An Entire Community Made A Vigilante Pact To Kill The Town Bully And Kept It Quiet For 30 Years

Ken Rex McElroy was murdered on July 10, 1981, in one of the most bizarre cases authorities had ever encountered. It should have been open and shut - there were dozens of witnesses, and the shooting occurred in broad daylight - but it wound up being anything but. Despite the facts, the residents of Skidmore, MO, weren't so eager to talk and point fingers; in the end, no one came forward.

It sounds like the end of Road House, but it's no Hollywood fantasy. An entire town enacted vigilante justice on the man who terrorized them for years. Even though there were more than 30 witnesses to the small town murder, police still don't know who exactly ended McElroy's life. An entire community sick of being let down by the justice system took the law into their own hands and got away with it.


  • McElroy Was Struck Down In His Truck In The Middle Of The Day

    On the day of McElroy's passing, he was in his pickup truck with his wife, Trena. They were parked on the main street in Skidmore in broad daylight when they were surrounded by a disgruntled group of over 30 town residents. As McElroy nonchalantly reached to light a cigarette from the pack he had just bought, several shots were fired into the truck.

    He was struck in his head and neck while Trena screamed in horror. No one attempted to assist McElroy, and no one called an ambulance - the townsfolk had no intention of letting McElroy survive.

  • There Were At Least Two Shooters In The Crowd Of Over 30 Residents

    There Were At Least Two Shooters In The Crowd Of Over 30 Residents
    Video: YouTube

    There was more than one shooter present at the time of the murder, no doubt as part of an effort to make it difficult to ascertain who was responsible. One shot came from behind the truck, and another from a block away. Shell casings were found at the scene from a .22-caliber Magnum and an 8 mm Mauser - the latter of which has long-range capabilities.

    None of the witnesses would divulge any information. McElroy's wife, Trena, eventually accused Del Clement, a rancher and business owner in the town. Clement never confessed and was never charged. A coroner's jury didn't think there was evidence for an arrest warrant, and no one ever corroborated Trena's accusation. 

  • The FBI, Grand Juries, And County Prosecutors Couldn't Make Residents Talk

    County prosecutor David Baird put forth a grand jury, confident a suspect would be detained with so many witnesses in attendance. Despite this, no arrests were ever made or any suspects named. The FBI held over 100 interviews but was unable to find one shred of evidence to tie a single person to McElroy's sudden passing.

    The people of Skidmore refused to talk, so no indictments could be made.

  • McElroy's Final Foul Act Was Assaulting The Town Grocer

    In 1980, McElroy's daughter was accused of taking candy from the Skidmore town grocery, owned by 70-year-old Ernest "Bo" Bowenkamp. When McElroy was confronted over the matter, his response was to offer money to Mrs. Bowenkamp to fight his wife, Trena.

    McElroy then began spending time outside of the grocery in his pickup truck with his gun on hand. In July of that year, McElroy caught Bowenkamp on the store's dock waiting on a repairman. Bowenkamp told McElroy to leave, as he was trespassing. McElroy gave money to two young boys to go buy soda so that there would be no witnesses. Then, McElroy shot Bowenkamp in the neck.

  • Townspeople Were Holding A Meeting About McElroy The Day He Was Struck

    After shooting the town grocer and escaping punishment once again, the people of Skidmore decided to pool their efforts and protect witnesses set to attend a hearing to revoke McElroy's bond on the morning of July 10, 1981. McElroy was somehow able to get the hearing postponed, however, infuriating the town. 

    A town meeting was held to discuss McElroy, though no one knows if it was to further plan the protection of witnesses or to facilitate an act of retaliation.

  • McElroy's Widow Sued Skidmore

    In 1984, Trena filed a wrongful death suit against the county sheriff's office, the mayor, and Del Clement. Although she was seeking $6 million, the suit was settled out of court for just over $17,000, and no wrongdoing was admitted by any of the parties. The official reason for the suit failing to proceed further was a desire to avoid any costly legal fees. 

    Trena eventually remarried, left Skidmore, and moved to Lebanon, MO, where she passed away in January of 2012.