KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The widow of the 'town bully' in Skidmore, Mo., who was killed three years ago in an unsolved vigilante-style slaying, has filed a $5 million damage suit alleging her husband's civil rights were violated.
The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City by Trena McElroy, says a Skidmore man named Del Clement fired several shots and killed her husband, Kenneth Rex McElroy, on a Skidmore street.
The suit also names as defendants Skidmore Mayor Steve Peter, who the suit claims was present when the shots were fired, the city of Skidmore, Nodaway County and Nodaway County Sheriff Danny R. Estes.
McElroy, 47, was shot while sitting in a pickup truck with his wife as a crowd of about 60 people watched. No criminal charges have been filed in the slaying.
The Federal Civil Rights Act provides for civil damages against any official who knowingly deprives a person of his civil rights.
A coroner's inquest, a Nodaway County grand jury and two federal grand juries have investigated the case, but no criminal charges have been filed.
According to Mrs. McElroy's suit, residents of the northwest Missouri town of 440 residents and of Nodaway County on July 10, 1981, 'held a meeting for the specific purpose of planning how to rid the area' of her husband. The suit says the sheriff and mayor presided over that meeting.
At the same time, the McElroys entered the D&G Tavern in Skidmore. The sheriff then left the Skidmore area, and most of those attending the meeting -- 'including the mayor and other city officials' -- went to the tavern, the suit said.
In later grand jury testimony, Mrs. McElroy said she and her husband were having a drink at the tavern when a mob walked into the room.
'We left right away and got into our truck,' she said. 'As we went out the door, the people came out behind us and surrounded us. That's when I saw this other guy across the street. He reached into his pickup and grabbed a gun and then's when he started shooting my husband.'
Last October, a panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis in hearing a side issue of the incident identified Clement as a 'potential suspect' in the slaying.
According to court records, McElroy has been arrested for numerous crimes over the years but never convicted because witnesses were frightened of him. Numerous officials and residents of Skidmore refer to him as the 'town bully.'
McElroy eventually was found guilty of second-degree assault in the shooting of a 72-year-old grocer. He died while he was free on bond appealing the conviction.