Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ken McElroy

Intent to Kill

On July 27, 1976, a Skidmore farmer named Romaine Henry was working in his equipment shed when he heard gunshots that seemed to come from somewhere on his 1,000-acre property.

Romaine Henry
Romaine Henry

He got in his truck to investigate and soon came upon Ken McElroy's truck parked on a gravel road adjacent to Henry's land. McElroy stepped from behind his truck. He was holding a shotgun.

Henry, 41, stopped his vehicle. McElroy opened the passenger door, pointed the gun inside the cab and demanded, "Were you the dirty son of a bitch over at my place in a white Pontiac?"

Henry stuttered that he didn't know what McElroy was talking about. McElroy hollered another obscenity and fired the gun, hitting Henry in the torso. McElroy fired a second shot as the farmer scrambled out of the truck. More buckshot tore into his forehead and right cheek.

McElroy's shotgun jammed, and Henry used the opportunity to jump in his truck and speed off. His wife drove him to the hospital in Maryville. McElroy was arrested the next day and charged with assault with intent to kill. He denied shooting Henry and denied he was at the scene. Once again, McElroy beat a path to McFadin's office in Kansas City. The lawyer used his usual tactics—change-of-venue requests, repeated trial delays.

And McElroy used his. Henry said McElroy drove by or parked outside his home at least 100 times in the interim between the shooting and trial. He complained to the sheriff, who replied that he would talk to McElroy. Whether the talk happened or not, the visits from McElroy continued.

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