The Bloody Benders


Original newspaper accounts of America’s most prolific murderers.

This episode, we’re looking at the legend of a Kansas family that killed at least 11 visitors to their roadhouse in the early 1870s. They aroused suspicion by choosing as a victim a well-known physician, whose family soon pulled out all stops in a search until they uncovered his body, along with 10 missing travelers, on the Bender property. The Bender Family was nowhere to be found, and never were. Sightings and even arrests were regular for many years, even into the next century, but the second act of this episode purports to tell the true story of what happened to the mass murdering hostelers.

Music by Chuck Wiggins.

The Murderpedia entery on the Bloody Benders has photos of the scene and drawings from newspapers.


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The Murderous Mania of Jolly Jane


The Unexpected Crimes of Nurse Toppan

History contains many cases of nurses who turned out to be killers, but there may not be one as bizarre as the case of Jane Toppan. Because she had such a cheerful disposition, people called her “Jolly Jane,” and so were completely surprised when she was arrested for the murder of a family in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. Once suspicions were aroused, accusations began to fall like rain. The exact count of her death toll remains a mystery, but estimates put it between 31 and 84 murders.


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Serial Killer Clips: Billy Gohl, Admiral of the Floater Fleet


A reading from America’s historic newspapers during the golden age of yellow journalism

Aberdeen, Washington

February, 1910

During the last half of the first decade of the twentieth century, the port of Grays Harbor near the city of Aberdeen Washington, was so inundated with dead bodies that the local newspapers called it the invasion of the floater fleet. Numerous investigations did not turn up anything except a few likely suspects and even more mystery. When police arrested the local union agent Billy Gohl for the murder of a pair of sailors, they believed they caught the man behind anywhere from 40 to 200 murders between 1906 and 1910.

Music by Chuck Wiggins


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