always the same. The ruthlessness of the following crimes may shock you, so mentally prepare yourself for the brutality to come.
10. The Bloody Benders
The Bloody Benders were a family who moved into Osage Township, Kansas, in late 1870. This family of four would end up killing as many as 21 people.The West could be a dangerous and violent place, so a safe area of peace and refuge would have been a cherished thing. This is how the Benders lured their victims in. They would play the part of a loving family with a cozy inn for weary travelers to stay, and when their guests had their backs turned, the Benders would bash in their skulls, steal their money, and bury them out back.
Several people who stopped at the Benders’ place told a tale about how they had almost become the serial-killing family’s victims. They said the Benders had a sheet hung up in a room that the men would hide behind while the women would try to get the guests to sit in a very specific chair facing away from the sheet. When they refused to sit, Ma Bender became enraged, and then the male Benders stepped out from behind the sheet. The men quickly left, likely avoiding becoming the Benders’ next victims.
The Benders themselves ultimately escaped before they could be captured, and they were never found.
9. Stephen Dee Richards
Stephen Dee Richards has been called the Old West’s Ted Bundy, but in his day and age, he was dubbed the Nebraska Fiend. He was a charming and well-spoken man. Unlike Bundy, Stephen seems to have had no preferred type of victim when it came to killing. He murdered a young man he had a disagreement with, and he killed a mother and her three children with an ax. He said of killing the family that it was no different to him than killing jackrabbits.
Stephen ultimately murdered nine people in total. He did not escape justice, however, and was hanged in 1879.