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Old 12-18-2004, 01:57 AM  
Nzoner Nzoner is offline
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Spinoff:Skidmore's idyllic pattern twice shattered by violence

For anyone who may be interested in keeping up with this story form a local perspective.

To the world outside, this Nodaway County community seems almost doomed to periodic heartache. Thursday’s nightmare on Elm Street did nothing to diminish that view.


Skidmore's idyllic pattern twice shattered by violence

By KEN NEWTON
kenn@npgco.com


SKIDMORE, Mo. — Most streets in Skidmore have the names of trees, and a drive through the town of 342 residents takes you past Willow and Locust, Spruce and Pine.

Such an arbor-inspired pattern serves the convention of idyllic small towns. The folks are friendly, the neighbors are helpful and the front doors are locked sporadically.

Many Skidmore residents see their town that way.

To the world outside, this Nodaway County community seems almost doomed to periodic heartache. Thursday’s nightmare on Elm Street did nothing to diminish that view.

In broad daylight, a killer strangled the life from 23-year-old Bobbie Stinnett and cut the unborn daughter from her eight-months-pregnant body.

Not even the news Friday afternoon that the baby survived the ordeal, found alive in Kansas in the company of those implicated in the crime, exorcised the melancholy of what appears too often a haunted town.

Every autumn, the community holds its Freedom Fest, a red, white and blue celebration that has gained national notice as a welcome-home salute to America’s veterans. Organizers say it provides a positive association for a town with a history.

But once another sensational crime occurs, once the TV uplink trucks roll in and unload reporters from bigger places, the townspeople know what’s coming. Most brace themselves for the question. Some dare not speak its name.

On July 10, 1981, a reputed town bully named Ken Rex McElroy was gunned down on Elm Street, just a few blocks from where Thursday’s crime took place. More than 40 Skidmore residents stood by as this happened. No one spoke up to name a shooter.

The town became synonymous with American vigilantism and fodder for a best-selling book and made-for-television movie.

“Every time a tragedy occurs, that comes up again. It’s always going to be there,” said Cheryl Huston, a Skidmore resident who grew up in the small town. “What I really wish is the news media would reflect how the town pulls together.”

For Ms. Huston, the evening after the killing allowed little sleep. At Nodaway-Holt High School and after graduation, she was inseparable from Becky Harper, the mother of Mrs. Stinnett and the person who discovered the crime scene at 3:38 p.m. Thursday.

“I talked to her this morning. I can’t even imagine what she’s going through,” said Ms. Huston, who was maid of honor at Ms. Harper’s wedding and who gave her a baby shower before Bobbie’s birth.

In addition to grief, the town felt fright. Carla Wetzel, who lives on the eastern end of Elm Street, heard the sirens screaming past about the time schools got out.

“My first thought was there had been a bus wreck,” she said, never dreaming the reality would exceed that fear. “It’s very scary. People are keeping their doors locked.”

The horror led residents, normally taciturn with visiting journalists, to grow even more close-mouthed. A neighbor who lives directly across the street from the Stinnett home asked to be identified only as Tracy, declining to give her last name.

“It’s insane,” she said, looking at the white, single-story house across the way, its territory marked by yellow crime-scene ribbon. “I haven’t been out in the town today. We’re probably all in shock.”

The shock did not restrict itself to the town limits. Steve Henkle of Chapman, Kan., met Mrs. Stinnett and her husband, Zeb, last March at a canine conference in Abilene, Kan. They shared an interest in raising rat terriers, and the Stinnetts bought a dog of the same lineage as one owned by Mr. Henkle.

“Her and her husband both, they were just great people, very pleasant to be around,” he said. “I was twice as old as they were, but for their age they were very mature.”

On the Internet, a message board for people who raise rat terriers proliferated Friday with notes about the Skidmore killing and the eventual discovery that a killer had used the Stinnetts’ dog interest to get into the Elm Street home.

“It’s scary to think she was tracked (over the Internet). You don’t know who’s on the other end of what you’re writing,” the Kansan said. “My stomach’s still in knots.”

Elsewhere in Nodaway County, the impact of the events also hit hard.

“It’s sad, sad, sad,” said Sherrie McEnaney, owner of Main Street Coffee across the street from the courthouse in Maryville. “I didn’t know them, but when it happens nearby, it really affects you. I heard about it last night and I couldn’t sleep.”

If the anguish remained abstract to most, family members knew more intimately the hardships.

Jo Ann Stinnett of Skidmore is grandmother of Zeb. One of her other grandchildren, Branson Perry of Skidmore, vanished on April 11, 2001, at age 20. He is presumed dead, the suspected victim of a man subsequently imprisoned for federal child pornography charges.

In addition, Jo Ann saw her son, Branson’s father, die in March at age 49, and lost two siblings to cancer this year.

With this next suffering, she talked Friday of dealing with adversity.

“You just have to keep busy and take care of the rest of the family,” she said.

The Rev. Harold Hamon has ministered at the Skidmore Christian Church the last five years. Just more than a year ago, he presided at the wedding of Zeb Stinnett and Bobbie Harper.

On Friday, he tried to comfort Zeb and Bobbie’s mother.

“We have to trust that God’s wiser than we are,” the pastor said on his front porch, a block north of the crime scene. “It’s impossible to explain or understand. We are living in a world where people are doing awful things.”

Ms. Huston said she will reach out to Becky Harper, her hurting friend.

“‘I’m sorry’ are the only words there are,” said Ms. Huston. “They just seem inadequate.”

But the woman remains convinced Skidmore will rally after this dark event.

“Everybody knows everybody else in town,” she added. “There’s a big support system. That’s what small towns do.”

Others have their own method.

“I’ll say a lot of prayers,” said Tracy, the Elm Street neighbor. “I’ll hug my babies a little tighter.”
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Old 12-18-2004, 09:17 AM   #2
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I know the town well since I grew up in st joe,,,,the town bully's 2 sons are friends of my brother and the youngest one is married to my brothers wifes 1st cousin,,,,when we have family get togethers they are always at them,,,,they seem to be nice men except for their crazy names,,,,,small world isin't it?
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Old 12-18-2004, 11:36 AM   #3
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Quote:
Thursday’s nightmare on Elm Street
Whoever came up with that line should be the next to die.
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Old 12-18-2004, 12:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chiefs4me
I know the town well since I grew up in st joe,,,,the town bully's 2 sons are friends of my brother and the youngest one is married to my brothers wifes 1st cousin,,,,when we have family get togethers they are always at them,,,,they seem to be nice men except for their crazy names,,,,,small world isin't it?
Wasnt the movie "Road House" with Patrick Swayze loosely based on the events in Skidmore with the town bully??? IM thinking it was? I know that the movie was set there.
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Old 12-18-2004, 01:04 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Deberg_1990
Wasnt the movie "Road House" with Patrick Swayze loosely based on the events in Skidmore with the town bully??? IM thinking it was? I know that the movie was set there.
IIRC, the movie was set in Jasper, but I always figured it was inspired by that Skidmore thing.

Interesting movie until it degenerated into Rambo at the end.
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Old 12-18-2004, 02:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Deberg_1990
Wasnt the movie "Road House" with Patrick Swayze loosely based on the events in Skidmore with the town bully??? IM thinking it was? I know that the movie was set there.
no
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Old 12-18-2004, 02:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deberg_1990
Wasnt the movie "Road House" with Patrick Swayze loosely based on the events in Skidmore with the town bully??? IM thinking it was? I know that the movie was set there.
Never heard that,however, the book and movie In Broad Daylight:A Murder in Skidmore Missouri are well worth a read and watch.
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Old 12-18-2004, 02:50 PM   #8
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The movie roadhouse was on tv last night by the way. In Broad Daylight is the movie about the bully, and it was pretty good,,,but the book gives more of the truth.
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Old 12-18-2004, 03:01 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by chiefs4me
The movie roadhouse was on tv last night by the way. In Broad Daylight is the movie about the bully, and it was pretty good,,,but the book gives more of the truth.
What are their crazy names?
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Old 12-18-2004, 03:07 PM   #10
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Old 12-18-2004, 03:10 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by chiefs4me
Quarez,,,,Mouse
Are they trash like their dad?
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Old 12-18-2004, 03:11 PM   #12
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like their dad,,,no
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Old 12-18-2004, 03:13 PM   #13
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whatca doing for christmas,,are you gonna drive the 2 hours for a meal?
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Old 12-18-2004, 03:28 PM   #14
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what a ****ed up situation. Truly horrific. Death penalty to whoever did this shit.
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Old 12-18-2004, 04:30 PM   #15
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whatca doing for christmas,,are you gonna drive the 2 hours for a meal?
Nah, it's 3 hours one way and is just too much for a meal. Sonic's looking good though.
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