As we’ve been saying all week, vigilantism has been used both for good and evil throughout American History. We’ve of course been focusing on the positives, like actual superheroes and people messing with bigots, but now we’re delving into territory that some might disagree with. So, we will have a disclaimer- we are about to describe events that occurred in real life, and led to someone’s death. We do not condone this course of action, and urge all of you to behave responsibly and within the law when met with similar extreme circumstances. Wink.
Do not try this totally badass thing at home
So with that in mind we’re going to bring to you, in the final chapter of AFFotD’s When Vigilantism Goes Awesome…
Ken McElroy Died in a Way to Ensure He’d Be Forever Enshrined as a Douchebag
As far as “dickholes” go, Ken McElroy was a fairly massive urethra. He was known as the “town bully” of Skidmore, Missouri, which is sort of like calling a Bowie Knife a “toothpick.” He was prosecuted 22 times for crimes that ranged from burglary and cattle rustling to rape, arson, and pedophilia (Jesus…). He was never convicted, until he finally was found guilty on his final charge after straight up shooting an old dude in the neck.
Just to make you hate the guy a little more, he pursued his last wife, Trena, when she was 12 years old, knocking her up when she was 14. We’re just going to quote Wikipedia here because writing is hard, and we get lazy sometimes.
“Sixteen days after Trena gave birth she and Alice fled to Trena’s mother and stepfather’s house. According to Trena’s court reports, he tracked them both down to bring them back and then went to Trena’s parents home while they were away, shot the parents’ dog and burned the house to the ground.”
The charges were dropped after he divorced his second wife, and married Trena (ie the teenager he impregnated and then burned down the house of!)
Nope, doesn’t look like a crime to me…
He also did a lot of really nice things like “witness intimidation” that got him acquitted of crimes, but we’ll just focus on the one crime he didn’t get away with. What eventually led to McElroy’s downfall was when one of his (probably terrible, let’s be honest here) children got pissed off at a clerk in a grocery store. One of the kids tried to steal some candy, and the clerk made a stink about it.
McElroy, being a stable individual, decided he was upset with this, and took it out by stalking the 70 year old man who owned the grocery store, eventually confronting him with a shotgun and shooting him in the goddamn neck. We don’t mean to use so many italics but Jesus Christ this guy was hurting for a vigilantism-ing. McElroy was found guilty of attempted murder, but somehow made bail because judges in Skidmore, Missouri don’t ever look at a rap sheet, and sure enough the jackass started wandering around with a gun talking about how he was going to kill the old man. He was confronted by the whole village before walking out to his car, sitting next to his wife (yeah the one from before) and…
Oh, shit! Getting shot twice in the back? Which killed him? Holy shit!
Since this took place in 1981, Japan was unable to recap the story in computer graphics form, so they had to make do with what they could.
Forty five people were around as at least two people shot the guy in the back, and no one said a damn word about it. Say what you want about vigilantes, but they at least stick to their guns (ha! Puns). Basically, this whole thing was the Simpsons episode, Who Shot Mr. Burns, only if Burns had actually died at the end of it.
“Uhh…Are you alright, dude?”
To this day, no one has ever been charged with a crime for that murder.
So sure, say what you will about if what happened was right or wrong, there at least was some sort of karma involved with a guy who avoided going to jail by threatening to kill people eventually getting killed by someone who would not have to go to jail for it. Or maybe we’re just having one of those “dark humor days” (if that’s the case, we blame Charlie Kaufman, who we recently added to our staff, but who seems to want to make things a bit more…somber than we like around here). Either way, right or wrong, it happened. Like, thirty years ago too. Get over it, those of you who have an issue with it (for those of you thinking “fucker had it coming” we just will say…we know, right? Right?)
Our general reaction to ethical dilemmas
So there you have it, America. Thus ends AFFotD’s look through American vigilantism. We hope it inspired lively debate on morals and ethics. Ha, who are we kidding, we just hope we inspired some jackass white boy to buy a costume and try “busting a drug deal” or something. Because that would be awesome.
And being awesome…well, that’s just synonymous with being American, isn’t it?