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SHOP NOW: on Amazon Instant Video: Watch on Hulu: Check out our BuzzFeed Original Series channel on Roku: hit docuseries Unsolved True Crime follows conspiracy theory enthusiast Ryan as he deep-dives into the mysteries surrounding the most notorious unsolved crimes in history, in order to convince his dubious friend Shane that sometimes, the evidence isnt always as it seems.Check out more awesome videos at BuzzFeedBlue! 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[2] He was struck by bullets from at least two different firearms, in front of a crowd of people estimated as numbering between 30 and 46. There were so many nights Dad couldnt go out and mow the yard or water the flowers because there was a truck parked down the street, and they were watching the house, Monte said. On April 25, 1980 at Ernest "Bo" Bowenkamp's general store, a clerk asked McElroy's 8-year-old daughter to return a piece of candy she had not paid for. Harry MacLean, author of "In Broad Daylight". Unsolved 'Vigilante' Murder in the Heartland: Missouri Town Goes Quiet After Bully Is Shot, The townsfolk were infuriated. The meeting's entire purpose was to discuss what they could legally do to prevent McElroy from harming anyone else. Again, there were no indictments, and the McElroy murder case was tossed back to Baird. She died of cancer on Jan. 24, 2012; it was her 55th birthday. McCloud was McElroy's third "wife," though all unions were suspicious due to the fact that some of his marriages overlapped. Tucked away in the northwest corner of Missouri is a small, dusty town 46 miles north of St. Joseph with a decades-old secret. He knew which people to pick on the weak people and he followed through on his threats just often enough to make people believe he was going to do what he said he was going to do. Everyone just went home. June 16th, 1934: Ken Rex McElroy is born to Mabel and Tony McElroy, the thirteenth out of fourteen children. Allegedly, even the mayor was in on it. Another was McElroys intimidation tactics, MacLean writes. But in a dramatic act of solidarity with the gunman, every witness, save the dead mans wife, denied seeing who had pulled the trigger. McElroy was found not guilty. She died in 2012. In what could only be described as vigilante justice, they conspired to kill Ken McElroy. As he packed up his office last week, he gave his successor a memo that listed a dozen or so unsolved cases in Nodaway County including, down toward the end, the killing of Mr. McElroy. We might not see him for three or four days, and then wed see him every day for weeks, Monte said. McElroy eventually left the tavern and got into his pickup truck with his wife, but the mob of people followed the pair outside. Carjackers Steal More Cars Many With Kids Still Inside, After Indulgent Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday Signals Abstinence, Fasting. Dunbar talked to him, and [McElroy] pulled a gun on him, Monte said. Shortly after being released, McElroy was at D&G Tavern making threats about murdering Bowenkamp. In the end, fear is what killed him, Goslee said. His eyes just really put you in defense modehe really looked like a mean person.. McElroy was charged with assault with intent to kill. Ken Rex McElroy Jr. - Biography - IMDb Edit Ken Rex McElroy Jr. McElroy was getting into his pickup truck with his wife Trena on the main street of Skidmore where there was a crowd of 30 to 50 people. She died in 2012. However, in 1981, Trena told People magazine that the fire was a result of "faulty wiring.". The police would not or could not help us or Skidmore. What happened in Skidmore that day wasnt much different than the completely predictable result from shaking a carbonated beverage until the top finally blows. I am a History Educator and a Lifelong Learner with a Masters in Global History. Here are 13 things you need to know about Ken McElroy and his death before you tune into No One Saw A Thing, premiering this Thursday, Aug. 1, pulled from sources including Harry MacLean,. A reported crowd of up to 60 men had largely dispersed, but some onlookers remained, staring at the pickup. If you were to go to Skidmore today, there isn't much to see. A&E, Rolling Stone, Playboy, 60 Minutes, and other media outlets covered the story in print or television. Sixteen days after Trena gave birth, both she and Alice fled to Trena's mother's and stepfather's house. The morning of July 10, 1981, a group of frustrated and angry men gathered at the Legion Hall in Skidmore, MacLean writes. Obsessed with travel? Trena claimed to have seen someone pull a rifle from the back of the truck, take aim at McElroy, and fire shots that shattered the truck's windows. Once there, he threatened Bo, and shot him in the neck at close range with a shotgun. Then you can read about chilling cold cases where the murderers and victims were both unknown. You dont have a town full of people who were hiding a guilty conscience, he said. He was arrested, booked, arraigned, and released on $2,500 bail. He was accused or suspected of dozens of crimes, including theft, livestock rustling, burglary, arson, assault, rape, and child molestation. During the meeting, McElroy arrived at the D&G Tavern with Trena. Town Mute for 30 Years About a Bullys Killing, A lot of people were not happy about what happened, MacLean said. 1952: Ken McElroy marries his first wife Oleta. Ken Rex McElroy was shot dead inside his pick-up truck on the 10th of July, 1981, via a storm of bullets. The objective is to promote history on Medium and demonstrate the value of historical writing. The stories of McElroy's relationships contain some troubling details, but the information is important to paint the full picture. No one called for an ambulance. In court, Bowenkamp testified about how McElroy confronted him in the loading dock of the grocery while he was cutting up boxes and shot him in the neck. However, he was also charged with various crimes. The sheriff suggested they form a neighborhood watch and advised the group not to confront the man. Over the course of his life, McElroy was accused of dozens of felonies, including assault, child molestation, statutory rape, arson, animal cruelty, hog and cattle rustling, and burglary. A lot of them didnt even tell their wives and children. This past weekend marked the 40th anniversary of the killing of Ken Rex McElroy of Skidmore. document.getElementById( "ak_js_1" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() ); Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. McElroy started his pickup and the sound of shots pierced the silence. He was freed on bond. He dropped out of school at age 15 in the eighth grade and quickly established a local reputation as a cattle rustler, small-time thief, and womanizer. Trena McElroy accused Skidmore residents of turning her husband into a scapegoat. Boyer was out showing a trainee the ropes when he got the call of a shooting in Skidmore. We interviewed our tech expert, Jaime Vazquez, to learn more about accessible smart home devices. Local police, state investigators and FBI agents tried to break the towns silence, without success. Not only that, they recommended he spend no more than two years in prison. McElroys rear window was shot out and the front window as well. Everyone was keeping an eye on us. CHAPTER ONE. She eventually filed a wrongful death against the town, the county, and some citizens but the matter was settled out of court. He was shot at several times and hit twice, once by a centerfire rifle and once by a .22 rimfire rifle. Ken McElroy issues threats against the Bowenkamp family. 1998 - 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved. In the months before McElroy went to trial, the Bowenkamps and Sumy went to bed scared, woke up frightened and lived in terror with every breath. He grew up hearing the story. Reporting on what you care about. Evelyn tried to explain what had happened, that nobody had accused the children of stealing, and Trena said, Why would my effing daughter lie? . In Broad Daylight: A Murder in Skidmore, Missouri. Richard McFadin, 87, a lawyer, now retired, who represented Mr. McElroy in numerous cases and, after the killing, his widow, said he believed there was enough evidence for a prosecution. He would intimidate anyone who got in his way, usually by repeatedly harassing them or threatening them with a bullet. The group heard McElroy and Trena McCloud were spotted heading to the tavern nearby. The towns local bar in Skidmore, Missouri. YouTubeThe towns local bar in Skidmore, Missouri. The FBI entered the case stiff-arming and threatening people, is how Monte, the Bowenkamps daughter, relates it. Anyone can read what you share. The streak ended when a jury convicted Mr. McElroy of second-degree assault in the grocers shooting. In the plainspoken manner of speaking in Skidmore, McElroy simply needed killing, like a gangrened leg needs to be severed to save the whole body. Evelyn lived cross the street, and he made sure she could see them. Some people have attributed his strange behavior with this event. RELATED: 10 Of The Best Docuseries You Should Be Watching Now Each episode is around 40 minutes each and contains dramatic and intimate . Before you tell yourself the case closed, no, this case still remains unsolved. His lifelong career as a criminal started with petty offenses, but he increasingly became more violent, amassing a rap sheet that included nearly two dozen felony charges for assault, child molestation, statutory rape, arson, burglary, grain theft, and hog and cattle rustling enterprises that kept a thick roll of hundred-dollar bills in his pocket. We had shoplifting, but a lot of people were on hard times. Five or six of us were standing in front of the Skidmore Caf, waiting and passing the time. And Mr. Baird, all these years later, is still unwilling to give his own view on whether justice was served even though or because the killer was never tried. Absolutely not, he said. They delivered messages in code. Ken Rex McElroy (June 1, 1934 July 10, 1981) was an American criminal and convicted attempted murderer who resided in Skidmore, Missouri, United States. One of the people shot was a local farmer named Romaine Henry, who McElroy shot in the stomach for trying to chase him off of Henry's own land. His father was a tenant farmer, his mother a housewife swamped with feeding and caring for the sprawling family. Boyer was taking trajectory measurements at the crime scene when a town official chided him. As Ken McElroy sat in his truck, he was shot at several times. Heavy lids veiled cold, steel-blue eyes, making them look like half moons. Lessons from History is a platform for writers who share ideas and inspirational stories from world history. That became the pattern. Self care and ideas to help you live a healthier, happier life. What gave rise to that theory is that they were in the Legion hall for a meeting, then went down to the D&G [when they heard McElroy was in town]. The mere mention of his surname was enough to cause anxiety, if not full terror. April 25th, 1980: A few of Ken's children go to the local grocery store and is accused of stealing by Mrs. Bowenkamp. How could it? His father was a tenant farmer, his mother a housewife swamped with feeding and caring for the sprawling family. Tensions in Skidmore soared as McElroys trial neared. Mr. McElroy was quickly rearrested after he appeared in town with a rifle, but he was again released. McElroy was known to pay local kids for information about who was where in town at what time, so the Bowenkamps developed their own network of informants. According to a report, no one called an ambulance. 1969 or 1970: Ken McElroy becomes involved with a young girl named Trena McCloud. McElroy was hit twice by two different guns and died from injuries to his head and neck. Dozens of them gathered at Skidmores American Legion hall on the morning of July 10, 1981. The guns were never recovered. He was hit twice and died in his truck. What set off McElroy and put the local grocer in his crosshairs was the pettiest of offenses. No One Saw A Thing centers around the 1981 murder of Ken Rex McElroy in Skidmore Missouri and other crimes committed in the town and surrounding area over the years. You just didnt do that.. Women had a harder time with it than the men. He was charged 21 times in theft cases but was said to have avoided conviction through witness intimidation, either by direct confrontation or by parking his truck outside their home. McElroys wifewhom he victimized as a childremarried and moved to Lebanon, Missouri. They settle in Skidmore. Actually, I think those shooters saved lives in the end, she said. Get the Android Weather app from Google Play, Win a Midday Makeover from Studio STL and West County, Hold my beer its time to sign up for the St. Patricks, Tims Travels: Dreaming in silestone and slabs its, Downtown is turning green for St. Patricks Day Parade, The 7brew Crew brings kindness, joy and of course,, Freshen up finds: Give your skin a slug-hug, What the Cluck! But the silence of the townspeople held. McElroy sat outside the foster home for hours at a time staring at it. The grocer lived and McElroy was again arrested and charged with attempted murder. He then returned to Trena's parents' home when they were away and, once again, shot the family dog and burned the house down. It wasn't the kind of murder which goes unsolved for decades and eventually someone comes forward with the tip that breaks the case open. There may never be an answer to the question of who killed Ken Rex McElroy. McElroy began backing out too, then tailed Margaret until she radioed Richard and squad cars showed up. This is far from what happened in the case of McElroy. Two people decided in the midst of that whole incident theyd had enough, MacLean said. You could talk to everybody in this case, and theyd give you a different answer, he said in an interview at his office in the red brick county courthouse in nearby Maryville. Estes, the sheriff some tried to implicate in a conspiracy, is dead. McElroy four years earlier had pumped a couple of rounds of buckshot into the stomach of local farmer Romaine Henry as he tried to run the blackguard off his land. If we could have proved who done it, he would have prosecuted him, said Mr. Riddle, 72 and also retired, who describes the case as the most frustrating of his career. That was the last straw, MacLean said. In Broad Daylight by Harry N. MacLean / Via. The courts would not help us or Skidmore. For more than two decades, McElroy was suspected of being involved in theft of grain, gasoline, alcohol, antiques, and livestock, but he avoided conviction when charges were brought against him 21 timesoften after witnesses refused to testify because he allegedly intimidated them, frequently by following his targets or parking outside their homes and watching them. He was sure it was Mr. McElroy who had done the shooting. They were witnesses. 1952: Ken McElroy marries his first wife Oleta. He dropped out of school before he reached high school, and by 13 was already a familiar character to the cops around Nodaway County. The people of the town keep their heads down and prefer to not speak about the incident. A man who turned out to be McElroy pointed a shotgun at me, Margaret tells A&E True Crime. As many as 60 Skidmore residents attended, including the mayor and the sheriff. If your child will play baseball or softball this spring, youll need to stock up on appropriate clothing and equipment. He was very cunning, MacLean told Patch. He quit.. About Press Copyright Contact us Creators Advertise Developers Terms Privacy Policy & Safety How YouTube works Test new features NFL Sunday Ticket Press Copyright . 1 or 2 men (unclear) took guns and shot Ken Rex McElroy dead in his truck. Ken McElroy was shot to death on the main street of Skidmore in July 1981, in front of 45 witnesses. [1][3] The next day, McElroy was shot to death in broad daylight as he sat with his wife Trena in his pickup truck on Skidmore's main street. Somebody would hear his name, and the legend grew bigger. After McElroy fired a gun outside her house, Evelyn Sumy appealed to Dave Dunbar, the town marshal. He believes one of the gunmen was the suspect named by the widow. Hed leave, then hed come back, Monte said. Skidmore townsfolk may not all have liked how he was killed it was murder, after all but when he died, most of the towns 435 residents let out a heavy sigh of relief. Still working within the justice system, witnesses who saw McElroy with the gun gave the information the county prosecutor needed to request a bond revocation hearing. And its likely to stay that way. In April 1980, Trena McElroy told her husband a clerk in the Bowenkamps store had accused their 4-year-old daughter of stealing penny candy. As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. On July 10, 1981, Ken Rex McElroy was killed in one of the strangest instances investigators ever saw. I got in the car and was shaking so bad.. He divorces Oleta and marries Sharon to get out of a chargeof assault after shooting Sharon during an argument. Weighing in at approximately 270 pounds with bushy black sideburns, McElroy held the entire . In 1980, after a misunderstanding about a candy purchase from a Skidmore grocery store involving McElroys daughters, McElroy shot popular owner Bo Bowenkamp in the neck. He said that Mr. Baird pushed aggressively to bring a case to trial, but that investigators were never able to secure enough evidence to charge someone with a crime. Just months after Mr. Baird became county prosecutor a post he was encouraged to take because nothing exciting ever happens in Nodaway County he found himself in a courtroom for the first time with Mr. McElroy, who had shot an elderly Skidmore grocer in the neck with a shotgun. As a result, he was arrested, but quickly released. Over the course of his life, McElroy was accused of dozens of felonies, including assault, child molestation, statutory rape, arson, hog and cattle rustling, and burglary. How did this uneducated person how is he able to outwit the criminal justice system for 20 years? said MacLean. Perversely, the towns share of tragedy has grown. Charismatic, with jet-black hair and piercing eyes, McElroy could sweet-talk his way around women and had been married three times by his early 40s. The town got away with murder, Mr. McFadin said. June 16th, 1934: Ken Rex McElroy is born to Mabel and Tony McElroy, the thirteenth out of fourteen children. If you were to go to Skidmore today, there isn't much to see. No one was surprised. The death of Ken Rex McElroy is a perplexing case that has hung heavy over the town of Skidmore, Missouri for decades. Watch the new and 7th season of BuzzFeed Unsolved: True Crime! The McElroys eventually left the store, but when Bowenkamp closed up that night, he was outside, waiting. Genealogy profile for Ken Rex McElroy Ken Rex McElroy (1934 - 1981) - Genealogy Genealogy for Ken Rex McElroy (1934 - 1981) family tree on Geni, with over 230 million profiles of ancestors and living relatives. Ken Rex McElroy, a notoriously brutal man who had terrorized Skidmore, Mo., for years, was killed in 1981. Bottles, glasses for restaurants and barsincomible/Getty ImagesFull of Audienceuschools/Getty ImagesAn American police officer posing arms folded beside cop carDarrenMower/Getty ImagesCar Wash Truck SprayA-Digit/Getty ImagesCity People Setedge69/Getty ImagesSilhouette of people in action4x6/Getty ImagesCaucasian farmer standing in irrigated fieldHill Street Studios/Getty ImagesYoung woman on the streetSensorSpot/Getty ImagesShot Truck Driverwwing/Getty ImagesOlder Caucasian man standing with hands in pocketsSam Diephuis/Getty ImagesOutlines of rebellionsshironosov/Getty Imagesmain street remote rural prairie towndlerick/Getty ImagesBlank magazine on wooden backgroundgrinvalds/Getty ImagesEmpty Country Road In UsaDan Thornberg / EyeEm/Getty ImagesCaucasian farmer wearing gloves leaning on wooden fenceSteve Smith/Getty ImagesJudge holding gavel in courtroomChris Ryan/Getty ImagesAuthentic Cowboy Rancher Portraitavid_creative/Getty ImagesSilhouettes of three cowboys on a white backgroundheartbar/Getty ImagesCaucasian security officers posing with flashlightKirk Marsh/Getty ImagesPrivate investigator reports what he seestzahiV/Getty ImagesThis farm is my pride and joypixdeluxe/Getty Imagesdark portrait of a man in a hoodserikbaib/Getty ImagesWhite colored house with blue doorMableen/Getty ImagesYoung couple havi EXTERNAL CREDITSGrant Henderson - Editor+Rick Weller- GFX Artist Investigators found shell casings from two weapons a .22-caliber Magnum rifle and an 8 mm Mauser, a German World War I-era long-range rifle. [1] To date, no one has been charged in connection with McElroy's death. The story of Ken Rex McElroy began on June 1, 1934. He was known as the town bully , but they may be putting it mildly. The son of a bitch would just as soon shoot them as anyone else.. Despite being shot in broad daylight in front of various witnesses, the . Then McElroy, described by veteran journalist Phil Conger as a big brute of a guy with slicked-back hair like Elvis, took the stand. 1958: Ken McElroy becomes involved with a young woman named Sharon. The rumor was that he had drowned her father in a bathtub when he had objected to what he was doing to his daughter. 7 Good News Stories: Sense Of Belonging; Secrets To 70-Year Marriage, EPA Limits On Toxic Forever Chemicals Could Cost Utilities Billions, The Poop On Free-Range Cats And Your Lawn And Garden [Block Talk], Boeing Worker Claims $754.6M Powerball Jackpot, Barrier-Breaking Black Army Officer Finally Awarded Medal Of Honor, FL Blogging Bill Says Political Writers Should Register With State. When Daylight Saving Time 2023 Begins, Will It Be For The Last Time. Part of his teeth were lying on the dashboard, Boyer recalls. McElroys wife was not injured and escaped the vehicle. There were as many as 60 witnesses, yet the crime remains unsolved. There was a kind of silent charity on the part of my parents, and they never prosecuted. Vigilante justice, or. Lessons from History is a platform for writers who share ideas and inspirational stories from world history. 2023 by Catlyn Brady, Jennifer Partridge, & Kara Severson. He didnt have a bank account, didnt have a Social Security number, he didnt read. Those in attendance felt the system had failed them, and it seemed like none of the authorities could stop McElroy. McElory was struck by two different firearms and died behind the wheel of his truck. [12] The DA declined to press charges. Once freed, McElroy didnt just quietly celebrate his victory. Theoretically, [the murder] could be re-investigated, veteran Kansas City criminal defense attorney J.R. Hobbs tells A&E True Crime. McElroy divorced Alice and married Trena in order to escape charges of statutory rape, to which she was the only witness. There has been books written, movies, documentaries and more made about the killing. Despite three grand juries, no one has been indicted for the . A swarthy, physically intimidating man who carried about 270 pounds on his more than 6-foot frame, McElroy had thick black eyebrows and bushy sideburns. Vigilante justice is certainly a slippery slope, but after years of dealing with Ken McElroy, the people of Skidmore reached their boiling point. It was a misunderstanding, but one that made the Bowenkamps lives a living hell for months. He showed up to the towns local bar, armed with a rifle and bayonet, threatening to kill the elderly grocer. Known as 'the town bully', his unsolved killing became the focus of international attention. His hunch paid off, and McElroy found himself handcuffed and charged with assault. Ken had 13 siblings: Hershell Eugene McElroy, Orvil O McElroy and 11 . On July 10, 1981, Ken Rex McElroy was killed in one of the strangest instances investigators ever saw. Yet the identity of McElroys killer is a public secret Skidmore has kept for 38 years. [6], Based on Trena's story, McElroy was indicted in June 1973 for arson, assault, and statutory rape. Anywhere from 30 to 90 people watched the 47-year-old McElroy die in an act that ended his decade-long reign of terror over the people of Skidmore. Those who witnessed the killing didnt speak of it again, not because they were part of a conspiracy, MacLean believes, but because theyre stoic by nature. After dropping out of school in the eighth grade, it didn't take long for Ken McElroy to fall into a life of delinquency. I think its something thats going to define this town forever.. The police chief who oversaw the investigation, Hal Riddle, disagrees. For example, one of the owners of the D&G tavern would send her young children to the grocery store for paper towels, keeping the children innocently unaware they were telegraphing an urgent message for the Bowenkamps to call the police. Nobody called an ambulance. Buzzfeeds Unsolved Network produced a 24-minute true crime documentary on the shooting. As he sat drinking at the bar, word got back to the men at the Legion Hall that he was in town. Both Sally and Sharon begin having Ken's children. He was punctual, always said he didnt do it, paid in cash and kept coming back.. A writer and storyteller out in the world to write about True-Crime and History. Author Harry MacLean wrote a book McElroys story called In Broad Daylight. Ken Rex McElroy was an American known as "the town bully" of Skidmore, Missouri. McElroy first began his relationship with McCloud when she was 14 and the two had a child shortly thereafter. Tell us what you think in the comments below. He had been terrorizing Skidmore for years and he kept getting away with it. Anticipating McElroys typical moves, Stratton waited on a back road near the Kansas border. But in a dramatic act of . Retribution was slow coming to Ken McElroybut lightning fast when it happened. Born in 1934, Ken Rex McElroy was a resident of Skidmore, Missouri. This six-episode true-crime docuseries comes from Sundance TV and premiered last August. For over twenty years he raped, robbed and burned almost at will. A girl from a poor, rural family, McElroy had begun having sex with her when she was barely fourteen. In all, he was indicted 21 times but escaped conviction each time, except for the last. His last wife, Trena, became pregnant with their first child at age 14. McElroy and Trena returned to the truck, where he lit a cigarette while she was in the passenger seat. A conviction should have been a victory for the people of Skidmore, but the jury set a maximum sentence of two years, and the judge, without protest from Mr. Baird, released Mr. McElroy on bond pending appeal. He reportedly began stalking the Bowenkamp family. In the summer of 1981, a jury handed McElroy his first-ever felony conviction for the lesser charge of second-degree assault. Many buildings are closed and falling apart. When the news that Ken and Trena went to the local bar that evening, everyone got up and made their way over.

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