The town of Skidmore doesn’t live up to it’s name. It’s actually a nice quiet little town, so imagine the shock and disbelief surrounding a murder in Skidmore than no one will talk about. Let me say if you knew or were related to Ken McElroy, my apologies. I can only relate the case facts as I have found them.
July 10, 1981 was a strange day for a small Missouri town. Ken McElroy was murdered in broad daylight, with main street full of witnesses that all claimed they didn’t see the shooting.
From what I have heard and read, Ken McElroy was not a nice person. I’m sure like most people, he had his redeeming features, but I’ve never heard what those were. Leading up to that morning in July of 1981, McElroy had been arrested and tried for several crimes, including statutory rape. The witnesses or complaintants always backed out.
The Sheriff of Nodaway County Missouri was up to his elbows in tampering complaints. McElroy seemed so untouchable that there were rumors the Missouri State Highway Patrol was going to get involved. This is an important footnote, because in the 1980s and 1990s, the FBI actually sent FBI trainees to train with the Missouri Highway patrol. They were known as an elite investigative force and much like the Mounties, they always got their man.
Skidmore is north of Kansas City. So far north, it isn’t considered a suburb of the metropolitan area, meaning it is somewhere near Iowa and Nebraska. As opposed to Kansas or Oklahoma, like much of western MO. I’ve never been to Skidmore, so I couldn’t place the town on a map without Google Maps except to say it’s in Nodaway county way north of KC.
In 1980, McElroy was charged with attempted murder of a store owner he shot in the neck because of a disagreement regarding something stolen by either his child or grandchild. Ken McElroy was eventually arrested for assault, a much lesser charge than the second degree murder charge. However, it got the townspeople of Skidmore thinking about what they could do to stop McElroy.
The man had already gotten away with arson, statutory rape, and now second degree murder (although a number of people said it was premeditated which in Missouri would have made it First Degree Attempted Murder, not second degree attempted murder). To clarify, McElroy was getting his day drink on when he was killed. An angry mob, deciding vigilantism was the only way to stop McElroy stormed the bar where he was doing his day drinking.
The angry residents forced McElroy out of the bar by hurling verbal insults at him. The group of them convened in the parking lot. McElroy attepted to leave the scene which did not quiet the town residents down at all. It was at this point that someone fired a shot at McElroy that killed him.
Surprisingly, despite the large number of people, they all claimed not to see who anyone fire a gun. Sadly, they were mostly just glad to be rid of McElroy. A newspaper headline read “Skidmore Bully Dead”. Not murdered, dead. That is a huge distinction. Also, it emphasized McElroy was bullied the town and acted like he was above the law, in other words, it made McElroy out to be a bad guy, even though he’d been shot.
The Nodaway County Sheriff’s Office got flak for the killing, people claimed it wasn’t investigated very well at the time and that they failed to bring in the Missouri Highway Patrol to investigate the murder. There are some theories about who did it, but it remains an unsolved murder case in a county that rarely gets more than a petty theft complaint, let alone murder complaints. In the last decade, with cold case investigations gaining in fame and public interest, the Nodaway Sheriff’s Office has assigned more officers to the murder, however, when a town agrees they can live with a murder, it is unlikely that any amount of resources and personnel will solve it.