Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ken McElroy

Skidmore Shrinks

Writers have described the McElroy shooting as Skidmore's "20-year nightmare that won't go away" and "a scab that is continually picked."

Ken McElroy
Ken McElroy

The small town will be forever linked to and tainted by the murder. Like many rural outposts in middle America, the population of the place has declined in the past 23 years—to about 350 people, down by nearly one-third.

Skidmore, Missouri painting
Skidmore, Missouri painting

Trena McElroy married again and moved away. A few of McElroy's children—roughly 15 of them by four women—are scattered about northwest Missouri. Most of the lawmen involved in the case have retired, although prosecutor Baird and defense attorney McFadin continue to practice law.

Bo Bowenkamp died 10 years after the shooting. Lois Bowenkamp went on to serve on the town council. Over the years, she has been the Skidmore resident to whom reporters have been able to turn for a quote about the McElroy shooting.

This is typical of her comments: "The town is well rid of him. Justice is served."

But she continues to harbor resentment that the criminal justice system had failed her family and her town.

"If they had done something to tell him he could not keep violating other persons' rights, it might have made a difference," Bowenkamp told the Kansas City Star in 2001. "I still don't think there was any...sense in it having to go as far as it did, and nobody else would have been put in jeopardy."

Some in Skidmore are less reflective about the ordeal. Dunbar, the former town marshal, said his neighbors had only one regret about the shooting.

"It's really a shame about the Silverado," he said. "That was a really nice truck."

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