Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ken McElroy

He Loved Children

McElroy married for the first time at age 18, in 1952. He spent time in Denver with his new bride, Oleta, but returned to Missouri because he couldn't hold a job.

During his 20s, McElroy became famous among his coon-hunting buddies for his eye for what he called "young meat"—adolescent girls. He bedded a series of teenagers, sometimes finding his quarry by hanging out at junior high school playgrounds. He befriended adolescent boys to gain entrée to their female peers.

He typically preyed upon children from poor, uneducated families. He charmed the girls with dime-store gifts and rides in his truck. Several of his victims became pregnant, and McElroy used payoffs and threats to assuage hard feelings by parents.

McElroy dumped Oleta after a few years and married a 15-year-old girl, Sharon.

With Sharon pregnant, McElroy began romancing a 13-year-old named Sally. When she balked at sex, he beat her and threatened to kill her father. She acquiesced, then moved in with Sharon and McElroy.

Ken McElroy with daughter Tonia
Ken McElroy with daughter Tonia

He had his first harem. The teenagers gave birth to a total of seven of McElroy's offspring. Sharon had children in 1961, '63, '64 and '65, and Sally in '61, '63 and '64.

In late 1964, with Sharon again pregnant and both young women with newborns, McElroy took up with Alice, a 15-year-old from St. Joseph, Mo., 50 miles south of Skidmore.

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