September 15, 2009
NO DEATH BED CONFESSION
Trena McElroy was sitting next to her husband, Ken Rex, in his Chevy Silverado when rifle shots shattered the rear window and exploded her husband’s head onto the dashboard. That was July 9, 1981, and Trena claimed that just before the shots were fired she looked over her shoulder and saw a local cowboy pull a rifle from her pickup and take aim at Ken. She swore to the law and three grand juries that the man on the 30.30 was Del Clement, a member of a prominent ranching family.
When I first traveled to Skidmore in 1982, the first name I heard as the shooter was Del Clement. Over the years I spent there researching “In Broad Daylight” I never heard another name seriously mentioned as the rifleman. Del, a short man with a chip on his shoulder and a hot temper, wore a cowboy hat and drank heavily. It wasn’t hard to imagine him jerking the gun from his pickup in a burst of anger and opening up on the large black head on the other side of the rear window of the pickup. He and his brother owned the D & G Tavern, in front of which McElroy was parked when he died and which had recently begun closing whenever he came to town.
A few years after the book came out, I encountered Del one evening in a bar in nearby Maryville. He was drunk and became outright hostile to me. He pointed out all the untrue facts in the book—such as that he was short—and seemed on the verge of throwing a punch, until a friend stepped in.
There has been no prosecution in the death of Ken Rex McElroy. Some of the witnesses to the crime left town, and as time wore on a few of them died. The only hope for solving the crime seemed to be that one of the witnesses, or maybe one of the killers, would confess on his deathbed in order to clear his conscience. Such evidence is allowed into courts of law as an exception to the hearsay rule on the theory that someone on his deathbed would have no reason to lie.
Del Clement died of liver disease this last spring. He always denied any role in the killing. Dying of sclerosis of the liver is a slow process; it allows the person time to reflect on his life, to prepare to meet his maker. Del Clement died without a word about who shot Ken McElroy.
If in fact Del Clement was the shooter, I was curious as to why he would have shot McElroy. Was McElroy harassing him or something? I don’t remember any stories about him harassing the Clements in the book.
McElroy was supposedly harassing the Clements at their ranch, threatening to shoot their horses, parking alongside the pasture, draping a rifle out the window. Del and his brother Greg also owned the only tavern in town, the D and G, for Del and Greg, and McElroy was famous for driving away customers. People would leave when they heard McElroy was in town. It was somehow fitting, therefor, that McElroy was shot sitting in his pickup in front of the D & G.
Your all wrong. I was 10 years old and saw the whole thing. Yes it was 2 men they were relations to eachother but the one who shot him was visiting at the time.He is dead now of prostate cancer about 10 years or more. He was a Korean war vet. It was a crime of opportunity he was having some beers and hearing stories about Rex over the years. Rex was starting trouble and was holding a rifle so the shooter came out and confronted Rex annd said put the gun down and lets see how tough you are without it fat boy. Rex said fuck you your dead as he walked to his truck he said its no even loaded but wont be for long. Then the shooter and his cousin ran to there truck pulled there rifles out then my mom grabed me by the wrist pulled me inside and heard a few shots sounded like a few from a 22 caliber then one big really loud shot id say a hunting rifle from my shooting experience. but the shooters are dead now and wives. Nothing will ever happen because everyone hated him and the towns people would say the shooters were not there to the law anyways. Maybe in 30 or more years you will know there names but i won’t be saying because there is still a lot of Mcelroy decents around these parts. Yes some little crazy some very good folk. Thats all i have to say about that.
Too bad Skidmore closed the only Discipline and Grammar school in town when McElroy bullied the town. Woulda, coulda, shoulda done some yung folk sum good.
It’s what someone says, not how they say it.
And that’s kind of bullying as well. Great to have some spelling and grammar Nazis who always don’t hesitate to point their finger to someone who may hadn’t the means or opportunity to access high level school education. Well done. Instead of writing some kind of relevant answer on the issue, you took your time to harass someone who was nice enough to give a deeper insight from first hand witnessing. I hope you feel superior…
Bullshit! You write like a moron.
Has anyone ever actually physically tried to fight mcelroy?
Interesting. What is also fascinating to me is how McElroy was able to defy the men who were actually hired to kill him. Weren’t there a couple of men who were offered a lot of money to blow him away?
I heard stories over the years that a couple of men had been offered a sum of money to kill McElroy. Trena, McElroy’s wife, even told the story that a man showed up at the McElroy farm outside Skidmore to kill McElroy for money, but that McElroy talked him out of it. I never verified any of these facts, but I really didn’t spend a lot of time trying either. The likelihood that a serious offer was made and accepted seems highly unlikely, given McElroy’s reputation and his many friends in the area.
Whatever happened to Alice and Trena?
Alice died a few years ago. She was always a heavy smoker, and I heard that it was from lung cancer, although I don’t knwo for sure. Trena divorced her husband, and I’ve been told lives in Columbia.
I heard that Lois also died a few years ago, and I am sure that Bo Bowenkamp died back in the late 80’s or so; but didn’t they have a couple of daughters? Are thye still in the area?
I drove through Skidmore a few years ago…..you could have fired a shotgun and not hit a thing…..that town is like dried up and gone…..
Yes, Bo died before the book was published. Slowly, the cast of characters is passing on, but there are still plenty of people alive who witnessed what happened on the mainstreet of Skidmore that morning in July 1981.
Cheryl I believe has returned to live in Skidmore. The town is not in great shape, with very few businesses remaining open, and some fellow buying lots of properties and storing junk in the yards. Looking pretty rundown.
Does Gary D. , who seems to be a candidate as the second gunman, still live in the Skidmore area?
As I understand it, Gary D moved to Texas a few years back. His brother, however, still lives in the Skimore area/
I was through there last fall bird hutning and it sure seemed as though there was nothing left. The day I stopped through even the bar was closed…..do you know if the bar is even open anymore?
Most things are closed down. Skidmore’s best days are behind it, sad to say, unless Cheryl Brown decides to get involved again. I was there a few years ago, and the bar was open, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was closed now, or maybe just open for parties. Maybe a reenactment of the shooting would put Skidmore back on the map.
There does not need to be a reeenactment. So Ken had. His problems, but who don’t? Why bring the past back up?? Yea he stole hogs, but no ones perfect
He did a little more than steal hogs.
Doesn’t Ken have a daughter in law named Tonya?
He raped children.
Did McElroy ever actually kill anyone that you heard of? The book Judgment Day (which seemed to be grossly inaccurate on a lot of things) said that he was suspected of killing someone in St. Joe?
The most well known but never verified incident involved a time supposedly in the seventies when he stretched a guy over the railroad tracks around St. Joe and watched as the train ran over him. There are more facts, but I’d have to dig into my research for them. The book Judgment Day was a joke, luckily for me or I’d never have gotten a contract to write the story.
A guy I know used to go to school at NWMSU in Maryville, and a friend of his who was a deputy sheriff told him to stay the hell out of skidmore, because Ken Rex didn’t like college kids too well.
I made the mistake once of asking about it a few years ago, needless to say I was told in no uncertain terms to mind my own business.
What did you think of the frontier justice piece? Seemed like they made up a few facts as they went along. Also didn’t Cheryl marry the town mayor or sheriff?
None of those last two incidents is surprising. It was sometimes difficult to distinguish myth from reality when it came to Ken Rex McElroy. Things got repeated and repeated until he became almost larger than life. He was a boaster and a bully, but he carried through on just enough of his threats to scare the hell out of people.
A year or so after the book was published, I met one of Ken’s kids who had been adopted out as a child. He read the book and realized that he and his sister were the children of Ken and Sharon. This was verified. When I met him, he was a sophomore in college, which amused me greatly, to think of one of Ken’s kids being a college graduate. He was a nice, smart kid, but he had blue eyes and a compelling stare.
Cheryl has been married a few times, but never as far as I know to the mayor or sheriff.
I went to high school with his 3 daughters (from Sharon). Tina, Teresa and Tammy. They were the nicest people and in no way reflected their father. And his ex wife Sharon is also a very kind woman. She’s still alive and well living in Helena mo.
In your first edition on page 293 you refer to three men with guns – a shotgun, 30-30, and a .22; Were you referring to specific individuals or taking poetic license?
It is assumed that Del was one of the shooters but are you at liberty to name the other two?
I won’t name them directly. But if you read the 2007 version of In Broad Daylight, which contains an epilogue bringing the case up to date, you’ll get some interesting information on who were on the other two guns.
I read the book, the epilogue, and the “Making of”…(thanks Kindle store!). I must be missing something. D. firing the 30.30, G. with the shotgun, but no mention of who fired the fatal shot with the .22. Can you direct me to where this information is?
I’ve read both the kindle version of your book with the epilogue, and the short update, “The Story Behind”… I see where D. is implicated using the 30-30, and G. with the shotgun, but who had the 22? Unless I missed something, I do not see anyone being connected with that gun, the one that shot the fatal bullet. You may email me if you do not want to post it publicly.
I read the shell casings found in the street were from a .22 mag and a 8 mm German or Swedish Mauser.
OK, I did as you requested and I picked up a copy of the 2007 edition and read the epilogue. Which now, has me asking a ton of additional questions, thoughts, etc.
Do you believe that Baird agreed to allow you access tot he files because he already knew they were gone? Or is it possible, that was merely a shell game, and they had no intentions of showing them to you from the start?
I have to wonder also if the town had turned in the killers, if it would have fared better than it has?
I am planning a trip back to the area for some hunting next month and I will make the drive through Skidmore just to see how things have changed.
I know you have a lot of loyalty to the town, but how do you balance that with the law? Do you have any sense how the town might have fared had they done the right thing?
i seriously doubt the town would have done better then its current state, its a very small village in the middle of nowhere.
Two additional questions Harry, I have heard that the post office in Skidmore has been closed and the high school was also closed and tore down.
Is there any school left in Skidmore?
The gov’t built a new post office on the east end of town. Check google maps, street view.
Wow, that’s a lot of questions. I haven’t been back to Skidmore in a couple of years, so I’m not sure about whether the post office is still open or not. I know there were plans to combine school districts, but I’m not sure if that;s happened.
I think David Baird believed that the sheriff had the files when he offered to open them to me. The sheriff was chagrined to admit that the official files were not in his office. There’s much speculation about where the files are, who took them, but speculation only.
I am loyal to the town. I truly believe that any community put under the sort of pressure McElroy put it under, and with the law failing to protect it, might well have done the same thing.
Although, as I found early on, this was not a community or even a group decision to kill McElroy. Three guys lost it, and left the town to deal with the results.
The silence of the town since is truly amazing. If an eyewitness had turned in the killers in, it would have been a spectacular trial, likely ending in an acquittal. The story would have gone on forever, regardless.
Harry I appreciate the time you have taken to answer my many questions, although it seems as though for each answer ten new questions are raised.
I need to ponder a few things before I attempt to ask any more, and I will let you know how the trip fares.
Let us know how your trip goes.
The plans are set, I am going back the weekend of the 5th.
I will obviously drive through the town, and more than likely take some pictures along the way, and of course stop by the bar, if it is open.
Although the trip is for a weekend of bird hunting, it will be interesting to see how things how changed, and yet remained the same.
I noticed earlier today while doing some reading that both Q. Goslee and Lois BowenKamp have passed away.
I assume that the Goslee is the same gentleman who you stayed with while you were researching the book.
If so, I am sorry to hear that, from all indications he was a gentleman and I would have loved to have met him.
Thought I would pass on that they Punkin show is no more, have not had one since 2003 and the Freedom Fest has seen its last days this year.
The town cannot seem to catch a break it seems.
Thanks for your update on Skidmore. I had planned to get back there this past summer, but didn’t make it. Unfortunately the town does seem to be a long downhill slide, with people leaving and places closing. Cheryl Brown was always the force behind the Punkin’ Show and the Festival, and I guess she finally had enough. The junk man owns the gas station across from Sumy’s, and he’s letting it fall into disrepair, along with several other places. It would take a heavy zoning push to straighten the guy up, and my guess is nobody in own cares to undertake the chore.
I know how you feel about Skidmore. I have a great affection for the place, have from the first day I walked into the coffee shop almost 25 years ago. If it were a person I’m sure it would wonder what it had done to bring all this grief down on its head.
Thanks again for sharing you trip there with us.
I’m back and have a few pictues that I will post to my site once I have gone through them all.
The bar was open, a gal named Pam owns and operates it now. She just finished installing a new wood burning stove on Friday. The town has not changed much, a few places have really gone to hell; I have pics of the junk place – that man needs to be strung up.
The masonic building is gone, as best as I can tell. The city hall has moved into the old bank and B & B is shuttered and closed.
The gas station across from Sumy’s is falling down, the roof has caved in.
One thing I wanted to do and did not was park my truck in the same spot as McElroy’s and then take a photo from the vantage point of the shooter, but after having everyone in town wave to me and be overly nice I just could not bring myself to do that.
Although I have my own personal opinions on this, I really did not want to cause anyone trouble. So I had my coffee, a burger, tipped Pam a $5.00 spot and quietly left.
I will post a link once I have all the pictures posted. I am still working through a few.
Btw, the school was also torn down, all is left is the field where the Punkin Show was held, and the baseball diamond.
The gas station across from Sumy’s a rat infested mess. I have pictures of that mess as well.
Harry do you think McElroy would have been proud to have a movie made about him and played by none other than the ultimate bad-guy actor Brian Dennehy?
I think McElroy would have loved Denehey portraying him in the movie. Denehey had the McElroy stare down perfectly, and I think Ken reveled in being able to scare people just by looking at them. Denehey was so good on the set, walking around with a shotgun in his arm, that people stayed away from him. He stopped in Skidmore driving from New York to California, prior to making the movie, to check the town out. No one recognized him, even though he stopped in several places. What McElroy would say about his portrayal in the book is another subject, and one which I would hesitate to hazard a guess on. Anyone else care to?
yeah , he looked just like fucking McElroy ,lol…. it was truly scary , I seen McElroy back in early 81 …. scared to death of the dude …. dennehey , when I saw him on tv just brought back all the memories .
Did he sound like McElroy?
In the book you wrote that nobody ever saw McElroy in an actual physical confontation, e.g. fist fight. However, in his book, former professional Harley Race (who is from Quitman, MO) says that he had a confrontation with McElroy. Specifically, he says that McElroy showed up at a bar to bully some retirees out of their pension checks, and Harley was there, confronted McElroy, and knocked him on his butt with a right hook. Did you ever hear this story?
Ken McElroy got what was coming to him. I have watched the show about it and each time I have seen it, I myself have been frustrated at the situation and I didn’t even live there. He would have done well to learn that if you live by the sword, you die by the sword. If I had been there, I would have been under the pool table with the rest of the town. I don’t really like murder but there are times I understand it. And I wouldn’t have said a word about who did it myself. When you keep pushing people around, eventually they get fed up. Well, Skidmore was fed up.
For your information. Del did not die the way you described. Why dont you get your facts strait. Another thing I was thier the night in the bar when you were asking all the questions and I dont remember Del being hostile. I remember him saying he didnt want to talk to you anymore and you would quiteasking questions. You are full of shit. I would not write anything else about Del if I were you.
That sounds like a threat at the end of your comment. I hope that’s not true, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was. It shows a mentality very close to Del’s. And you need to learn how to spell: strait is straight. And their is there. In the incident in the bar, I was not asking Del questions. He waited, like a coward, until the people I was with left the bar, and then came up to me and started doing his drunken short man routine, which everyone in the area is quite familiar with. Perhaps you were drunk, too
I live in Independence, MO (after living in LA and Indiana) not far from Skidmore…O have read this book three times it is so good…the entire story is one of the most intriguing incidents ever…You did a GREAT job (And I am a screenwriter, myself (and actor/comedian)…I hope you have other true story books, cause I want to read them…Are you into screenwriting as well? Thx for keeping us updated http://www.michaeljoiner.com
Thanks for taking the time to comment. This story, and the book, will far outlive me, and anyone else alive today, I’ve come to believe. Meanwhile, the town struggles for its existence. I’ve written several other true crime books and one novel. You can check them out at harrymaclean.com.
Whats a “drunken short man” routine? lol.
As for the guy threatening you, he literally wrote like everyone else in his level of life. He told you to “get your facts straight”… but didn’t offer the “facts’ that he claims were genuine.
Del Clement died suddenly of a massive coronary event in January of 2009. He did not die in the spring, he did not die slowly. He died quite suddenly and for those of us who loved him too soon. I will stress again that his death was very unexpected. I would be very interested to find out your source of information.
I can not put into words how painful it is to read these untruths on the internet. Especially when the truth of his death is available with easy and proper research.
I am sure that CC was not meaning a threat, I do not know who CC is but I thank him for standing up for Del, when Del has passed from this life. Mr. MaClean, as a writer, you should check your facts before writing such gross untruths. The too soon death of Del left a large whole in the heart of many. Mine included, reading your untrue account of his life and death does not offer any peace in our mourning. Not to mention the event, which I will remind you he was never found guilty of, occurred a lifetime ago. Please move on with your life. I can assure you Skidmore has moved on.
As far as the short man comments, that just seems like frat-boy rhetoric, not something a mature man, who writes for a living should use as a defense. Not to mention that Del was of average height. I understand you are a tall man, so relatively he would be shorter than you, but he was not a “short man with a chip on his shoulder”.
Another note about Del, he was not a fighter, he wouldn’t have started a fight. He also had a slow temper. I would love to find someone in the area who would describe this drunken short man routine you speak of. You wouldn’t find one, it didn’t exist.
Please think before you write, you are talking about someone very dear to me and many others. Someone who has passed on from this life. Someone who was loved.
I know how hard it is for loved ones to take an honest look at a member of their family. I spent three years in Skidmore, and all I ever heard was that Clement was a mean drunk and had a bad temper. I’m sure his wife at one time loved him, although I understand she divorced him because of his uncontrollable drinking. I also understand that he lost his job as an auctioneer in St. Joe because of this problem. The few times I saw him he was drunk, once so badly he could barely stand. As for his height, he was probably normal height if you included the cowboy hat he always wore.
As for his role in the killing, there was never any doubt expressed to me by law enforcement or anyone else in the area that Del was the primary shooter. Certainly Trena identified him, and another person did as well. Del Clement, in my view, was also a coward. Who else would shoot a man in the back of the head as he sat in his truck?
As for how he died, if you will submit the autopsy report confirming the massive heart attack, I will correct the record. A family member’s say so alone is definitely not persuasive.
Well then it appears Ken Rex was done in by a fellow coward. How fitting. Kenny boy didn’t seem to have a problem threatening anybody old or smaller than him. Waving a shotgun around and shooting old unarmed men doesn’t make him look so brave to me. But your right, it would have been more polite to just go around to the front of the truck and shoot the SOB in the eye.
Harry said,: “Del Clement, in my view, was also a coward. Who else would shoot a man in the back of the head as he sat in his truck?”
Harry…. I would suggest you’ve had a very comfortable life not only financially but in your career. That said, I don’t think you’ve ever lived a day where you had to risk your life for anything and as such, I don’t think you’re in any position to call another person a coward. (for one thing, murdering a human being isn’t easy for most of us).
Del was a weasel. He had no courage if his target was taller , younger or stronger than him. A mean drunk if you could not defend yourself — a backpedalling coward if you could.
Did you know him personally, or just hear this about him? Your take on him is a common one, although he has his defenders.
Are there any Pics of the Aftermath.. Morgue pics of the Body?
There were a few. I got a copy of one of the pictures taken during the autopsy, but chose not to use it. It was pretty gruesome. In this day and age we would have a ream of cell phone photos of the funeral, which I would definitely have run.
If anyone know where Trena is, I would love to know. Last i heard she was in Columbia.
Why didn’t you used them? Is it out of respect for the familiy. I search the internet and couldn’t find a link to them. Would love to see the picture you have.
The photo was too graphic, in my mind, for a book. There is no benefit I can see to having it in the public arena.
Harry, what is your opinion on what happened to the killing files in the Sheriff’s office? Sheriff Estes certainly would have had a reason to dispose of them, wouldn’t he?
I would assume, although I don’t know, that Sheriff Estes took then when he left office. Estes certainly did not come off well in the whole McElroy story.
Sounds to me like Del Clement was a hero.
del was a coward and a asshole hope he burns in hell for what he did
Are you a friend or relative of Ken McElroy’s? Could you explain your opinion?
In an earlier post you stated “Del Clement, in my view, was also a coward. Who else would shoot a man in the back of the head as he sat in his truck?” It would appear that you are using the connotation for ‘coward’, (i.e. the dirty little coward who shot Mr. Howard) as opposed to the denotation; a person who lacks courage in facing danger, difficulty, opposition, pain, etc.; a timid or easily intimidated person. If the action against McElroy was spontaneous, wouldn’t Clement expect to be held accountable for his actions? Does this not imply a certain degree of courage? Whether in the back of the head, between the eyes or in the heart, dead is dead. The real question is: What would drive an entire town, filled with good people, to this desperate act?
McElroy was a narcissistic despot. Little more than a manipulative bully, who exploited weaknesses in our legal system. If anything, our legal system became his enabler.
We all seek to find our constraints. This normally occurs when we are children, from our parents. If this process is circumvented, it becomes more difficult (to establish these constraints) with each passing year. Is this not what happened with McElroy? Over the years he learned a well spoken threat, a well placed punch or ‘the look’, was enough to quail opposition, in most instances. And if not, a few dollars to the right lawyer would suffice.
I’m not looking to cause a row, but my quandary is this; What should a person do when ‘the system’ has failed them? When one feels all hope of finding justice is gone. I’m not condoning ‘vigilante justice’, but shouldn’t i have a reasonable expectation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? And if this right was challenged? Should i not expect that the legislative and judicial branches would then come to my defense? What if these also failed me? What then?
As the old proverb says; ‘Desperate times call for desperate measures.’
What are your thoughts?
I really have no quarrel with what happened to McELroy. The law had utterly failed to protect Skidmore or the surrounding communities. I had law officers tell me that the word was out among the cops that if you found McELroy out on the roads at night along and with a gun you should shoot him.
In the book, I tried to present the town’s side of the killing and to question those who said it is always wrong to take a life outside of the law.
Several people in town said to me of the shooters: They should be given a medal for what they did and strung up for the way they did it. I’ve seen diagrams of plans to shoot McElroy on the backroads of Nodaway County; Intersections where he would have to stop on his way home, with a gunman or gunmen in the trees or behind the bushes. If that had happened, I doubt there would have been much of an outcry, and surely no book entitled In Broad Daylight.
Actually, I think Del Clement’s act was totally impulsive. I don’t think it was planned beyond a few moments before it took place. I think he had a few beers in the tavern and, hothead that he was, went out the back door with mayhem on his mind. Standing at his truck, watching McElroy sit calmly in this truck with his wife, as if he owned the street, the twon, someone shouted “Shoot the sonofabithch!” and he grabbed his rifle. My point on his courage was, that I doubt he would have done it if he had been face to face with McElroy.
yeah that’s exactely how it happened , it wasn’t planned . just happened . spur of the moment that got completely out of hand . it’s almost like you were their . how do I know …I was one of the people who witnessed the killing , or as some people say , murder . iv’e had nightmares ever since that day off & on . all of us took an oath , the shooters & the other witness’s ….it was surreal as to what happened . enough was enough, McElroy had pushed his last button & lit the fuse that led to his death , he sat their , just like in the movie calmly & looked in his mirror to see the crowd behind him , he knew I believed that it was the end for him & that he was about to die , no way in hell was that crowd letting him leave. I was a witness , not a shooter . I believe that the shooting was wrong , as someone said on here it was murder , but the law failed to do its job & they are also responsible for that mans death . its funny , when McElroy died it was like a peace & calm wafted through the air that day ….everybody heard about it & sighed a sigh of relief & whispered ” its finally over ” to themselves. we all knew that the police would be coming , no one expected the fbi …. we all talked & took a vow of silence , NO MATTER WHAT to our death bed. it was us against the world , that’s the attitude we took & yeah we did bulls#@* with the gentleman from playboy ,lol….. he ate it up like candy , we all had a good laugh when he left town . didn’t like him at all , had a feeling he thought we were all country bumpkins . McElroy got what was coming to him plain & simple , that’s sad to say but its true . as the old saying goes ….. ” as you live by the sword , you will die by the sword ” McElroy lived life as a bully & he died a bully . I went to his gravesite a few years after he died , & took a piss on his grave, that’s how much I thought of him . as for the earlier post of the person defending McElroy being a bully , why don’t you bring your tough guy act to skidmore , before you do I’d suggest that you pick out a nice plot & make sure your life insurance is up to date .
It’s easy to sit in judgment of these people when you’re not the one who has to live in constant fear of this evil bastd. I’m sure the people of the town didn’t care how it happened, only that it happened. How many more people had to be shot and live in abject heck before the law did anything about this evil SOB?
I’ve always wondered why he wasn’t killed long before he was.
i wonder why a group of ppl didnt grab him and beat him half to death way b4 the shooting,
the townspeople like much of the US actually believed in ‘the law’ and kept hoping it would do its job. no one in their right mind ever believe someone like mcelroy would just keep getting away with things. he was seriously evil. a narcissistic psychopath that made even the mafia look simple in comparison.. the day they snapped, it was when the last straw had been broken and good people were desperate & did a desperate thing. no one planned it. they didnt even plan on what they did after. it too was spontaneous. and it holds to this day. NO one talks about it, not even to family who werent there that day.. it happened they decided what they felt they needed to do after and it was done. period. speculation will never be useful or needed. it just is.. it was Justice. one of those rare moments in time, )thank goodness) where law & justice divided the world and a small town from the world. yes Skidmore is dying and its truly sad because its a sweet town full of good people. sadly i feel the man & his killing caused so much trauma it never has fully recovered. if a town can have ptsd then Skidmore has lived it for these many decades.
I believe that Ken McLeroy got what he deserved. I don’t understand why Trena would stand up for a man who had raped her, beat her, and burned down her own parents house?
Remember how young she was when he got a hold of her. Her parents abandoned her to his clutches. There is also a bit of the Stockholm Syndrome, where the captive begins to identify with captor, liked Patty Hearst.
My first encounter with the Skidmore story began when I first saw the TV episode of City Confidential some years ago. This sparked my interest, but did not pursue any additional information until I recently viewed the movie “In Broad Daylight”. My interest was once again renewed, so I purchased and read your book which I enjoyed very much. It not only provided additional information on the people, places and events that lead to the “showdown on main street” but the also with the aftermath of investigations, reflections and conclusions.
I think anyone who has been on the receiving end of a bully’s wrath or the injustices of the legal system to deal with criminals can put themselves in the plight of the towns people of Skidmore. I can certainly relate to both. I also believe that the residents of Skidmore simply got tired of the legal system trying and failing to deal with Ken Rex McElroy. So, on July 10, 1981, they reached their “point of no return”, reacted to an impulsive decision to take the law into their hands, and that’s exactly what they did. We should not judge them for their action, after all, they had to live and deal with this atmosphere of intimidation and fear on a daily basis.
Thanks for taking the time to share our thoughts. I agree with you that we need to be careful about judging the town of Skidmore. When I was on the Larry King Show, he was very sympathetic during the show, and when it was over he muttered to me, “I don’t think it’s every all right to take another person’s life,” or something to that effect. I tried to give the town’s point of view, but to also be fair to the other people and institutions involved.
I knew Del in his later years and enjoyed his company. I worked for his brother in Hot Springs Ar. and actually spent time there with Del when he visited, as well as traveled to his ranch outside of Skidmore over a three and a half year span. I never saw a time when he was anything but pleasant to be around.
Thanks for the comment. There are always many sides to a person.
Thanks for your reply and comments. I would appreciate if you would please address a couple of questions. Was it the standard blub “the names were changed to protect the innocent” or another reason for not using the real names/places in your movie? I just finished the book “Judgement Day” and although not as detailed as yours I also enjoyed it. Are there any other in print material available that you would recommend? A more recent movie “Without Mercy” is available but am always concerned about Hollywood’s “artistic license” production option when it comes to “making it more appealing” (even though I did not notice it in your movie) and was wondering if you have viewed it? If you have, would you recommend it and/or share your thoughts? Thanks again for your time and have to admit I am fast becoming a Skidmore junkie. Fascinating stuff!
The movie people couldn’t get releases from many of those involved, so they just decided to change all of the names. The movie was shot in Elgin, Texas, which you’ll note bears no resemblance to Skidmore. I thought Judgment Day was pretty much of a joke, but you could understand my bias. The authors were in and out of there in a couple of weeks. I spent years in Skidmore. I’ve heard and seen trailers of “Without Mercy,” but have not seen it. I hear it’s a cheap knockoff of the real story. If you can find them, Oprah did a full show on the book, as did Larry King. I”m sure they’re out there somewhere in cyberspace. Rolling Stone and Playboy both did long, overblown pieces on the story. Thanks for writing.
I have a question and a statement. 1st I am so drawn to this story as my grandparents are from skidmore my grandpa has past and my grandma still lives there. Del and my grandpa has hauled cattle together. My first question is have you ever heard the name jay law mentioned if so what was said. My grandpa has always maintained that he was at the Albany court house awaiting ken Rex for his trial.
Sorry, I’ve never heard that name.
Just a note of interest. I used to trade rides to NWMSU with one of McElroy’s relatives. She was getting a teaching degree and came from a very well liked, respectable family in our community. We are within an hours drive from Skidmore. During our many trips this subject came up and she gave an entirely different perspective on the story. She is a person of great personal integrity and not prone to exaggeration or gossip. She related that while McElroy had his problems he was also being harassed. She told of one incident in particular where her family was present when his property was being buzzed repeatedly by a low flying plane. There were other incidents as well but my memory of them has faded. On the other hand i used to work with a gal who told me that her ex-husband had been a bartender in Skidmore. During the time that I worked with her they had reconciled and were going to get married again. I believe they had a little boy. It was at this time that he died in what appeared to be a freak accident. He had closed up the bar and was coming home when he ran off the road. He died of electricution when he made contact with a high voltage line while stepping out of the car. I later heard that there were suspicions that he had been driven off of the road. The only thing you can say for sure is that law enforcement in that part of the country was as worthless as t*ts on a boar!
I heard some similar stories about McElroy being harassed by the locals, but not from a family member herself. There might be some truth to it, but, frankly, most of the people I knew were scared to death of the man and wouldn’t have done anything to draw attention to themselves. Still, thanks for writing — there are two sides to every story.
By the way, In Broad Daylight goes up as a Kindle on Tuesday.
damn right we were scared to death of him …the man was a bully . I ended up moving from skidmore after his death , glad he got what was coming to him ….sorry bastard , now I hope he is burning in hell . ive thoyght of moving back to skidmore , but nothing’s left . so , ill just stay where I am outside of kc . skidmore used ti be a nice little town , ashamed what has happened to it ….as for trina , well as someone else on here posted they let her live…that’s a fact , she could’ve easily been blown away by a bullet just like McElroy was …they let her walk away, she should have been grateful but she wasn’t she went after the towns people in a lawsuit . I was their that day I was watching from the old gas station on the corner ……I know who fired the first shot & no … I WONT TELL , I TOOK THE OATH TOO. WE ALL DID TILL DEATH . SOMETIMES I WONDER IF OL ‘ KEN IS IN HELL …… IHE MADE LIFE MISERABLE FOR EVERYBODY IN SKIDMORE . anyway skidmore is gone , the town is dying & its sad to see.
It seemed as if an entire town was held hostage by a lunatic. I first heard of this story in a special edition of People Magazine (True Crime Stories; 2005). I also did a Google Street View of the town (last updated in 2009) and it looks really sad. Almost ghost-like in the downtown area. I used to visit a town (Ransom, Illinois) which is very similar in size and population and it is experiencing a similar decline which I believe is more due to economics and changing times than anything else. It’s extremely difficult nowadays to operate any kind of small business in such sparsely populated areas like these having to rely on the locals to keep it afloat whether it’s a local bar, gas station, or corner grocery.
Once the grocery store goes, then goes the bank, and the gas station, and there’s little left. The big blow was when Wal-Mart opened in Maryville.The story of so many small towns in America.
I found Trena in an Obituary this year. I do not see that you wrote of this in your comments. Just after the killing two of the Mcelroy children moved into our nieghboorhood in St Joe. A whole new book could start here.
I found Trena in an Obituary this year. I do not see that you wrote of this in your comments. Just after the killing two of the
I blogged about the death and posted her obituary. Also, it’s been talked about a lot on Facebook. Tell me what happened when Alice and the kids move in.
He wasent killed by a skidmore resident! You add it up :O
this person is a moron – he was killed by a local resident this person must be smoking dope cause their high as a kite right now , why would an outsider kill him, it was a local, somebody who knew him.
Enjoyed your book, its a fascinating case. But I can’t help but notice that this comment thread is over two years old and still running, on a 25 year old book. Ding dong, the witch is dead. Let it rest, people.
What do you think, people? Is it time to stop talking about Ken McElroy, his reign of terror, and what happened to him more than 30 years ago?
If people don’t want to hear or read about this story, then don’t come hear.
Never stop talking about Ken McElroy. Let this stand as a testament of human nature and what people are capable of when deep-rooted survival instincts are aroused by fear, oppression, and the feelings of hopelessness. This man was a domestic terrorist whose actions were deadly to anyone and everyone that crossed him. The justice system failed in releasing this revengeful, dangerous man back to his community. The worst by this individual was still to come for this town and they knew it. McElroy was a rabid dog that needed to be destroyed, whether shot between the eyes or in the back of the head. Shooting him was a justified act of self-defense for everyone.
The witch might be dead.. and you should just go your way. Ive only heard about this case, its 2019, and I want to know more. I’m especially interested in the troubles his kids caused once they moved out of Skidmore. I already found a news item where one of his sons (Juarez) had been arrested at age 26 for knifing a man. The victim was simply entering a store and was accosted on his way out. The case was in court but released as the victims could not identify the assailant due to it being dark. As Juarez left the court room, the news item specifically mentioned he was smiling. Ask yourself: who smiles instantly after beating the criminal rap in court? Innocent people don’t… they give a sigh of relief. Only hard core criminals… laugh in court.
I’m a retired peace officer, as such I’ve seen the inside of quite a few jails and prisons. They aren’t nice places to visit even when you have the keys!
If I were ever accused of a crime then found not guilty, I’m reasonably confident that I’d be smiling ear to ear & might even do a happy dance!
After a sigh of relief that could be heard for miles, anybody would be overjoyed.
The boys mostly moved to St Joe. Been in some trouble. Not like Ken. I remember as a kid Ken stealing grain in middle of night from our grain bin. Deputy was there talking to my dad as he was stealing it. The deputy was too scared to confront him. I was quickly sent in the house. Yes I know at this point most involved are dead or very old and forgot it. The town died after this event.
Its an interesting story you have made a career out of. Your characterization of the man who seems to have shot him as a coward is interesting. You care for the sheep but hate the sheepdog. Looked at your bio. Defense lawyer. Figures.
Sorry, I’ve never been a defense lawyer, and my bio does not indicate otherwise.
I would rather have a bio that reads defense attorney than town drunk 🙂
One can be both a defense attorney as well as the town drunk…
This is the second time i have read In Broad Daylight. I read it when it was first published. Fantastic book! I keep going back to the though of if he knew it was the end for him. My feeling is that he did, but he could not show fear. What are your thoughts on this?
I think he probably knew it was the end for him, and I think he might have welcome it, at some level. He was not looking forward to going to prison for a couple of years, and his best days as a coon hunter and seducer of girls were long behind him.
Mr. MaClean, excellent book!!! Didn’t want to put it down!! Is it possible you will be doing an updated story, anytime soon? I would really love to find out what happened to all of his children, and women, as well as if you or the authorities have any new “leads” to speak of. Again, GREAT BOOK!!
Mr. MaClean, great book!! Didn’t want to put it down! Was wondering if you’ll ever do a “follow up” to your book? Would love to know what has happened to Ken’s women & children, as well as the major people associated with this story. I can’t seem to find much information on the Internet. Again, awesome book!!
Chris: We just published an e-book entitled “The Story Behind In Broad Daylight.” Available on Amazon. It tells in some detail the process of writing and researching the book, particularly the difficulty when the town was closed up around the killers. It also tells the story of “The Lost Son” of Ken Rex McELroy. It brings the story and characters up to date. In a few weeks we will have a new POD paperback which will contain both In Broad Daylight and The Story Behind In Broad Daylight.
I went to school at NWMSU at the time of Ken Rex. I live about an hour away from this area still. I know some of the people involved. Years ago I met one of the gunmen, he was a polite gentleman. I never considered the gunmen as cowards. Most of the guys in NW MO can take care of themselves and would not be afraid of Ken if they had a gun in their hands. What they were afraid of was prosecution. This was not a planned shooting so the idea was to shoot quick and avoid as many witnesses as possible. I read your book and think it is great. I also read “Judgement Day”, it was worth reading although you can tell it’s not as accurate. I read the Playboy version, wasn’t real impressed with it. I look forward to getting your new POD paperback. Thanks for the great book and your comments.
I agree with almost everything you said. I never actually thought Del Clement and the other shooters were cowards. I raised it as a topic of discussion, since they shot McElroy in the back. I don’t think Del knew he was actually going to shoot McElroy until an instant before he reached inside the truck and grabbed his rifle. The locals had a lot of fun with the Playboy author, feeding him all sorts of bullshit, then seeing him run it down or put it in his article. Quick hits for stories like this are a joke. The classic print edition is now available at: http://tiny.cc/KeepsakeEdition
Thanks for writing.
I just ordered the new edition from Amazon and it is on the way. I look forward to receiving it. I should have stated that years ago I was introduced to one of the “alleged” gunmen. The person I met was a prominent person in the town. I never met or knew Del Clement so I can’t comment on him. Thank you for the reply.
Please let me know what you think of the new version. I put it together mainly because the book was out of print — other than on Kindle–and I felt that a “real book” should always be available. I won’t speculate as to who it was you met.
I just finished the book in the new version and really enjoyed it. This book is still very important because of this unique situation which involved the people of northwest Missouri. These are good people who did what they had to to remedy a nightmare. We hope something like this never happens again but if it is necessary then so be it. This book will still be important 100 years from now not only for the decendants from this area but for the entire midwest and beyond. Thank you Harry for your good work.
Thanks for the comment and the complement. I hear now and then from others that I should just let the story die, that there is no reason to keep talking about it, etc. In my view, the story is a story that will stand in the annals of crime in America, whether I wrote it or someone else did. Although I do understand why some of the locals wish it would just go away.
Mr. McClean, no disrespect intended, I understand this is a best seller for you and become a part of your life and your research entitles you to some first hand accuracy, but it seems that you have spent some time on Mr. McElroy and what made him tick and his character makeup. I’ve read these posts and seems you have taken inventory of the participants but given the protagonist a bit more recognition. I understand you need to sell books but if it humbles you, I learned about this out of a true crime and and aberrant behavior book so your book is well versed but not hardly the only source. Let sleeping dogs lay in this tragedy. Write a new book become current find similarities that parallel life but quit riding the wind out of this. You are very talented and a brilliant writer, your story is in line with the tales told but maybe you can do better
I remember when this crime occurred. Every few years I will once again wonder if the culprits have finally been outted and search to find out. Not that it really matters, I suppose. I seem to have the feeling that only two people had guns in their hands that day but the whole town had their fingers on the triggers. (Much the same way I press a phantom brake when I am in the passenger seat)
I have a few questions. Was Ken armed at the time that he was killed? Either on his person or in the vehicle? Or in his wife’s purse? Were the cops afraid of him? Was he mentally disturbed? (I seem to recall he “wasn’t quite right”) I understand one weapon used that day was an 8mm. Obviously a rifle. The other weapon was a .22 mag, but was it identified as a rifle as well? Or could it have been a semi-auto pistol? How many rounds were fired in total?
As to Del, if I may…I understand why you may feel he was a short, hot-headed drunk. But I also understand why a man who’d done (did? err sorry my grammar’s for crap) what he had done might be exactly that way. Especially while drinking in the presence of overly curious people. I’d imagine I’d be sick of it myself. Just saying. On another note, as to shooting him in the back and attaching the coward label. I do not see it that way. Whether it was in the heat of the moment or putting him down like a mad dog, I cannot say. But when it comes to killing, there are very few fair fights.
As to Ken’s last moments. I doubt he really was afraid for his life. I bet he actually felt the large numbers would inhibit action against him. I think he was trying a stare down and lost. Hell, he might have actually been loving the anger he was generating. Pausing to milk it a little too long.
Finally, a rumor. I worked with a guy in the 80s that said he had met Ken a couple at times and that he come across as a real a-hole. A misanthrope that even treated his dogs, that he apparently loved, badly.
Sorry for the overlong post.
It is an event that is HISTORICAL, and of course sensational so somebody is always going to talk about it. You know, there are a lot of places out there like “Skidmore”. They are all over. I think, though I do not have any data, this is not my “field” but in Urban areas of high crime it is very common for people to be killed and “nobody sees a thing”. It has happened forever.
It seems more sensational in a “Rural Setting”. I have seen similar areas in my youth. Over time lawlessness usually kills a community whether it is Rural or Urban. You should check out the history of FALLS COUNTY TEXAS sometime. Check out Sheriff Brady Pamplin and his son Brady Pamplin Jr. who became Sheriff as well. The “Good Ole Boy” rural thug culture killed that whole county pretty much. This is the Home County of Kenneth McDuff, you have heard of him I’m sure. But there are a lot of these places, the killing in “public” and a rural town’s “solidarity” which I am sure is based somewhat on Loyalty and for others FEAR. But the system did not work, and throughout history when that happens, when it gets BAD enough, people will act. People will quit talking about this about the same time they quit talking about the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, so the request to “Let it die” is futile. But I MUST SAY, though I have seen many inconsistencies in the reporting of this event, add it all up, the guy got what he deserved. Whether the people that shot him are cowards or NOT, they simply did what the SYSTEM would NOT DO. Pushed in a CORNER people will ACT, coward or NOT. Being shot in the back of the head means nothing, anywhere to take him down was what was necessary.. He didn’t deserve any better. One problem solved, but obviously from the tremendous amount of crime in that county, not the ONLY problem. BB
I have read all the comments, here are some comments that I am sure most won’t like, but hey, to each their own right?
1. Ken Rex was an alpha male, much like myself. You see, there are the kind of bullies that go away once confronted, then there are others like us that come back – and that scares the bejesus out of you. We do what we want, when we want, and how we want. Screw the law and the rest of you people who have no back bone to do anything about it. While you all are shakin’ in your boots your women will be coming to me, women love a real man, and so will your property. You dont like it? Well then grow a pair and do something about it. Us types know that when we live by the sword we will die by the sword and that’s what’s scares the crap out of you common folk. Ken Rex was a hero to some and was running the area with the back of his hand and had a great run. He stared death in the face and took it like a real man. I bet a lot f the boys around those parts were jealous of him but are not man enough to admit it.
2. It is very obvious the whole thing was planned. If it was spontaneous there would have been at least one person who wouldn’t have known to keep their mouth shut. C’mon people use your head…
3. Its obvious that Del was the main shooter. Trena sad she saw him clear as day, what more do you need? These small man syndrome types are quick to jump on the bandwagon and try to out do everyone by being first to the punch due to their own perceived difficiencies. I wonderwonder for how long he wished he could be big and strong like Ken Rex coupled with Ken Rex imasculating him he jumped on the opportunity to get even for everything. He probably thought it would make him a bigger man in the eyes of the townfolk – something he always wanted. He took it to the grave with him simply because his personality type thinks that this would put him one over on everyone, and, he was probably too scared to admit it due to reprocussions. – just like a true coward.
4. The people that shot Ken Rex were cowards. I bet not one of them had the gnads to look him in the eye and do it, even with the crowd around let alone one on one, both with guns in hand. They probably had bad dreams over it and Ken Rex won because he still haunts them and the town of Skidmore.
To all my haters: just be glad I don’t live around you because I’d be doin’ a helluva lot more then just parking outside your house! Don’t hate cuz even cops are corrupt. Us bad ass, rebel, alpha male types give the rest of you pansies something to look up to.
Rest in Peace Ken Rex, you were all good in my book!
Interesting take on Ken and the town. I’d like to get the reaction of other readers. I agree that Ken McElroy haunts the town, and always will. To this day, locals are not welcoming to strangers. On Del, I’ve discussed the notion that he might have been a coward because he shot Ken in the back. More likely, it was an impulsive act. He had been drinking that morning, and had a helluva temper. Ken had been ruining business in town. I suspect we’ll never know the truth.
Reply to ROD REX.
Small minded backwards,2 pack a day hillbillies like yourself are very easy to deal with so I will break down your 4 points real quick.
1) There was nothing Alpha about Ken or you,look what happened to Ken. You on the other hand… Id just kick your ass in front of the whole town.
2) Planned or not… a real man could have dealt with it..when your a bully you had better be ready…cause its always comin
3) Del was the main shooter but he would have gladly been the ONLY shooter. Too many other people demanded to get a piece of Ken… too bad
4) Ken was the coward..the town was defended what was rightfully theirs! and to your footnote… I was born close this town but have since move. But all I need is an address and I would gladly show up unarmed….pussy
Dearest Chris Bauman,
1. It took a town of cowards, and those cowards in surrounding areas such as yourself, to kill Ken by shooting him in the back no less.
2. People such as yourself who threaten other people over the Internet also tend to be cowards. How old are you, 12?
3. If I had a dime, no make that a nickel, for every time someone said they were going to kick my ass I would be richer then I am now from all the robbin’ and stealin’ lol. I find it funny when they get that goofy grin on their face when I confront them just before they say “no, I never said that”, or try and shake my hand and be my buddy. I am 6’8, 320 pounds of solid muscle and no fat. can palm most 6′ tall peoples head like a basket ball and pick them up. I have been a marine and completed 2 tours of duty and travel armed at all times with a crew, so I highly doubt you are going to kick my ass – these are just facts, besides the fact that this is just a message board on the internet and I can’t be bothered to get into a childish flaming war with some old dude who was tormented by either Ken Rex, my comments, or both.
As I said, my feelings and comments are not for everyone, and obviously you have taken offense to them but sadly you won’t be able to do anything about it so too bad. Ken Rex and his memory live on and he is a hero to some – I am just letting you all know that. Over and out.
This guy needs Jesus. Doesn’t matter if he dies in bed, in a nursing home, he’ll have to face what ken McElroy did–a God who has granted mercy, until one day…take Jesus as your friend, before he becomes your judge instead. And by the way, there’s NO ONE as tough as Jesus, because he knew what was coming, faced it squarely, did what had to be done. What good is it to wake up in hell?
Don’t kid yourself–there are no tough guys left after one minute in hell.
You say Ken was a “real man”. Last I checked:
Real men don’t have to use guns to intimidate. Ken McElroy obviously relied on his gun anywhere he went.
Real men don’t shoot unarmed men and leave them to die. Ken McElroy did this to Ernest Bowenkamp and Romaine Henry.
Real men don’t hit women. Ken McElroy did this to Alice, and probably Trena too.
Rod Rex you might be a narcissist but you certainly aren’t any man. But as long as you are armed, I’m sure you feel like big man on campus. That’s how Ken McElroy felt.
Also those who brag on the internet are usually the opposite. I seriously doubt you are 6’8 and 320 and all muscle.
Rod Rex, You sure are full of your 6’8″ 350 pounds of muscle. All big guys are just big targets if you ask me. You steal, and think that makes you a man? Sorry pal, I’m one of those 6′ 180 pound guys you claim you’d palm. I can promise you you’d not roll over me. You or your crew. Real tough guys don’t need a crew. But you wouldn’t know anything about that.
“Real men” don’t have to take little girls, they can get real women.
I spent 8 years in the Marines. Never saw anyone over 6’4. If you’re 6’8″ you’re outside the height limit to be a Marine. If you’re such a big bad ass why carry a gun and have a crew? You sound like a pussy with little man syndrome. And the only women you get are the ones you buy on the street corner.
Gary N. Dowling
(May 1, 1939 – June 9, 2014)
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Gary N. Dowling
Gary N. Dowling, 75, of Mission, TX, and formerly of the Maryville and Skidmore, MO, area, passed away on Monday, June 9, 2014, at his home in Mission, where he had lived the past several years.
Gary was born near Maryville, MO, on May 1, 1939, to Eugene and Mildred (Ulmer) Dowling. They preceded him in death. He was also preceded by his sister, Ronda Salsbury; son in law, Carey Barr; grandson, Rob Lowrance; and sister in law, Barb Dowling.
Gary farmed west of Maryville most all his life. After selling his farm, he worked at Energizer in Maryville, MO, for several years. He was a member and enjoyed his friends at the Maryville Elks Lodge #760; he was a member of the Town and Country Saddle Club at Skidmore, MO. He was also a former mason with the Skidmore Masonic Lodge #511, Skidmore, MO. He was of the Christian faith and had attended the Skidmore Methodist Church.. Gary married Marilyn Lou Friend in 1959, they later divorced.
Survivors include his daughter, Sindy Barr (Kelly Culp), Graham, MO; 2 sisters, Jackie (Harold) Holaday, Barnard, MO, Mary Karen (Dave) Christensen, Savannah, MO, and 1 brother, Stephen Dowling, Mission, TX, brother in law, Roger Salsbury Guilford MO; 3 grandchildren, Megan (Eric) Redden, Stanberry, MO, Lauren Barr, Graham, MO, and Michael (Amanda) Barr, Willard, MO; 3 great grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Mr. Dowling’s body has been cremated under the direction of the Bram-Danfelt Funeral Home, Maryville. Memorial services are planned for July and will be announced.
Memorials are suggested to the Maryville Elks Lodge #760, Maryville, MO.
For online condolences and guest book, visit http://www.bramfuneralhome.com
The obituary mentioned that he had lived in Skidmore, MO, but nothing at all about the event for which we are reading this material. I guess that’s understandable. I wondered if his TX neighbors even know about his involvement in this Skidmore event. The posts didn’t sound like it.
As long as there are bullies (like this scum who was properly dealt with by his peers in broad daylight) then this story should keep being told and this comments section should be open. Let this story be told and retold and commented upon as warning to bullies and scumbags that if they want to bully people sooner or later, one way or another, they are going to get what is coming to them, one way or another.
what a fascinating story. a small town terrorized by one man.a town stricken with fear, a town that kept asking for help & didnt get it. a town so fed up with what was going on that it finally took justice,if thats what you want to call it-into their own hands & then all involved took a vow of silence. if i was a true crime writer this is a story i wouldv’e liked to write. i’ve been to skidmore a few times , saw the movie in broad daylight. wow- denehey played the part like no one could have & spooky of the real life resemblence of denehey to mcelroy-literally gave me shivers. you see i was in skidmore in early 1981 , me & my girlfreind were in the general/grocery store owned as i later came to know as the bowencamps we were passing through & went in the store ,mcelroy was in the store & he was looking my gf up & down & even said something to her which i didnt hear . well he kept trying to talk to her & she told me to say something to him . i told this guy ( didnt know his reputation at the time) to back off he gave me an icy cold stare , he did in fact have an imitadation factor about him. as we paid for our items he followed us out the door & watched us get into our car & leave. i remember looking into the mirror & he was still standing in front of the store watching us as we went out of sight. we just thought he was some creepy dude, then when the story broke about him & i saw pics i was literally shocked. ken rex mcelroy should have been dealt with by the law -instead the people took care of it , mcelroy will haunt skidmore for years to come. the only hope that we can ever find out who fired the fatal shot is the last person alive who took the oath , as they die one by one , it will be the last person – will they make a deathbed confession , will they knowing that their the last – will they let the name be known – thats the only way it will ever come out. will they tell , or will they take it to the grave too.
the people of skidmore mo murdered ken rex mcelroy-plain & simple. vigilante justice, call it what you want.MURDER IS MURDER. those involved who took the oath to keep silent will take it to the grave with them. & those who witnessed the crime are accessories to murder- plain & simple skidmore will always have mcelroys ghost hanging over the town. harry maclean has written a story that will endure , a story of a small northwest missouri town who took care of one of its own since the law didnt seem to care, a bully who terrorized this small town without repracussion , he got away with whatever he wanted. skidmore is a town that MURDERED A MAN & got away with it. this town shut its mouth , nobody talked & nobody will , i know del clement is the one who supposedly fired the fatal shot – but no one really knows. unless the last living person of that oath is on their deathbed & decides to tell who the shooter was, the shooter that they all covered for. until then it’s just a guessing game. so if your ever passing through skidmore -remember , those people got away with murder, you could be in town talking to someone, passing someone on the street & they could hve been the shooter or a witness to the crime. you never know. skidmore got away with it once, if another bully came into town could it happen again in skidmore, the answer is yes it can
i heard a rumour that someone wanted to pay for & put a statue of ken rex mcelroy in downtown skidmore- geez louise , are you freaking kidding me -thats all the local yoco’s need , a staue of the man who terrorized & bullied them for years. they say if you walk the streets of downtown skidmore mo you can see ken’s ghost every now & then, that you can still feel his presence in town . a man who left a legacy of terror & hatred. skidmore will never be the same since the passing of mcelroy . this town is declining at a rapid pace , soon , skidmore will be a ghost town with nothing but mcelroys ghost roaming the streets & empty buildings.
maybe they should have the gun that killed mcelroy in a museuem or something, maybe they can build a museueum there celebrating the murder . i dont know ? the gun could be in a glass case with lights downing on it . the skidmore “we got away with murder ” museuem.
sorry for the bad spelling ,lol
“When the Social Contract is broken, the people must revolt.” Rousseau
The people BEGGED Law Enforcement to do something for DECADES. Law Enforcement did NOTHING. That County has a long history of “bullies” and criminals. The good people there, many of them are defenseless against these thugs. Being located in the Northwest corner of Missouri, they are just a short drive to Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas jurisdictions. This makes it EASY for Thugs to dispose of people’s property “out of state. They get away with crimes so much they begin to think they are INVINCIBLE. According to the Movie (which was shot near Elgin Texas) a Missouri State Trooper had to Break the Law and threaten McElroy with murder to get him to stop stalking the Trooper’s wife and family. Those people TRIED to get some relief, they were ignored. I don’t like people taking the Law in their own hands, but in THIS CASE I see nothing else they could do. They TRIED EVERYTHING, it did not work.
Where I live we have had a NON Stop Crime Waive since 1971. We have gotten NO RELIEF from Law Enforcement whatsoever. I have no intention of “taking the law in to my own hands, however I had to close my Business ELEVEN YEARS Ago, to sit here and GUARD the property. It is so BAD, I CANNOT leave this property unattended. It has made a pauper out of me. Don’t say “Why don’t you MOVE?”, unless you are willing to buy it. It is a FARM by the way. BB
mr. maclean, i was just wondering what did the people of skidmore think about trena. did they like her or not , was she mean too ? just wondering how the locals felt about her also. thanks-nicole
why did she leave skidmore ? was it because she met someone , or just to get away ? i know she passed on , glad to hear she was happy later on & found a guy who i heard was madly devoted to her. glad to know her life had a happy ending so to speak.
She left with her kid and Alice and her the night of the shooting. She was convinced the townspeople were still bent on killing her as well.
if they wanted to kill her , they would have just shot her along with ken,THEY LET HER LIVE. they could have very easily put a bullet in the back of her head too. they showed her some mercy by letting her walk away.it was ken who they wanted to get rid of, he pushed them just a little too far & it cost him his life. she had to move,didnt have a choice. her husband was murdered & she could;nt stick around town looking over her shoulder everytime she stepped outside, wondering if somebody was going to get her too , besides they burned the house down anyway didnt they? trena did the right thing by leaving skidmore, no way in hell she could stick around & i’m sure she never went back to visit, she wouldv’e been outta her mind to do so. if that’s true she rode shotgun for ken near the end , shE was real lucky somebody didnt put a bullet in the back of her head too, so the townspeople cut the head off the snake , so to speak & killed ken.
The people in Skidmore were by and large very hostile to her. They understood she had been in essence captured by McElroy as a young girl, but by the end she was riding shotgun for him and pulling weapons on people and threatening to shoot them. The last straw was when she sued the town and the mayor of wrongful death of her husband. The women in own tended to be a little kinder to her.
reno lives in langeloth pa – washington county. 717 people, hmmmmmm a small town just a little bigger than skidmore- makes you wonder ? another male mcelroy in a small town. who knows harry – might be another award winning edgar prize book in it for you.
Harry, I enjoyed “In Broad Daylight” immensely. Just purchased “The Story Behind” . You are a very gifted writer and I look forward to reading your other works.
Two questions have occurred to me.The first, being that there may have been three shooters, but only one fatal shot. It would have been interesting to know whether Del was firing the 22 cal or not. If the guns were ever matched to the participants would the 22 owner be the only one charged with murder? Second. Following driving instructions laid out in the book I attempted to find the McElroy farm. Google earth doesn’t recognize a Valley Rd. off of RT. ZZ. Has the road been renamed and is the farm still in existence?
I have found this whole drama so very intriguing for quite a while. While I personally know nothing of the case other than what I’ve read over the years- One thing I wonder about… Were ANY of the town’s weapons confiscated and or tested to ballistics back then? Or could they have been tested back in the day? I don’t condone killing such as this but fully understand how a town could have finally had ENOUGH. And for a WHOLE town to stay silent since 1981 is astonishing..I lived in St. Louis at the time and remember all the media stories on it. Nothing will ever come to light. Not after 35 years. And even if something of a glimmer came to pass, who would believe it after all this time?
No testing of weapons was performed,as far as I am aware. The weapons used in the shooting were disposed of by the owners and friends.
Some internet accounts have one of the rifles being a 30-30. Other accounts say an 8 mm. What accounts for the discrepancy?
I think one of the rifles used in McElroy’s shooting was a Winchester 94 (or Marlin 336) chambered in 32 Winchester Special.
The rifle was probably mis-identified by witnesses (perhaps on purpose) as a 30-30. The vast majority of these rifles were chambered in 30-30; the Winchester 94 is practically synonymous with the 30-30 chambering. But thousands were chambered in 32 W.S. Even an expert at anything past reading distance would not be able to tell the difference between the two.
A bullet must have been recovered from the crime scene. Bullets for the 32 W.S. measure .321″ in diameter; bullets for the 8 mm measure .323″ in diameter. The bullet must have been mis-identified as an 8 mm bullet; just 2 thousands of an inch different.
Interesting. Thanks for the comment.
Sheesh. You are all over the place. I grew up there. Ken Rex was bad news from day one. The rapes, arson, shootings were well known. When the law refused to deal with him and people feared for their lives they did what they thought they had to do to survive. That is the the bottom line.
I know Treena passed,which is so sad, she had a terrible life . I would like to know what happened to her family. I remember playing with her brothers and little sister as a child. . I remember Alice and thinking she is not much older then me yet she is with this guy and Treena is having his baby, and yet she was just a child
Her folks were always nice people. I can remember them going into hiding after the house fire. We made several trips to see them after that and while my mother would here from Ronnie and Treva from time to time we never knew where they were . Life forced us to leave the area for a time and we totally lost contact with the family.
I remember Ken well. The town did what needed to be done.. If anyone has information on Treena family I would love to know what happened to them all .
I was in Skidmore once and innocently asked about the shooting, I was told to mind my own business or I would wind up like Ken shot from behind. The man who told me this said they all had the backbone of a jellyfish and nobody in town had the guts to have a gun duel with McElroy.
I’ve been investigating this from a crime scene point and have a couple of questions. 1. I know for an absolute FACT that ballistics (as far as a crime scene investigations are concerned) have been around for a very long time. Way Way before 1981. So why was there NO bullet recovered and inspected? 2. Why wasn’t the surrounding area taped off and secured by law enforcement for the investigation? 3. Why wasn’t the pickup secured immediately by the first Officer who arrived on scene? Bystanders were aloud to crowd around the vehicle even after Officers arrived. Then is was simply hauled off by a wrecker and taken to the insurance company. I believe Ken got what he deserved. But, I also believe so much evidence was either contaminated by bystanders or simply was taken away. Not a single bullet was recovered? Really???
How do they know that he was shot with a .22 and a .308 if they didn’t run ballistics?
Harry, I love this book for more than the story itself,which is amazing. I have a first issue hard copy that was my grandfathers and he left to me after his passing in 2006. I identify with the descriptions of rural Missouri,in that timeframe,growing up at that time in the same setting in central Missouri.
My grandfather loved this book, I believe, because he had heard stories about McElroy through various coffee shops and cafes. Knew people that had bought or traded coonhounds with/from him. He told me when he had finished the book that he had met McElroy in Marshall MO at a cattle sale in 1979 or 80 and that Ken was selling cattle at $.50 on the dollar in the parking lot. Not knowing who Ken was before someone had told him. He told me Ken had a presence but that he wasn’t scared or intimidated by him. He simply declined the offer knowing that the cattle were” hot”. He could never understand why the townspeople had tolerated so much before acting. I don’t believe my grandfather would have and that’s why it bothered him so much.
My grandfather rarely left his farm farther than 20 or 30 miles. In 2002 I convinced him to take a road trip with me for the day and headed to Skidmore. We traced most of the roads you described in the book with cheat cards I had made lol. Eventually sitting on a sidewalk across the street from what was the D&B. We drove back home talking about other things like life and baseball.
He never brought up the book or this story again.
Thanks for taking the time to write. I hear more and more stories as time goes on. I suspect there are hundreds more out there. I hadn’t heard the one about him selling cattle in the parking lot. He was bold, to say the least. The town lost faith in itself, is the way I see it. The irony of course is that the way they got it back was to take a man’s life. I’m pleased that your grandfather and you liked the book so much. There will never be another story like this one.
I loved the book Harry, very well done.
The irony of this entire story is too rich to ignore.
I watched a YouTube video of you, the lawyer and family members on the talk show. The scum-bag lawyer and family members were genuinely angry that the killers had not been brought to justice. Yet, it was in fact the very same legal system that allowed Ken McElroy to get away with what he did for all those years, also failed to bring his killers to justice.
Fitting, I would say.
That was what infuriated the townspeople. The same cops who ignored McElroy’s crimes were rousting them trying to find his killers. One farmer told me: The killers should be given medals for what they did. They should be strung up for the way they did it. (Meaning on the mainstreet of town, in front of 45 witnesses).
Justice was served.
I was trying to look at the site of Mcelroy’s farm on google earth. I don’t see a “valley road”..maybe it was renamed? Did he live on the east or west side…thanks
Valley Road was renamed after 9/11, as a county road, the number of which escapes me at the moment. It was on the west side of the road.
Do you think it might be Delta Road…I was looking on Google earth. Or is it a numbered road??
I think it is Delta Road. After you turn off V, you go a few miles, hit a curve, and Tim’s house is on the right. Further on, not too far, is the lot where Ken’s house once stood.
Looking at Google Maps, it appears the Delta runs North/South from V, and then after the first curve, runs East/West for a bit, and then after another sharp curve, heads North/South again. There’s what appears to be a formerly occupied lot on the south side of Delta, just before the second sharp curve. Is that where Ken’s house was?
I would have to drive it to be sure, but it sounds like it. My spatial sense is not the best.
I also was attempting to use Google Earth to observe the former Ken Rex house. Using your description and Harry’s, I do see a pile of former house debris just almost as you reach that second curve where the road turns south again. And using Harry’s “west side” comment, that pile of debris is on the west side of the road after it turns south.
Furthermore, I just purchased the E version of Harry’s book and within its first section, he mentions that specific road and how the former coon hunting area of Ken Rex is down that road a total of 3 miles. (two increments noted in his description). So the debris pile falls at the 2 mile point. Maybe his hunting area was that additional mile.
Thus, the debris pile I see is on the south side of the road just before the second turn at the corner at mile 2, and then on the west side of that same road after it turns southbound. You can use the computer to measure the distance by right clicking and using “measure distance” from point to point.
I just came across Harry’s description of the location of the McElroy house. “In the middle of the second curve” on Valley Road.
As I mentioned above, using Google Earth, you can see the remains of a structure still there. The image by Google is dated 2019.
Harry’s book says there was a smaller house on the property, too, where the younger brother Tim lived after the killing. The two story house was boarded up and the dogs / cages / pick ups were gone not long after the killing.
The property appears fenced off & unused but adjacent to a larger property containing a current and newish residence.
In closing here, I have to say that of all I read, I could easily visualize the McElroy Clan. And I don’t have a good opinion of them. They reminded me of another family I once met who also blamed everyone else for the troubles they created for themselves.
The man I’m thinking of, one time, was merely asked by the Los Angeles Police to move his double parked 18 wheeler. The driver, whom I knew, with a gut like Ken Rex McElroy… told the LAPD…. “You’re not big enough to make me move.” He was blocking a full lane of traffic as he got himself a coffee / pastry… and it was the cops fault that there was trouble. They made him move. All ten cops.
i passed through skidmore last summer & talked to a few old timers who were around back in the early 80’s when kenny was roaming the streets ….had a nice conversation until you bring up mc elroys name ….they all turn a pale white & ghastly & then u smell an odor …its only then that u realize they shit all over themselves ….. ken rex mc elroy still brings fear to skidmore old timers , they HATED THAT MAN
Im not going to comment on Mcelroys death, but all the small towns in America! When we went on the N.W.O. THAT DESTROYED towns across America! Bringing in meat and dairy products from U.K. countries. thats why this towns are falling into disrepair–not just Skidmore! I came from a town just like that–had 1500 people and now has 230. farmers used to go to town to buy their shoes for the kids and groceries–now there are no farmers. i lived 14 miles from town and there were 20–now nothing!!
I know how people get frustrated and i realize how this happened with mcelroy!
Sad but true. I’ve lived in both large cities and small, rural towns, and without the farmers, small towns will struggle to survive. As cities become larger, small towns (those beyond the suburban area of cities) become smaller, and unless family farmers have some price support, it’s unlikely they’ll survive, and many small towns will die with them. Skidmore is just one of many victims of small town plight.
Well said. I just heard that a new cafe has opened in Skidmore, in the old B & B grocery store.
I saw the new restaurant on Facebook (called Goodtime Charlies of Skidmore, Mo.), and it looks pretty nice. Judging from the photos on FB, it appears that it may be where the Bowenkamp’s grocery store was located (judging from photos I saw in your book “In Broad Daylight”, and some YouTube videos that tourists have posted). I hope Skidmore survives, it’s had a tragic history and deserves a break.
I was in Skidmore last Thursday. Me and my 2 sisters decided to check it out as it was less than 2 hours from where we live. Good Time Charlies is very clean and much nicer than I had expected. The food was quite good and the young waitress was very hospitable. When we went in, it wasn’t busy at all. There was a table of much older people in one of the booths but I knew better than to ask anyone any questions. I did get the side eye from someone who walked in though, when I was by the front door looking at the photos on the wall. (Let’s just say me and my sisters definitely don’t blend in with the locals).
I have heard about this case since I was a little girl and remember it on the news but at that time I didn’t pay any attention to it. I have yet to read In Broad Daylight but will be purchasing it very soon.
My question is: Is there any interviews or documentation regarding Trena’s opinions on McElroy as she got older and remarried? I read on your blog a granddaughter said she was happily remarried and had a nice life which is great. Honestly, she has the townspeople to thank for that because his death was the reason she was able to move on and find her happiness with another man. In No One Saw A Thing we only saw her defending him but I wonder what her opinion was when she was older and able to feel her freedom from him and the rest of his family.
I look forward to reading your book.
No one saw a thing is a piece of junk. When I talked with Trena, she was no longer defending McElroy. She hesitated to bad mouth him, however, for the sake of the kids. She owed her new life to the town is an interesting idea and one I hadn’t thought of.
Ten children, 15 year old wife with him in the truck.
Not rocket science..
While I know no one in this story or in the town I feel compelled to add my personal thoughts. I remember when this happened. Thought about it last night, did a internet search and here I am. The guy was obviously a bad, mean, thief, rapist , and bully. I admire the town for keeping their mouths shut, and the people who took up arms and took care of business.
Anyone that has the courage to stand up to a bully and shoot him is no coward in my book. While I understand that Harry MacLean and one of the alleged shooters have bad blood between them. I don’t agree with calling him a coward, at least not for the shooting. He may be a lot f things, but he’s not a coward in this one instance.
i read that TRENA CLAIMED 2 have known who 1 of the shooters were …WHO WAS IT SHE NAMED ?
Why no photos of Del ? I see the obit photo for the second alleged shooter.
Who was the the second alleged shooter? And where can you find his photo?
i wonder what wouldve happened if some of the guys in town reached out to him , talk to him , have a beer …be pals . did ANYONE try to have a freindship with him ? or was he just so mean & un approachable that it wasnt worth the effort. its to bad he died the way he did . i wonder if the gentleman was mentally ill ? . the whole story about skidmore is sad & shameful, from what he did & the murder by the towns people . on the SKIDMORE TOPIS PAGE someone put a post on their something about a photograph a man had taken that morning , he was at the gas station caddy corner & saw something going down , pulled out a camera & snapped off a few shots & threw camera back in car . he is suppossedly dying & wants truth to come out .
What has come of this?
Hi, I’m doing a school project on the murder of Ken Rex McElroy. I found this topic intriguing because of all of the controversy and opinions surrounding it. I chose to prove that murder is not justified, no matter the circumstances. This does not mean I think that Ken did not deserve his fate or that I support his actions in any way, I simply believe that he should not have been murdered in the way he was. I understand that people may disagree. Also, I’m kind of curious about how this event affected other people and america…. Thoughts?
I visited Skidmore in 2014. I went into the gas station.. kinda had this wierd feeling as i walked in. Some guys were playing cards at a table. None broke stride, or looked at me, but i am sure they new i was a stranger, in town. I met the current owner, who quietly said to not ask the Ultimate Question. I said i wouldnt. I bought a pop, and asked where the Bowencamps were buried. He was friendly and gave me directions to the cemetery. I commented on how nice the station was, and asked if they worked on cars, as i noticed what looked to be an attached garage. I gentleman said he used to own it. t was Mr Sumy. I shook hands with him. I am not sure if he was the same Mr Sumy in the book. But we exchanged some small talk, and I left. I walked over to the old d and g, and was going to look in through the window, but thought i had better not push my luck. walked around the back of the old grocery, then looked at the buildings and grocery, out front. I couldnt help getting the “willies.” I thing Mcelroys spirit does haunt the place. Ghost town, for sure. And the girl killed for her baby, and the branson boy. Too bad. so, so, sad.
i was there as was my father. i never took no oath to nothing. and yes ken got his ass handed to him a couple times. and yes he kept harassing the clements and you are right. del would never be man enough to face any one face to face. the reason ken was a bully is he got tired of folks picking on him. he was wrong for scarring folks. but the town was wrong to.. i have pictures facts and 2 others that were at the old service station with me the day he was gunned down. skidmore is not a tuff town at all. they all still kring when you mention his name. we were from east omaha and knew ken well. we tolerated him doesnt meen we liked him. but he new not to cross paths with my father and i in a bad way. and im not affraid to say yes del was the main shooter. i just got back to the states this year was in italy taking care of a family member for some time. maybee its time for facts and proof to come out now.
Thanks for your thoughts. Can I get in touch with you at your email? I’d me interested in your thoughts and facts.
Bear, I loved Skidmore in late 70’s and early 80’s. I spent many many weeks and weekends with my grandparents there. I still look upon the town for all the nice things and nice people who were beyond friendly to me. As I understand it and read your post, you were on the same corner as my grand father that morning opposite of Sumy’s. Is there anyway you could confirm this for me? Thank you
Hi I’m looking into this case as part of my Extended Project Qualification and would like to know whether or not you believe that McElroy’s murder was justifiable?
Love both your books on the subject, Harry. Thoroughly engrossing, it’s easy to see how this became a bit of an obsession for you, for lack of a better word, and I’ve turned a few of my friends onto the subject along the way.
In this age of instant access to information whereby nothing is left to the imagination and anything may be dialed up in the space of a few keystrokes, it’s interesting how the coroner’s photos you mentioned are unavailable, seemingly anywhere. Yes, I’ll admit it’s rather ghoulish, but as time moves on and the principal players pass, they become less based in reality for the reader and more like characters in a great play. Hell, at my age, JFK has always been the guy who got his head blown off in Dallas, if you’ll forgive me for being blunt.
The whole story is somewhat lurid, given all the components of KRM’s misdeeds and crimes. If I may ask, just suppose for a moment you were able to speak with him. How would you attempt to relate to him? What would you say to him? Is there a part of you which may sympathize with the certain aspect in his personality which suggests that, at his core, he felt inferior to land-owning farmers?
As for myself, and this lends itself to my statement about the passage of time and how it can cleanse some of the more untoward facts in the drama, I’ve always cheered for the bad guy wrestlers. Tonight I rooted for the New England Patriots to beat the Chiefs! Personally, I can see how Ken Rex may be regarded as somewhat of an anti-hero, not unlike Dillinger or the James Gang. Granted, one needs to gloss over the statutory rape. But with time… I enjoy the outrage I can provoke on YouTube by maintaining Ken Rex was merely a bad ass, and you’re all just jealous. (Tongue firmly in cheek.)
Anyway, fascinating stuff. Thanks…
Compelling read. Thank you. Made me do a bit of searching on my own recently. I was born in St. Joe; lived there until I married in mid 70’s. My house on Safari Drive backed up to the cemetery where McElroy is now buried. All the towns mentioned were familiar to me. Remember the incident well, and couldn’t read enough about it at the time. I don’t know how I missed your book then, but so glad I have read it now. I currently live in Springfield, Missouri, and may just have to take a trip to Trena’s grave site in Conway.
Was anyone from Law Enforcement in that area ever disciplined or fired for their utter failure in protecting the people of the area from this piece of trash?
Really pathetic that honest, law abiding citizens need to take matters into their own hands.
This has certainly been an interesting read. I’ve been watching “No One Saw a Thing” on Sundance. It has dredged up so much. My son still has the book “In Broad Daylight” because I was married to Ken’s nephew. My mother-in-law was a McElroy. I was in college (NWMSU) when all of this was happening. I was good friends with the town Marshall, David Dunbar. One night, he came by completely distressed because KRM had cornered him in an alley and threatened him not to testify. This was before I knew my first husband. Honestly, the story he told me about this man sounded so far-fetched. How could someone get away with these kinds of crimes for so long?!
That summer…1981…I met my future husband, KRM’s nephew, at my summer job. I had NO idea he was related and he had grown up in California, so he didn’t really talk about his mom’s family. I knew he was gone from work the same day as Ken’s funeral but didn’t put anything together. My mother-in-law never believed the stories, of course. I mean, I guess we all don’t want to think our family members could do that. My husband, on the other hand, believed it but we didn’t talk about it much.
My first teaching job ended up being … in Skidmore. On my first day of teaching, a little hand went up in the back of the class and this sweet boy said, “You’re uncle shot my dad”. It was David Henry, Romaine’s son. I took a deep breath and said he wasn’t my uncle and I had never known him. Nothing more was said…but obviously…the town had already vetted me. I loved those kiddos very much and taught there for a few years before stopping to raise my family.
I also was good friends with David Baird. He was a fabulous man and I truly believed he ALWAYS tried to do the right thing. Your book, I guess, is a part of our family history, in a weird way. I feel for the people of Skidmore. They did not deserve any of this.
I was 13 when my father myself and my two sisters. Both younger than i.. Was at the D&G
Sitting just the next table in front of Kenrex and Trina..we were told by the owner that you need
To get these girls out of here trouble was getting ready to happen. She had our food ready to go
In syrafoam boxes and put it on dads tab to pay later.
He rushed us out to the car. Kenrex and Trina stood up said good to see you.. Take care. As we
Walked out the door. I seen the croud of people on the other side of the street walk. Slowly twords
The nice pickup Kenrex And Trina had just gotten into. By this time we was turning at top of the hill
And we did not witness the actual shooting. .. But there was. Many people i knew standing around.
Yes it was Clements bullet who killed him. The raging celebrations in all the bars around ..was to me
Sickening… There was reasons Kenrex was the way he was.. That area. Is hostile.. Cruel people .
As a child he was abused by alot of them.ridiculed..cut down. AND INTO ADULTHOOD. He always said…
Someday he would get even. Right and wrong WAS ON BOTH SIDES. ..why do you think those small
towns are mear gone now?
This has been a fascinating read indeed. On the face of it I have no problems with McElroy having been ended. I only feel for the town. It’s hard to live with a secret , a sin like that.
I heard that some people went to Ken Rex’s grave in St. Joe to dig up his body, but they found NO HUMAN REMAINS!!
It’s CIRRHOSIS of the liver – NOT sclerosis of the liver. Just saying. 😉
This is such an intriguing story. I think when the last person involved in KRMc’s killing dies, then the truth will be told. Until then, mum’s the word.
EVERYONE has a breaking point. In this case, Ken pushed an entire town to their breaking point. It didn’t have to end like this if the law did their job.
Hi Harry I loved reading the book I have a question I know there was a made for TV movie made, have you been approached on making a newer version of a movie?
Same title. You can find it on YouTube, starring Brian Denehey.
I have been, at least twice a year. Unfortunately, NBC owns the rights, and they would have to agree to sell them, which they are apparently not likely to do.
Maybe if the District Attorney would offer immunity to anyone who witnessed or was involved in McElroy’s death the rest of the story could be told and the case closed. It would be interesting to know how this incident changed Skidmore and it’s people. I’m sure the shooting came up after a few beers, it would be a hard thing to live with. I believe that Del Clement was the main shooter on impulse. He probably had enough of McElroy chasing his bar customers away. Yesterday I came across an obituary of Trooper Richard Stratton, may he rest in peace. He ended up having six children and many grandchildren. Finally, there is some confusion on the rifles used. Some are saying they were a .22 and a 30-30. I read they found .22 magnum and 8 mm Mauser casings in the street. There’s a big difference between a .22 and a .22 mag. In the movie they show the 1st person grabbing what could be a .22 or 22 mag, 2nd person grabs a 30-30 and the 3 person grabs a shotgun from the trunk of a car. Can you give the straight scoop on that?.
You’re right about how the shooting went down. I relied on the FBI report on stating on the caliber of the shells. The third person with the shotgun was always a theory, but never proven. Trena only witnessed Clement with a rifle. I believe there was a third gun, but whether it fired or not is another question.
I honestly don’t think it matters who killed McElroy; might as well say all of Skidmore committed a justifiable homicide, in self defence. If Clement was one of the gunment, he was just protecting his neighbors. I don’t blame anyone involved for the fact that there was never any trial in this particular case.
But I will say that incidents like this are why it’s so important to have a working justice system. Without justice, people *will* resort to extra-legal violence to right wrongs and settle scores. That’s how human nature works. McElroy should have been taken care of by law enforcement officers and the courts. Since neither did their jobs, well, this is what happens.
Very well said.
Google …… THE TOWN BULLY OF TOULON , just like rex mcelroy , the guy liked to intimidate people & they were scared to death of this guy so instead of confronting him people went outta their way to avoid him . dude eventually got arrested & while in police custody he hung himself
I’ll check it out.
Hi Harry, I would like to know which books you have on the case of Ken McElroy of Skidmore aka the town bully. I just came across a brief posting about him on Facebook and true crime always fascinates me. I would love to read your writings about this town and man! Especially because you researched it so heavily in Skidmore for YEARS. After reading the brief and not so informative posting on Facebook, I then Google Ken’s name and began reading more about it and finally one of the links brought me to your comment thread here!
In Broad Daylight is the name of the book, and there is a follow up called The Story Behind In Broad Daylight. You can also find the movie by the same name on You Tube.
Ken Tex McElroy had it coming. Shot in back or front makes no difference. He was a pedophile that raped 12 year old girls. Burnt their parents’ homes too. Stole what did not belong to him. Shot a man in the stomach with a shot gun! Shot an old man because the old man’s wife told Ken’s daughter that stealing was “not nice”. The old man let the child have the candy anyway. THAT wasn’t enough for Trena & Ken,( they should had admonished their child) but oh no, they had to make a nuisance of themselves and culminating in Ken shooting an elderly man. Shooting an innocent elderly unarmed man is cowardice. Ken was the coward & the bully. AND the pedophile I will add, yet again.
And here we are in 2021 & some insist the shooter of Ken was a “coward”. No. He was most certainly not. He ( the shooter) brought peace & saved the lives of many. Ken would had sooner or later murdered. Good riddance to bastards like Ken! And all honor & thanks to he/ they that executed him. He had it coming & it came! ALL cowards that rape children, burn peoples’ homes, shoot close range into unarmed peoples’ stomach & shoot hard working elderly frail innocent people deserve a shot in the back of their heads. Or into their mouths.
Hi Harry. I’m curious why you felt “No One Saw A Thing” was junk. Can you talk a bit more about the series?
The entire show was strung together to prove some hypothesis the director/producers had before stepping foot in the town. The people commenting were not representative of the town. I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t reading from prepared scripts. I’m so glad I had nothing to do with it.
Too bad it had have been done sooner. McElroy was a brutal bully who kept a town terrified for years. He was a man with a black soul and got exactly what he deserved.
Where can one read your interview with Trena when she no longer defended Ken Rex ? I’d really like to read that !!
Its in the book In Broad Daylight, toward the end.
They found indents in the aluminum frame of the rear window of the Silverado consistent with bird shot from a shot gun,
I would say that the shotgun was the first thing fired then shots rang from the other 2 guns, one being fired instantly after the shotgun blast which took out the window.
If someone would have cut his hands off for stealing some years before it got so bad things wouldn’t have gone as far as they did either..
It’s so hard to imagine that he was not dealt with long before, I mean a good beat down every time he came to town.
But to no surprise people wait till its too late then act out in the wrong way if it’s wrong.
It’s the American Way! After all look at the thug #45…