Sometimes we have to go to extreme lengths in order to solve a problem. Many times, it’s not an ideal path to relief, but if it’s the only way to rid something, then it’s a path that must be taken.
When one local man wouldn’t stop terrifying the residents of his tiny hometown, everyone thought that the situation was hopeless. But then, the community reached their breaking point and did something unthinkable…
Ken McElroy was the most hated man in Skidmore, Missouri, plain and simple. He was a big, burly guy who used his aggressive demeanor to frighten town residents and always get his way. He was a problem that needed to be stopped.
In the small town with less than 300 residents, McElroy’s negative presence was felt by nearly everyone. He did whatever he wanted to without consequence, and no one knew this better than a girl named Trena McCloud.
When McElroy met McCloud in the early 1970s, she wasn’t even of legal age; she was 12. But that didn’t stop McElroy. Two years after they met, Trena became pregnant, and McElroy did something that shocked the town…
He actually moved Trena into his home that he shared with his then-wife, Alice! Naturally, Alice was horrified by his blatant infidelity and decided to leave him. Once Trena finally gave birth, things got even worse.
According to court documents, she fled back to her parents’ house after she had her child, afraid of McElroy’s temperament. Upon learning Trena’s mother and stepfather didn’t want her to see him again, McElroy set their house on fire. But that wasn’t the only trouble McElroy started…
A farmer named Romaine Henry reportedly was shot at by McElroy because he confronted him about illegally shooting his gun on his farmland. McElroy was arrested, but he managed to convince two hunters to say he was with them during the time of the shooting, so he was acquitted.
Perhaps the worst crime McElroy committed was the murder of Ernest Bowenkamp, the town grocery store owner. Bowenkamp accused McElroy’s daughter of stealing candy, which infuriated McElroy so much that he shot and killed him. Since there were no witnesses, McElroy evaded charges yet again.
After the death of Bowenkamp, the people of Skidmore were done. It was time they put their foot down once and for all. But, what exactly were they going to do about their murderous local bully?
Nearly all of the Skidmore residents held a secret town meeting where they shared their complaints and fears about McElroy. After much deliberation, they came up with a sinister solution…
Early the next morning, some residents noticed McElroy and Trena sitting in a parked truck outside of the local bar where he spent much of his time over-indulging in alcohol. It was now time for McElroy to pay for all the crimes he got away with.
A large group of disgruntled residents approached McElroy’s truck and surrounded it. A few of them started shouting, but McElroy sat unphased by the angry townsfolk. He lit up a cigarette, and that’s when fate finally caught up to him…
Suddenly, several gunshots rang out! McElroy was struck and killed, and Trena was left screaming in the car. However, no one even tried to help McElroy. This was the plan the whole time; to rid their town of his abuse forever.
After the crowd parted ways, police soon arrived at the scene. They determined there were two shooters, one who fired from behind the truck and one who fired from roughly one block away. But, who were they?
The FBI, along with the local police, conducted nearly 100 interviews with residents of the town, but no arrests were ever made. The people of Skidmore refused to divulge any information, so it was impossible to make any indictments. As far as the residents were concerned, they were better off without McElroy.
As you can imagine, McElroy’s funeral wasn’t attended by many people. Trena tried to blame a local business owner for McElroy’s murder, but again, no confessions were made and no one corroborated her accusation.
McElroy was buried in Saint Joseph’s Memorial Park in Missouri. The words inscribed on his headstone read “brave, fearless, and compassionate.” Most people who knew McElroy probably wouldn’t agree he was full of compassion.
Trena filed a wrongful death suit and tried seeking $6 million, but she only ended up with an out-of-court settlement for $17,000. She left Skidmore soon after, married, and moved to Lebanon, Missouri, where she lived until her passing in 2012.
The incident in Skidmore was so bizarre and mysterious that it gained national coverage. There was even a book written about it and two made-for-television movies. People were intrigued by the tale of vigilante justice.
Still to this day, police haven’t found a single clue linking any residents of Skidmore to the murder of Ken McElroy. It seemed as though the town was willing to get blood on their hands in order to finally restore peace.
How wild is this story? It seems like something out of a fiction movie, which is why it got so much coverage when it happened. There’s a cloud that’s been hanging over the town of Skidmore ever since McElroy’s death, but it’s a much lighter one than before.
Will the world ever know who was behind the shooting of Ken McElroy? As of now, it certainly doesn’t seem that way…
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