Another Teen Love
Trena McCloud was a 12-year-old eighth-grader when McElroy began to pursue her. He was in his mid-30s, had fathered nearly 10 children and already had two women, Alice and Marcia, sharing his bedroom.
McElroy went to extraordinary lengths to spend time with the blonde adolescent. He paid a boy her age to masquerade as Trena's date. The boy picked her up at home, delivered her to McElroy, then escorted her home when he was finished with her.
Often, she would arrive to school on the bus, then skip over to McElroy, waiting in a souped-up truck just off school grounds.
The relationship was an open secret. McElroy had a well-established reputation as a pedophile, even though he had never been held accountable. School officials would later acknowledge that they had heard the rumors but did not take action.
Predictably, Trena turned up pregnant just after the beginning of 9th grade. She dropped out, at age 14, and moved in with McElroy and Alice, replacing Marcia in the harem.
Neither Trena nor Alice was happy with the arrangement, and the trio argued frequently. McElroy beat them both "all the time," Trena would later say.
Sixteen days after Trena gave birth to a son, she and Alice fled with their children, hoping to find a haven with Trena's mother and stepfather. But McElroy tracked them down within hours and, at gunpoint, forced them back home.
McElroy first beat Alice savagely. He then held a rifle on Trena and forced her to strip and perform demeaning sex acts. Next, he and Trena drove to her mother and stepfather's house. The couple was away for the afternoon. McElroy went inside with a can of gasoline and a rifle. He shot the couple's dog, poured gas throughout the house and lit it on fire. The building was destroyed.
Two days after McElroy's rampage, Trena took her son to see a doctor in Mound City, Mo. The teenager was jumpy and frightened, and the doctor drew out the story of what had happened to her.
He notified juvenile and social welfare authorities. The baby was placed in foster care, and Trena was tranquilized and hospitalized, primarily to keep her safe from McElroy.
Authorities interviewed her, and in June 1973, McElroy was indicted for arson, assault and rape based on Trena's story. He was arrested, booked, arraigned and released on $2,500 bail.