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In Broad Daylight
by Harry N. MacLean
True Crime Books (31)
Edgar Award (98)
No current Talk conversations about this book.
Really liked it. I can see that some people thougth the story was slow, maybe it was but i did not mind that so much. I wanted to know a bit more about trena though. Nobody confronted her about what she did and she got away with money as well. grrrrr
Reviewed by Mrs. Foley
A case study of the vigilante style death of Ken McElroy in 1981 in Skidmore, Missouri. - library catalog description
Wow! Intersting, true story...frustrating too. Not a very positive commentary on our judicial system.
Review from Publisher's Weekly:
Ken Rex McElroy terrorized the residents of several counties in northwestern Missouri for a score of years. He raped young girls and brutalized them after they went to live with him or even married him; he shot at least two men; he stole cattle and hogs, and burned down the houses of some who interfered with his criminal activities. Thanks to the expert efforts of his lawyer and the pro-defendant bias of state laws, he served no more than a few days in jail, the author shows. In 1981, sentenced for the shooting of a popular grocer and free on bail, he was killed by the men of Skidmore, the center of his felonies; they closed ranks against all attempts to identify those who had pulled the triggers. Written by a first-time author, this is an engrossing, credible examination of the way vigilante action can take over when the law appears to be powerless.
Very thorough if a little dry at times, this is an excellent portrayal of how one person or family can intimidate a small community.
Unusual true crime: The bad guy isn't the one who commits the crime that the book is really about.
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Wikipedia in English (2)
FOR TEN YEARS, HE TERRORIZED THEM WITHOUT MERCY… Ken McElroy robbed, raped, burned, shot, and maimed the citizens of Skidmore, Missouri, without conscience or remorse. Again and again, the law had failed to stop him. UNTIL THEY TOOK JUSTICE INTO THEIR OWN HANDS. On July 10, 1981, Ken was shot to death on the main street of this small farming community. Forty-five people watched. No indictments were ever issued, no trial held…and the town of Skidmore protected the killers with silence. With this powerful, true-life account, Edgar Award-winning author Harry N. MacLean reveals what drove a community of everyday American citizens to commit murder… IN BROAD DAYLIGHT
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)364.1509778124Social sciences Social problems and services; associations Criminology Crimes and Offenses Offenses against persons
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“Where were you when he was shot?”
“Standing in front of the tavern.”
“Did you see anything?”
“No, I didn’t see a thing. I heard something, a couple of shots and then I hit the ground. There were more shots and, by the time I got up, it was all over.”
There were forty-five witnesses to the shooting and none of them saw anything. Of course that was impossible, most of them knew who shot McElroy.
In a news report about the killing, the announcer reported the Ken was “the most hated and feared man in Nodaway County.” Even the police and at least one judge were afraid of him. He had a history, he robbed, raped, burned (as in committed arson), and shot the citizens of Skidmore, Missouri. If anyone pressed charges, while waiting to go to trial, his lawyer would delay the trail as long as possible and McElroy would terrorize the witnesses. In one case, the bedroom window of a witness faced the road. He and his wife would wake to find a bright light flashing around the walls. When the husband would peek out the window, he say McElroy’s car parked on the road. As a result of these tactics, many times witnesses changed their stories or simply disappeared. Often the victims trying to get justice felt isolated because everyone was too afraid of McEroy to support them.
With all this it is easy to see how the townspeople felt the only way they could get justice was to take matters into their own hands. And so they did. The media called the shooting a vigilante killing which the town objected to, and in the strictest sense of the word it wasn’t, but still …… there is no denying the fact that some people made themselves judge, jury and executioner.
MacLean interviewed the people of Skidmore, he also consulted interviews that were taken right after the shooting, by a person who was not law enforcement. We get the full life story of Ken McElroy, MacLean also takes us through the year so we get a feel for the type of community it was. He also explains the idiosyncrasies of Missouri law, which is another reason people may have felt McElroy was getting away with his crimes. The fear and inaction of some people may have also fueled the towns peoples frustration and while you may not agree with their actions, you can certainly understand it.
One person I felt sorry for, which some may not understand or agree with was McElroy’s wife Trena. I feel she is another of Ken’s victims, her actions after he was killed are understandable and can be explained.
I enjoyed this book and recommend it to true crime fans. ( )