What Happened to 20-Year-Old Branson Perry?

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Branson Perry of Skidmore, Missouri vanished into thin air in 2001 after heading to an outdoor storage shed to return jumper cables.

Skidmore, Missouri

Skidmore is a tiny town located in northwest Missouri with a current population of less than 300 residents. It is about 100 miles north of Kansas City, MO and 25 miles south of Iowa’s border.  The town is well known for the murder of Ken McElroy, a vicious, horrible man who bullied and physically attacked Skidmore’s residents. In 1981, the residents-turned-vigilantes murdered McElroy in broad daylight as he was leaving the local bar.  Despite his wife, Trina McCloud witnessing who shot him, the residents would not back up her claim. To this day, authorities have found no evidence against any of the residents for his murder, and the town residents remain tight-lipped on the whole thing.

But McElroy’s murder wasn’t the only crime to occur in Skidmore. Evil seemed to be lurking in its shadows.

The Disappearance of Branson Perry

Branson Perry

On April 7, 2001, Branson Perry visited his neighbor, Jason Bierman, who gave him an unidentified drug. In an intoxicated state, Branson danced naked, shaved his pubic area, and participated in sexual activity with Jason. The next day, Branson stammered out the story to his father, Bob. Branson feared the humiliation and embarrassment he would suffer if the encounter became public knowledge. Bob knew his son had homosexual tendencies and suspected that he’d had sex with other men, so he wasn’t entirely surprised. Nonetheless, after hearing the pain in his son’s voice, he became angry at Jason for drugging, then using his son. Bob entertained dark thoughts of killing his neighbor, but he never acted upon them (Fanning 2006).

At the time, Branson resided with his father at 304 West Oak Street in Skidmore. On Wednesday, April 11, 2001, Bob Perry was in the hospital in Maryville and due to come home the following Friday, April 13th. Branson decided to clean the house for him before he returned home.

Branson’s friend, Gena Crawford helped him clean the house. That day, Gena saw Branson run into the kitchen and take something out of one of the cupboards. She did not see what it was. Afterwards, Branson went outside through the back door. He did not tell Gena what he was doing.

During this time, two men were replacing an alternator in Bob’s car outside his house. Gena took a shower, and when she came out of the bathroom, she saw one of the men rummaging through the cupboards. When she asked him what he was looking for, he said, “Nothing.” The man then walked out of the house.

Around 3:00 p.m., Gena was upstairs when she heard the front porch door close. She looked out an upstairs window and saw Branson. She asked him, “Where are you going?”

Branson said, “I’m going to put away the jumper cables, then run out for a bit. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” He tossed the cables into the shed and walked off the property. Gena never saw him again (Fanning 2006).

Gena got sidetracked and left when she was finished at Branson’s house.

The next day, April 12th, Branson’s grandmother, Jo Ann Stinnett, dropped by the house and found it unlocked with no one there. Over the next few days, Jo Ann called the residence periodically but no one ever answered. In addition, she called Rebecca and discovered she had not spoken to Branson either. Rebecca went to the house and discovered lights and a radio still on. She went back the next day, and Branson was not there. The hospital discharged Bob Perry several days later than planned. As a result, Bob and Rebecca didn’t report Branson missing until April 17, 2001.

The Investigation

Police arrived at Bob Perry’s home and found Branson’s wallet and other personal belongings inside. Additionally, they checked the storage shed for the jumper cables, but they were not there. Two weeks later, the cables mysteriously turned up in the shed.

Branson Perry house and storage shed
(L) Branson’s house (R) Storage shed

Authorities searched Nodaway River, ponds, wells and farms, but found no sign of Branson Perry. They followed up on leads, but those eventually dried up.

Gena told police Branson used drugs. Simultaneously, tips came in suggesting Branson was killed because he owed money to drug dealers or he was going to turn people in to police for illegal drug activities. Police followed up on these leads, but they led nowhere.

Branson’s mother, Rebecca searched and searched for her son. She put up fliers and raised reward money, but to no avail.

Jack Wayne Rogers

Two years after Branson went missing, Alabama police arrested a man on porn charges. During the search of the man’s home, police found a chat log on his computer that led them to Jack Wayne Rogers.

Authorities believe Jack Wayne Rogers bragged in an online chat room that he abducted, raped and murdered a blond-haired man from Skidmore. In the same chat, authorities believe Rogers said police would never find the body because of how he disposed of it in a remote area of the Ozarks. Authorities search the yard of Rogers’ home in Fulton in November 2003 for possible buried evidence (“Search Continues For Missouri Man Missing 10 Years” 2019).

Police found nothing.

In April 2004, Rogers was convicted of child pornography and obscenity and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Five months later, he pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and practicing medicine without a license after he cut off a man’s genitals in a a makeshift gender reassignment surgery in a hotel room. A judge sentenced him to 17 years in prison to run concurrently with his 30-year sentence.

Police never found any concrete evidence linking Rogers to Branson’s disappearance, and Rogers has denied any involvement.

In 2009, the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s drug and crime unit received a credible tip relating to Branson’s disappearance. The patrol and the Nodaway County Sheriff’s Department dug a 23-foot hole in Quitman, Mo that covered an area about 20 feet by 40 feet. They spent two days on the site. However, the dig turned up nothing.

Family Tragedies

On a website for Branson, there is a letter from his mother, Rebecca. She talks briefly about Skidmore and that good people live there. Furthermore, she wrote, “Yet so much unrelated tragedy has happened to our family in that town. In October of 2000, Wendy Gillenwater was beaten to death by her boyfriend. April 2001, Branson disappeared. December 2004, Bobbi Jo Stinnett was found dead and her baby cut from her womb.”

Wendy Gillenwater’s boyfriend actually stomped her  to death, and he is now serving a life sentence. It is unclear how Wendy is related to Branson. There was very little media attention on that case, but the gruesome murder of Bobbi Jo Stinnett in 2004 made national headlines. Branson was Bobbi Jo’s cousin by marriage.

Aftermath

Branson’s  parents divorced in 2000, and his mother remarried in 2006 to Jim Klino. Both parents are now deceased; Bob passed away in 2004 and Rebecca in 2011. Jo Ann Stinnett passed away on August 6, 2015 at the age of 80.

Rebecca suffered dearly after the disappearance of her son, but her friends and family vowed to continue searching for Branson in her honor.

In 2006, true crime author Diane Fanning wrote a book called Baby Be Mine on the murder of Bobbi Jo Stinnett and extensively profiled Branson’s case in her book.

True Crime Diva’s Thoughts

Someone on my Facebook page suggested this case to me, and  I am so glad he did. This case is really strange, but I believe Branson is dead.

Branson disappeared in broad daylight. What about the two men working on the alternator? I have no idea who the men are because no report mentions their names, which I find strange. I found nothing on whether or not police interviewed them, but their actions that day were bizarre. Why did one of them rummage through the kitchen cupboards? What was he looking for? Branson grabbed something out of the cupboards before that. I feel that whatever was in the cupboards is important.

Did Branson ever leave the property or did something happen to him near the shed? The two men surely saw Brandon on his way to the shed; however, they claimed they didn’t. I call b.s. on that. How soon after Branson disappeared did the men leave Bob Perry’s house?

Rebecca did not believe Rogers killed her son; she believe someone local to the area is responsible. I don’t disagree with her. Anyone can confess to a crime, and some killers confess to crimes they did not commit just to take the credit. It makes sense to me that the killer is local and Branson knew him or her. So, is his disappearance drug-related? Maybe, but I’m not 100% sure.

Did police interview the neighbor, Jason Bierman, who drugged Branson four days before his disappearance? I found a Jason Biermann (with 2 n’s) who used to live in Skidmore. He’s in his 40s now, and living in Mound City, MO, about 18 miles from Skidmore. This has to be him. Skidmore is way too small to have 2 residents with the same name living there. It seems strange to me that Branson disappeared just a few days after Jason drugged him. Jason was his neighbor so maybe he was outside when Branson came out of the house.

I think “Gena” is actually spelled with a “J”. Diane Fanning spelled it with a G but I found her on the internet and it’s “Jena”.  She is married and still lives in Missouri.

Sources:

Branson Perry. 2019. Image. Wikipedia.

Fanning, Diane. 2006. Baby Be Mine. New York, N.Y.: St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

“MISSING-BRANSON KAYNE PERRY-OFFICIAL FAMILY WEBSITE”. 2002. Angelfire.Com. http://www.angelfire.com/jazz/jazzyrose/BransonPerry.html.

Moran, Mike. 2019. “The Creepiest Small Town In America: Skidmore Missouri.”. Medium. Accessed March 23. https://medium.com/@michaelmoran/the-creepiest-small-town-in-america-skidmore-missouri-deb4d0cc1c22.

“Search Continues For Missouri Man Missing 10 Years”. 2019. News Tribune. http://www.newstribune.com/news/news/story/2011/apr/12/search-continues-missouri-man-missing-10-years/432211/.

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True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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