After 31 Years, the 1981 Skidmore Murder Story Lives on-Online

Harry MacLean is the author of the book “In Broad Daylight.” Click the image to view his website.

It’s been 31 years this month since a small Northwest Missouri town went silent. On July 10th of 1981, Ken Rex McElroy, known as the town bully, was killed after leaving a bar in Skidmore. And even with around 50 witnesses that day, no one was speaking. Harry MacLean was a lawyer before he turned to writing. But after researching the story of McElroy, he started his journey of trying to tell the story. So came his book “In Broad Daylight.”

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“The first book came out in 1988, almost 1989. And it was a ‘New York Times’ bestseller and was made into a movie by the same name,” MacLean said.  “And it won an Edgar award, which is the highest award a True Crime book can win.”

More recently, on the 25th anniversary, MacLean released an updated version of the book in 2007. MacLean had received more investigative files that he couldn’t get his hands on before the original book was released. So the 2007 version contained a 25 page epilogue.

Then, this month, he released that updated version of the book for the first time as an eBook on And he’s enjoyed the success. The book was rated as a top ten seller in the true crimes category just a week after it was released.

But that’s not all. This fall will bring another eBook. MacLean will release his newest book, titled “About in Broad Daylight.” It’s the story behind the story. There’s plenty of drama that went on while working on the original book, MacLean said.

“Over the years, As I traveled and talked about this book, I received almost as many questions about how I managed to get the story as about the story itself,” he said. “I had a gun drawn on me, I was bitten by a dog, I had my tires slashed. What I ended up doing was living there for almost three years and becoming a part of the community and many people became good friends on mine.”

MacLean keeps in contact with that community. He says he tries to catch and and visit Skidmore almost every year.

Ken Rex McElroy was known as a town bully in Skidmore. He robbed, rapped, burned and assaulted almost at-will, according to the book “In Broad Daylight.”

“I became very close to them when I lived there and I developed a great affection for many of them and the town itself.” MacLean said. “And I made certain assurances to them that I wouldn’t name the killer and I would try and tell the towns story and so forth. And a lot of them opened up, they trusted me, we became friends and I maintained that relationship with them.  It’s quite important to me.”

Meanwhile, it’s been 21 years since the made for TV move debuted. About a month ago, MacLean says he was contacted by a well known, highly respected producer who became obsessed by the story. While he can’t name the producer, he did say he should provide an interesting aspect on the story.

The producer-director is more focused on the atmosphere of the story, including the feeling around the town. It should different and very interesting, according to McLean.

There’s no confirmation the movie will happen or any sort of time-line yet, but they are working on legal issues right now. As for the story, he says it’s slowing down and many of those involved have passed away, including who was widely identified as the killer and McElroy’s wife Trina.

It’s also taking on this kind of mythical folklore tone to it and I think what I’m starting to realize, and frankly, I didn’t realize when I wrote the book that this story is going to be a part of American history.”

MacLean, who resides in Denver now, says he’ll be back to Skidmore hopefully this September, the same time the new eBook comes out.