Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ken McElroy

The Town Reacts

Four days after his conviction, Ken McElroy strolled into the D&G Tavern carrying an M-1 assault rifle, complete with a sharpened bayonet. Ostensibly, he was looking to sell the gun. But as he sat at the bar beside Trena, an evil smile crossed McElroy's face as he began a description of how he would use the gun to finish off the job he started on Bo Bowenkamp. He took a clip from his pocket and clicked it into the magazine. He chambered a slug, and stood up to demonstrate his plan.

McElroy said he would shoot the old man in the head, then carve him up like a turkey with the bayonet.

The display prompted Pete Ward, a retired farmer, to storm out of the bar. He rallied his sons and a few others, who vowed to set up a watch to protect the Bowenkamps and their property. Ward reported the incident to authorities and joined three other witnesses from the bar in signing an affidavit of what they had witnessed.

Prosecutor Baird used the document in an attempt to revoke McElroy's bail and get him in jail right away. This should have been an urgent court matter. A man convicted of assault sat in a public place and demonstrated with a loaded rifle how he was going to murder the very same victim.

The authorities could have hauled McElroy in immediately and brought him before a judge with the fresh allegations. Instead, the judge, the prosecutor and Richard McFadin decided that July 10, five days along, would be soon enough.

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