Wendy and Branson
The murder of Ken McElroy didn’t do much to convince people to stick around Skidmore, Missouri. By the year 2000, the population had dropped to 342. As witnesses to the McElroy slaying began to age and pass away, the town hoped the national spotlight it had been living under would soon fade. However, that would not be the case.
Jo Ann and Babe Stinnett’s granddaughter, Wendy Gillenwater, was born on January 19, 1975. At the age of 19, Wendy moved in with her boyfriend, Gregory Dragoo. Greg was a violent and controlling man who frequently isolated Wendy from her family and friends. He had been described as a heavy drug user whose negative traits were amplified whenever he was under the influence. Like so many women in abusive relationships, Wendy was never able to escape.
On October 16, 2000, Gregory Dragoo sat quietly on the front steps of his home at 406 E. Elm Street as he waited for law enforcement officers to arrive and take him into custody. When questioned, Dragoo told police that he had become irate with Wendy and lost all control. While some accounts state that Dragoo chained Wendy to his truck and dragged her through town, it is believed that Dragoo actually beat her to death with his bare hands. According to Greg, even as he punched, kicked, stomped, and pummeled Wendy, she never fought back. Despite this fact, Dragoo did not hesitate to kick Gillenwater so hard that he bruised the tops of his own feet. During the beating, Wendy suffered six rib fractures on her right side and eight on her left. One of her lungs was lacerated and collapsed. Her liver was lacerated, and she suffered extensive internal trauma and bleeding.
Not content with merely pummeling Wendy’s body, Greg also forced dishwashing liquid down her throat before dragging her body outside into their yard. As the now public beating continued, a neighbor came outside to see what was causing so much noise. He found Dragoo standing in the yard with a lifeless figure at his feet, and immediately called 911. Despite the best efforts of EMTs and doctors, Wendy Gillenwater was pronounced dead at 5:13 PM. Her body had been so savagely beaten that her mother had to identify her by the rings she wore. Gregory Dragoo was ultimately sentenced to life in prison for second degree murder. Tragically, just six months later, Jo Ann Stinnett would mourn the loss of another grandchild.
Branson Perry was born on February 24, 1981, the same year Ken McElroy was murdered. When his parents divorced, Branson elected to live with his dad, Bob at 304 W. Oak Street. After graduating high school, Branson wanted to join the military, but he was ineligible to serve due to the fact that he suffered from a medical condition that caused an irregularly fast heartbeat known as tachycardia. Despite this condition, Branson managed to earn a black belt in Hapkido and work odd jobs around town.
On April 7, 2001, Branson visited a friend and neighbor named Jason Bierman. He would later tell his father that Jason had drugged him and taken sexual advantage of him. The news left Bob Perry highly upset. Bob had long suspected that Branson was gay, and that he’d had sexual encounters with other men, but the idea that his son had been taken advantage of against his will angered the elder Mr. Perry. According to Bob, Branson told him that while he was drugged, he’d danced around the house naked, shaved his pubic hair, and had sex with Bierman. However, it would seem that the sexual assault was never reported to police.
Four days later, on April 11, 2011, Branson had asked a few friends to come by his place and help him clean up the home and repair a vehicle in anticipation of his dad being discharged from a recent hospital stay. While his friend Gena cleaned up the home, Branson worked with two unidentified males to replace the alternator on his father’s car. At around 3:00 pm, Branson told Gena he was going to put some jumper cables away in a shed near the house. Nobody would ever see Branson Perry again.
The next day, on April 12th, Jo Ann Stinnett stopped by the Perry home to check in on Branson. She found the house unlocked and became uneasy when she realized nobody was home. Apparently, rather than becoming concerned when Branson failed to return from the shed, Gena and the two males who were at the house simply left when they had finished what they were there to accomplish. Branson’s father, Bob, had been delayed in returning home from the hospital when doctors decided to postpone his discharge. When Branson failed to show up for his daily visits with his father, Jo Ann felt alarmed. Even though she tried calling several times a day, she was unable to reach Branson. Eventually, Jo Ann reached out to Branson’s mother, Rebecca Klino, but she hadn’t seen or heard from him. Despite the concern Jo Ann felt, Branson was not reported missing until his father was released from the hospital on April 17, 2001.
Despite searching fields, oil wells, outhouses, and even digging up the fields of farmers in neighboring towns, Branson Perry remains missing. Police weren’t even able to locate the jumper cables Branson went to put away when they searched the shed. However, those cable mysteriously reappeared two weeks later when they showed up just inside the door of the shed. There have been several theories as to what happened to Branson over the years, but so far, none of them have resulted in a conviction or the location of Branson’s whereabouts. The first, and most obvious, path of investigation surrounded Jason Bierman, the neighbor who had sexually assaulted Branson. Some people believe that Bierman feared Branson would go to police following the assault and he killed Branson to prevent him from speaking to authorities. Gena reluctantly informed investigators that Branson had been experimenting with drugs and that there were rumors that he owed money to local drug dealers. His father thought Branson may have tried to hitchhike to Kansas City to spend a few days with friends there since he was embarrassed and upset following the sexual assault by Bierman. Then, there’s Jack Wayne Rogers.
Jack Wayne Rogers
Despite a 1992 conviction for the possession of child pornography, Jack Wayne Rogers was hired as a minister at First Presbyterian Church in Fulton, Missouri. In 2000, the church apparently thought it was great idea to allow Rogers to act as a chaperone during a trip to a youth conference in Maryland where it is alleged that he sexually assaulted a young boy. He was also a Boy Scout leader despite his status as a registered sex offender. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jack Wayne Rogers was once again arrested for child pornography in 2003. However, that was not the only charge he faced.
In addition to the child pornography charges, Rogers was charged with obscenity, assault, and practicing medicine without a license. Madison (nee Michael) Rogers paid Rogers to perform a gender reassignment surgery on her. Rogers told her that the procedure could be done in a motel room in Columbia, Missouri, and that it would take about 4 hours to remove Madison’s penis. However, Rogers botched the procedure and when he could no longer control the bleeding, Madison dialed 911. When police searched Roger’s computer, they found his collection of child pornography in addition to numerous message board posts discussing the cannibalization of the genitals of other men that Rogers admitted to castrating. He also claimed to have killed several men. One of Jack Wayne Rogers’ posts detailed how he had picked up a blonde hitchhiker, raped, tortured, and killed him, and then dumped his body somewhere in the Ozarks. This post raised the suspicions of police who thought he may have been talking about Branson Perry.
When he was confronted with the post about the hitchhiker, Rogers denied ever having met Perry and claimed the post was pure fantasy. Unsatisfied with his answer, police obtained a search warrant for his home, car and place of business. In addition to scalpels and other medical equipment that Jack Wayne Rogers had likely used in the castrations he bragged about online, police found a turtle claw necklace that matched the description of a necklace belonging to Branson Perry. Subsequent searches also turned up evidence. According to highway patrol Sgt. David Merrill, “These searches have turned up evidence of Jack Rogers’ involvement in the murder of a person believed to be Branson Perry as well as Jack Rogers’ involvement in other crimes centering upon his performing surgery on those wishing to have their gender nullified by castration.” Affidavits related to the case also state there was evidence of cannibalism, and cadaver dogs alerted on a travel camper stored on Rogers’ property. Despite all of this, without a body, officials weren’t certain that they could get a conviction for the murder of Branson Perry without a body. As such, Rogers was only ever convicted on charges relating to child pornography and the botched surgery. At his sentencing, Branson’s family begged Jack Wayne Rogers to tell them where Perry’s body could be located. Rogers simply continued to deny ever having crossed paths with Branson Perry. Rebecca Klino, Branson’s mom, came to believe that Rogers was not involved in her son’s death, but law enforcement still considers him to be a person of interest.
Who do you think is responsible for the death of Branson Perry? Could Jason Bierman have killed him in an attempt to cover up a sexual assault? Was the debt that Perry supposedly owed to local drug dealers to blame for his vanishing? Was Jack Wayne Rogers telling the truth when he wrote about the blonde hitchhikers on internet forums? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and if you’re enjoying this blog, click subscribe to receive email updates about new posts.