19-Year-Old Case Comes to Closure

February 4, 2003
Posted at: 5:45 p.m. CST

POTOSI, Mo. -- The execution hour is quickly approaching for a Popular Bluff man convicted of murdering another man nearly twenty years ago.

Six hours before 40-year old Kenneth Kenley is scheduled to be executed, there are no signs of clemency or appeal, and the people we talked to in the community say it's time for the memory and murderer to die. Lawyers for the convicted killer continue to make last-minute efforts to stop his execution.

Robbery turned into murder in Poplar Bluff on a January night in 1984. A bar, formerly known as the Blue Moon Tavern is where police say Kenley's two day crime spree turned into murder. Witnesses say that Kenley walked into the bar, pulled out a gun, and then pointed it at the bartender.

Witnesses say he shot customer Ronald Felts in the head, killing Felts. He then shot the bartender in the jaw. Kenley was arrested and convicted of capital murder after authorities caught up with him in central Arkansas.

Poplar Bluff residents like Clay Downing say he hopes the execution is carried out as scheduled Tuesday night, and the memory of the terrible crime spree and murder finally fades away.

"I think too many criminals get away with too much," Downing said. "I think it's good that he's getting the punishment he deserves, and I think it will mean closure for the family that's suffered so long.

Witnesses said that they believe the only reason Kenley's shooting spree stopped was because his gun stopped working. After nearly two decades, residents say it's time for justice and closure.

Kenley's execution is scheduled for 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.