Marc Hoover: A small town traumatized by a bully

Marc Hoover

Bullying is a widespread problem. Unfortunately, it has led to suicide and years of mental problems for those who still suffer from the emotional damage. According to Stopbullying.gov:

Between 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school while others have been cyberbullied.

Most bullying happens in middle school. Common methods are verbal and social bullying.

Bullying is not a simple interaction between two students. Instead, it often involves groups of students who bully other students.

Do you ever wonder what happens to these bullies? You sometimes hear that Karma will handle them. You may believe in Karma after reading about a town traumatized by a bully. When it came to bullying, Ken McElroy was infamously known for his cruelty and as the worst bully in Skidmore, Missouri.

For many years, McElroy tormented and brutalized his Skidmore neighbors without many consequences. He had been charged with crimes like burglary, theft, arson, assault, and statutory rape. McElroy avoided justice because townspeople feared him. Although McElroy had wads of cash, he didn’t have a steady job. It most likely had something to do with the town’s missing livestock.

McElroy was also a child rapist. He met his wife Trena when she was 12, impregnated her and then married her when she was 14. The marriage kept him out of prison. It turned out he wasn’t much of a Son-in-Law as he shot her family’s dog and burned down their home after he felt they tried to interfere in the relationship.

It would take a near fatal tragedy to end McElroy’s reign of terror. In 1980, one of McElroy’s children was accused of stealing candy from a local store owned by Ernest “Bo” Bowenkamp and his wife Lois. McElroy didn’t take too kindly to the accusation. He confronted Bo Bowenkamp and shot him in the neck with a shotgun.

Bowenkamp survived the attack. After McElroy’s arrest for attempted murder and assault, he was released on bail. Sometime after his release, McElroy sat in the D&G Tavern with a rifle and said he would finish off Bowenkamp. He said it in front of witnesses with no fear of reprisal.

On July 10, 1981, neighbors gathered at the town’s Legion Hall and met with Sheriff Danny Estes to discuss how they could protect themselves from McElroy. During the meeting, McElroy and Trena had arrived in town and were drinking at the D & G Tavern.

Against Sheriff Estes’ wishes, the townspeople confronted McElroy and his wife after they left the tavern. As McElroy sat in his truck, shots rang out. McElroy died after being shot twice in front of nearly 50 witnesses. Trena, claimed a man named Del Clement shot her husband. But no one else in the town admitted to seeing anything. Trena also said no one called for medical assistance or tried to help McElroy. Someone even cleaned up the evidence from the crime scene. After an unsuccessful investigation, the DA didn’t charge anyone. Even the FBI couldn’t determine who killed McElroy because no one stepped forward with any information.

Today, the murder of former bully Ken McElroy remains unsolved. If anyone knows who did it, they still aren’t speaking. In 1984, Trena filed a wrongful death suit against the town. They settled with her for $17,600. She left town, remarried and died in January 2012. With Trena’s death went any potential hope of finding out who shot and killed Ken McElroy during a hot summer day in 1981. Did an entire town conspire to rid themselves of a bully?

McElroy has been dead for nearly four decades and no one is serving time for shooting him. Skidmore, Missouri still remains. As of 2010, just under 300 residents still live there. Richard Stratton, a former lawman at the time said law enforcement failed the people of Skidmore because the residents wouldn’t have resorted to vigilante justice had the law done its job.

Marc is a grandparent and longtime resident of Clermont County. Visit his author page at http://www.lifewithgrandpa.com. He also wrote Just Bite Me: A Guide to Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Walking Nightmares, which is available on Amazon.com.