November 14, 2019 by Natalie DeGroot in Unsolved Murders
The murder of Ken Rex McElroy isn’t ‘unsolved’ in the typical sense of the word. 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. This is far from what happened in the case of McElroy. In fact, anywhere between thirty and ninety people witnessed the shooting of the 270lb brute of a man on that hot July day in 1981.
Someone saw something.
But not one person has come forward. A pact of silence was made between the witnesses. The truth is that the people of Skidmore, Missouri, were sick and tired of living their lives in fear under tyrannical reign of Ken McElroy, which by then had stretched over two decades. Someone had to put an end to it. And that’s exactly what they did.
Who was Ken Rex McElroy?
Born in Overland Park, Kansas, on June 1, 1934, McElroy was the fifteenth of Tony and Mabel McElroy’s sixteen children. The McElroys never had any money. They worked as sharecroppers and moved often before settling in Skidmore.
The children had little parental supervision, and for the most part ran free around town. McElroy dropped out of school in the eighth grade. It was widely reported that he was illiterate, but he did not let this hold him back from getting what he wanted in life.
Not long after leaving school, McElroy sustained a head injury when he fell from a hay wagon. It was reportedly so severe that he needed a steel plate implanted in his head. Many speculate that this traumatic injury was a cause of his volatility and aggression later in life.
By his teens, McElroy became known as the ‘town bully’ of Skidmore, notorious for his cruel treatment of anyone who dared challenge him. He ruled with an iron fist, inciting fear and causing a persistent sense of dread amongst townsfolk.
The Ultimate Intimidator
On leaving school (and likely even before) McElroy began stealing items such as antiques, alcohol, grain and gasoline. He would often be spotted hunting racoons and was notorious for rustling hogs and cattle in the small farming community.
It wasn’t long before he became a violent menace, his more serious crimes including rape, assault and child molestation. As a result, he was no stranger to the Nodaway County Sheriff’s Dept.
To describe McElroy as intimidating is putting it lightly. Each time anyone brought charges against him (which happened a total of twenty-one times), he would intimidate his accusers into dropping the charges, leaving them terrified and fearing for their lives.
His favored methods of intimidation included approaching people, hissing threats at them and shoving his shotgun in their faces. He would also follow them home, sit outside in his truck and stare at them with his dark, sinister gaze for hours on end.
One time, a farmer named Romaine Henry caught McElroy trespassing on his property and attempted to chase him off. Instead of leaving, McElroy turned around and shot Henry in the stomach with his shotgun. Henry survived, and unlike the majority of McElroy’s other victims, actually went on to testify in court against him. Being shot in the stomach wasn’t enough though. McElroy was acquitted, thanks to his talented attorney. Many speculate that McElroy also threatened the jury.
There is no denying that McElroy was a skilled criminal; his long career of breaking the law resulted in pockets permanently stuffed with $100 bills. Much of his cash, however, went to Richard Gene McFadin, his lawyer. McFadin was a highly skilled attorney who got McElroy off the hook time and time again.
The more McElroy got away with, the more it seemed as though he was exempt from the law. The townspeople resented the constant feeling of anxiety McElroy’s presence left them with. But even more frustrating was the ineptitude of law enforcement in their handling of the monster that terrorized them day in and day out.
The Many Wives of Ken McElroy
Brace yourselves. This part is a rollercoaster.
McElroy pretty much got whatever he wanted, and women were no exception. However, most of his sexual affairs weren’t with women, but rather underage girls, with whom he collectively had at least ten children.
As far as I could find, McElroy was married three times. His first wife, Sharon, was fifteen when they met, while McElroy was at least twenty. McElroy was hardly a loving husband and regularly beat Sharon. Eventually, Sharon and McElroy had two children. By the time their second child was born, McElroy found another girlfriend, Sally, who was only thirteen, while Ken was around twenty-seven. McElroy moved Sally onto the family farm with Sharon and their two children. Sally had three children with McElroy and Sharon had another two.
McElroy soon bored of Sharon, Sally and his seven children, and found another underage girl, Alice Wood, who is widely referred to as McElroy’s second wife. McElroy moved out of his family home to be with Alice, but this relationship was no different from his previous ones. He abused Alice verbally and physically, and when she gave birth to their son, she moved out to live with her mother and stepfather In St Joseph, the next town over from Skidmore.
Enraged by Alice leaving with his son, McElroy called the home and began threatening Alice and her family. He told them he was coming to pick up his son, and if anyone tried to stop him, he would kill them. Alice’s stepfather, in so many words, told McElroy to shove it. McElroy drove to the house and shot him in the leg through his living room window.
McElroy was arrested on assault charges, but Alice’s stepfather would need to testify. In order to stop him from doing so, McElroy carried on with his usual scare tactics – he told him he would kill his entire family if he testified, followed him and sat outside his house for hours. Eventually, after an altercation at a bar during which McElroy threatened him with a shotgun, Alice’s stepfather dropped the assault charges.
Even after all that had happened between McElroy and her family, Alice moved back into the McElroy family home with her son. To welcome her back, McElroy had found yet another girlfriend, Trena McCloud, who was twelve years old, while McElroy would have been around thirty-five. When she was fourteen, Trena got pregnant. After giving birth, Trena and Alice, exhausted from living in constant fear of McElroy, took their children and left the McElroy farm to live with Trena’s parents.
Needless to say, McElroy was having none of this. He went to Trena’s parents home, where he viciously beat Trena and Alice, then burned the McCloud house to the ground. He forced the two women and the children into his truck and drove them back to the farmhouse.
Trena had to go to hospital for the injuries she had suffered at the hands of McElroy. The doctor who treated her was appalled and called child services. Trena was admitted into foster care with her son.
McElroy was charged with arson, rape and brandishing a deadly weapon. His lawyer managed to delay the process for so long, however, that Trena, who was still a child and very naïve, got bored of foster care and ran away. She went right back to the McElroy farmhouse with her son. McElroy got a divorce from Sharon (or Alice, honestly I’m not sure who he was married to at the time) and married Trena so that she would not be compelled to testify against him. She ended up dropping the charges.
Ernst "Bo" Bowenkamp
In April 1980, two of McElroy’s daughters were shopping at a local corner store. The older daughter paid for her items, but as they were leaving, the younger daughter grabbed some candy out of a jar and headed for the door. A clerk saw what happened and warned the girl that she better return the candy or pay for it. The older girl snatched the candy from the younger girl, threw it back in the jar, grabbed her little sister’s hand and barged out the door.
The clerk thought nothing more of it, until Ken and Trena McElroy showed up. Both were fuming over the seemingly insignificant incident. Of course, McElroy had a gun. Trena, who was twenty-three by this time, began yelling at the clerk, which drew the attention of the store’s owners, Ernst and Lois Bowenkamp. The two came out from the back of the store, also becoming subject to the couple’s ranting. Lois soon became fed up and told the McElroys to leave the store and never come back.
They left, but for McElroy, it wasn’t over. The Bowenkamps became the new objects of McElroy’s intimidation scheme. He would sit outside of their house in his truck for hours in the evening. A couple of times, he got out of the truck and fired his shotgun into the air - all this over a couple pieces of candy. The Bowenkamps, who were in their early seventies at the time, tried their best to carry on with life as normal. But having this thug with serious rage issues breathing down their necks 24/7 meant it wasn’t easy. Then one day, McElroy drove to the corner store, found Bo Bowenkamp around the back, and shot him in the neck.
Bo survived, McElroy was arrested…but he got out on bail, and began harassing the officer who arrested him, Richard Stratton. This went on for months, thanks to his trial being subject to constant delays. McElroy swaggered around town as he always did and sat drinking for hours at his usual haunt, the D&G Tavern.
For the first time in his life, McElroy was actually convicted of a crime. However, the outcome of the conviction was a slap in the face for Bo and Lois Bowenkamp. His conviction was for second-degree assault and he was sentenced to just two years - for shooting someone in the neck.
Skidmore residents were pleased that (some) justice was finally being served. But of course, McElroy filed an appeal of his conviction, and was let out on $40,000 bond while his appeal was pending. This was a punch in the gut to everybody in Skidmore. The justice system had failed them once again.
Out For Revenge
On his release, McElroy strolled into the D&G Tavern, holding a rifle with a bayonet attached. Despite his conviction, he was still the arrogant goon he had always been. He waved the gun around inside the tavern, proclaiming that he was going to finish off Bo Bowenkamp. Several patrons witnessed McElroy’s display at the tavern and called the prosecutor, who revoked McElroy’s bail. A hearing was scheduled, in which the witnesses would testify that they had seen McElroy in the bar in possession of a loaded weapon.
Then, on July 9 1981, Richard McFadin got the hearing delayed for two weeks. This is when the rage amongst locals reached boiling point. Close to fifty of them had come together and made a plan to protect the witnesses who were going to testify against McElroy. Now that the hearing had been delayed, and McElroy no doubt knew who the witnesses were, the entire town felt a sense of impending doom about what was to come.
The next morning, people gathered once again, this time at the American Legion hall located across the street from the D&G Tavern. The plan was to discuss how they were going to protect themselves from McElroy for the next two weeks until the hearing. The authorities had let them down, so they had no choice but to take matters into their own hands.
While the meeting was going on, McElroy was back in the D&G Tavern drinking with Trena. When the meeting ended, the group made their way across the street to the tavern to confront McElroy. They felt a sense of safety in numbers.
Around forty of them stood outside, while another twenty crowded into the small tavern. They surrounded McElroy, shouting at him that they had had enough and that his days were numbered.
McElroy and Trena got up without saying a word, pushing their way through the crowd towards the exit. The group outside the tavern had grown and began jeering as they saw the couple emerge from the tavern. McElroy and Trena got into their truck. Before driving away, McElroy stopped to light a cigarette.
Just as he was taking his first drag, the sound of two gunshots rang out. The truck’s windows were shattered; at least one of the bullets hit McElroy in the back of the head. Blood covered the inside of the vehicle, as well as Trena, who was sitting in the passenger seat. McElroy slumped forward onto the steering wheel.
Somebody opened the passenger door and pulled Trena out of the truck and into another building nearby. She was in shock but not physically injured.
No one called an ambulance. McElroy died at the scene, surrounded by the people he had terrorised for decades. It would naïve to say they did not feel a sense of collective relief.
“We Needed Your Help All This Time”
Harry MacLean, author of the award winning book In Broad Daylight about the McElroy case, spent several years living in Skidmore, interviewing those who were there that day. From talking to witnesses, he concluded that the killing of McElroy was not planned.
MacLean told Inside Edition: “Whatever had been done might not be morally right, but he needed killing. Not a one of 'em felt sorry for him. Not one of them felt bad. Somebody was going to get killed. It was either going to be him, or somebody else.”
Investigators never got anyone to confess or give information about who had fired the lethal shot. Unsurprisingly, Skidmore residents were upset by the police presence in town. Why were they diligently carrying out this investigation into the killing of the man who had made their lives miserable for so long? One man said to an officer examining the scene: “What are you doing here? Why are you doing this? You know what he was like. You know how he oppressed and threatened us. I don’t believe you’re coming now—after we needed your help all this time.”
Trena was the only person to come forward to investigators about who she believed had killer her husband. She had seen a man named Del Clement (the co-owner of the D&G Tavern) standing across the street with a rifle, at which point she told Ken they needed to get out of there because he was going to get shot. But it was too late. No one else corroborated Trena’s story. Del Clement has since died, and he never confessed. It is widely accepted that he fired one of the guns that shot McElroy. Secretly, Skidmore was extremely thankful to him.
Trena moved away from Skidmore, remarried and had more children. She died of cancer in 2012 at the age of just 55.
Ken Rex McElroy was buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in St Joseph, Missouri. He was 47 years old. On his tombstone are the words: ‘brave, fearless and compassionate’. I have a feeling his neighbors would have described him somewhat differently.
In Broad Daylight – Harry MacLean
Richard Stratton reflects on capturing notorious thug Ken Rex McElroy
13 Things About Ken McElroy's Shooting You Need To Know Before Watching 'No One Saw A Thing'
Thinking Sideways Podcast – Ken McElroy
To the Killer of Her Least Favorite Son, Skidmore, Mo. Says a Long, Silent Thank-You
Unsolved 'Vigilante' Murder in the Heartland: Missouri Town Goes Quiet After Bully Is Shot
The Unsolved Murder of Missouri Town Bully Ken Rex McElroy: 'No One Saw a Thing'
What is Skidmore on Netflix? ›
Known as the town bully, Ken Rex McElroy terrorized tiny Skidmore, Missouri for decades. Then on July 10, 1981, the town had enough. Over 60 people surrounded his pickup truck and shot him dead on Main Street-but no one claimed to see a thing.Is Trina McElroy still alive? › Is there a movie about Skidmore? ›
In Broad Daylight is a 1991 American made-for-television thriller drama film about the life of Ken McElroy, the town bully of Skidmore, Missouri who became known for his unsolved murder. McElroy was fictionalized as the character Len Rowan, portrayed by Brian Dennehy.Is no one saw a thing based on a true story? ›
Ken Rex McElroy terrorized the town of Skidmore, Missouri, for decades. On July 10, 1981, 60 townspeople surrounded his truck and shot him dead. The shocking circumstances of his murder garnered international attention.Who was the bully of Skidmore MO? ›
Ken Rex McElroy (June 1, 1934 – July 10, 1981) was an American criminal and convicted attempted murderer who resided in Skidmore, Missouri, United States. He was known as "the town bully", and his unsolved killing became the focus of international attention.Who was the bully of Skidmore Missouri? ›
Known as the town bully, Ken Rex McElroy terrorized tiny Skidmore, Missouri for decades. Then on July 10, 1981, the town had enough. Over 60 people surrounded his pickup truck and shot him dead on Main Street-but no one claimed to see a thing.What town is mute for 30 years about a bully's killing? ›
SKIDMORE, Mo. — The murder of Ken Rex McElroy took place in plain view of dozens of residents of this small farm town, under the glare of the morning sun. But in a dramatic act of solidarity with the gunman, every witness, save the dead man's wife, denied seeing who had pulled the trigger.How old was Ken Rex McElroy when he died? › Where can I watch nobody saw a thing? ›
No One Saw a Thing, a documentary series is available to stream now. Watch it on The Roku Channel or Spectrum TV on your Roku device.Is there an 8th Saw movie? ›
Jigsaw is a 2017 American horror film directed by the Spierig Brothers and written by Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger. It is the eighth installment in the Saw film series and stars Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, Clé Bennett, and Hannah Emily Anderson.
Is below the fold movie based on a true story? ›
The plot in “Below the Fold” is fictional, but several other, strange crimes that took place in Skidmore are not.What is the true story of in broad daylight? ›
In Broad Daylight: A Murder in Skidmore, Missouri details the case of Ken Rex McElroy and his 21-year reign of terror throughout four counties in northwest Missouri, and the ultimate murder of McElroy, who was shot to death as he sat in his pickup truck on the main street of the town.Is no one saw a thing a movie? ›
No One Saw a Thing is an American documentary television series that was first shown on SundanceTV on August 1, 2019.When was no one saw a thing made? ›
No One Saw a Thing (2019)How big is Skidmore Missouri? › Who was the woman murdered in Skidmore Missouri? ›
Bobbie Jo Stinnett (December 4, 1981 – December 16, 2004) was an American 23-year-old pregnant woman who was murdered in Skidmore, Missouri in December 2004. The perpetrator, Lisa Marie Montgomery, then aged 36-years-old, strangled Stinnett to death and cut her fetus (eight months into gestation) from her womb.Who Shot Tim KONI? ›
Who killed Tim Kono? The murderer was a woman named Jan, a classical bassoonist who was sleeping with Tim and killed him after they broke up.Where was McElroy killed? › What happened to Wayne Nance? ›
Wayne Nathan Nance (October 18, 1955 – September 4, 1986), also known as The Missoula Mauler, was an American serial killer in the state of Montana. Nance was shot and killed while committing a home invasion of a co-worker's residence; thus, Nance was never formally charged, tried, or convicted of any murder.What did William Beasley Do? ›
PAINESVILLE, Ohio (WOIO/Gray News) – A father found guilty of killing his infant son was sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole after 15 years. William Beasley was convicted of murder, involuntary manslaughter and two counts of endangering children.
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Christopher Koran O'Neal, 16, and Kevin Trevon Williams, 17, both of Jacksonville, have been charged with murder in the shooting death of Carl Starke (pictured above). Police said Starke was spotted at a Walmart by O'Neal and Williams and was followed to his condo complex, because they wanted to steal his car.What is the movie about the bully getting killed in Missouri? ›
Storyline. After terrorizing the people of Nodaway County and repeatedly escaping justice for years, the town bully finally meets his demise at the hands of the townspeople of Skidmore, Missouri. Immediately, law enforcement at all levels mount an intense investigation to find and arrest the shooters.Where is Ken Rex McElroy buried? › Who is Danielle with Ken McElroy? ›
Joining us is the lovely Danille McElroy, a real estate investor, entrepreneur, and co-host of The Ken McElroy Show! She'll be sharing her journey of how she started from nothing before scaling herself above and beyond!Who founded Skidmore Missouri? ›
Founder: Marteny Skidmore
Marteny Skidmore was born May 25, 1825 in Randolph County, Virginia. He was the son of Thomas Skidmore Jr and Mary Kettle. At the age of 15, he began freighting on the Ohio River.
Watch all you want. Bob Odenkirk of "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" stars in this darkly comic twist on action revenge thrillers.Is nobody on Netflix or prime? ›
Nobody, a comedy movie starring Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielsen, and Alexey Serebryakov is available to stream now. Watch it on Free Movies & TV with Rewarded TV, HBO Max, Spectrum TV, The Roku Channel, ROW8, Prime Video, Apple TV, Redbox. or Vudu on your Roku device.Is nobody on HBO? ›
How to Watch Nobody. Right now you can watch Nobody on HBO Max. You are able to stream Nobody by renting or purchasing on Vudu, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, and iTunes.Will there be a 10 Saw movie? ›
His performance as John Kramer is part of the magic that made this franchise a phenomenon and his character is an active part of this film." Saw 10 will be released on October 27, 2023.How did Jigsaw end? ›
Only at the end of the film is it revealed that the Jigsaw Killer is a terminal cancer patient of Lawrence's named John Kramer, who spent the entire time posing as a corpse on the floor of the bathroom Adam and Lawrence were trapped in.
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- Saw (2004) #1 Scariest Saw Movie. ...
- Saw II (2005) 2nd Scariest. ...
- Jigsaw (2017) 3rd Scariest. ...
- Saw III (2006) 4th Scariest. ...
- Saw IV (2007) 5th Scariest. ...
- Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010) 6th Scariest. ...
- Saw V (2008) 7th Scariest. ...
- Saw VI (2009) 8th Scariest.
By the end of the story, without spoiling too much, the only true closure we receive is that of David and Lisa's past together. The heroes of our story aren't as heroic as they hope to be; they're convinced of their suspect's guilt, but don't have anything to back it up.How historically accurate is as above so below? ›
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He is an exoskeleton that has been designed as a Venus flytrap. Although the exoskeleton is the same, the algorithm changes for each one. One of them is a scientist and kind of nerdy.Is the kidnapping in broad daylight based on a true story? ›
It is based on the real-life kidnapping of Nebraska teenager Anne Sluti, who was abducted and held for six days in April 2001 by Anthony Steven Wright, also known as Tony Zappa. Wright was later sentenced to life for the Sluti abduction.Is Jordan in broad daylight a true story? ›
In TV One's Original Film, In Broad Daylight, actress Chyna Layne tells the real-life story of Jordan Boudreaux, a young mother was abducted and terrorized by her ex-boyfriend. While many stories that center around domestic violence and abuse do not have happy endings–Boudreaux's story is different.What are the missing in broad daylight? ›
We are missing shining streams, as if they are full of stars in broad daylight. Was this answer helpful?Does it matter if you watch the Saw movies in order? ›
You should watch it in the chronological order. The highly suggested way to watch them is in chronological order (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) and Jigsaw if you want. There can be other ways to watch them though. The Saw series is actually quite convoluted, and a lot of events are shown out of order.Which scary movie is a parody of Saw? ›
Bury the grudge. Burn the village. See the saw. Scary Movie 4 is a 2006 parody film.Is it important to watch the Saw movies in order? ›
Let it be said: watching the Saw movies in chronological order isn't advised, as it requires a lot of stop-start viewing and flicking between each one. Nevertheless – for the moviegoing sadists out there – here's the barebones order, before we dig into the specifics: Jigsaw.
Was Skidmore all female? ›
History. Skidmore College has undergone many transformations since its founding in the early 20th century as a women's college.Is Skidmore a hidden ivy? ›
Many of the Hidden Ivies are pretty small, meaning you can expect to have a more intimate learning experience. Some of the Hidden Ivies with the lowest recent student-to-faculty ratios are Pomona College, the University of Richmond, Skidmore College, and Vassar College.Is Skidmore a top school? ›
Skidmore College is ranked #39 out of 210 National Liberal Arts Colleges. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence. Read more about how we rank schools.What is hidden in plain sight about on Netflix? ›
A documentary about the mental health crisis among youth in America.How many episodes of nobody saw a thing are there? ›
Production. On February 27, 2018, it was announced that SundanceTV had given a six-episode series order to No One Saw a Thing, a new documentary television series directed by Avi Belkin. The series was executive produced by Belkin, Alexandra Shiva, Jason Blum, Jeremy Gold, and Marci Wiseman.What true story is In Plain Sight based on? ›
In Plain Sight is a Scottish television drama series covering the crimes committed by serial killer Peter Manuel in Lanarkshire, Scotland in the 1950s. The three-part series was first broadcast on ITV on 7 December 2016.What Netflix movie is based on a true story kidnapping? ›
'The Stranger' on Netflix: The True Story That Inspired the Unsettling Thriller. The suspenseful movie is based on the complex real-life scheme to finally snare the perpetrator in a high-profile child abduction case.Is Hidden in Plain Sight Based on a true story? ›
HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: The Incredible True Story of a German-Jewish Teenager's Struggle to Survive in Nazi-Occupied Poland.Is the movie Nobody inappropriate? ›
Brutal and gory. Overall the violence is extremely bloody and gory while also appearing in fast paced action sequences which can be related to John Wick and even a more adult version of Home Alone. LANGUAGE: Around 38 uses of “f*ck” and “motherf*cker” along with use of other milder swears. DRUG USE: Little to none.Is nobody 2 coming out? ›
So far, no release date for Nobody 2 has been revealed. However, producer Kelly McCormick did give an update on the timeline. She told Collider: "We hope to make it next year, so fingers crossed." If filming takes place in 2023, we could be looking at an early 2024 release date — but again, this is entirely guesswork.
Did the movie Nobody flop? ›
Nobody grossed $27.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $29.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $57.5 million, against a production budget of $16 million.