Well off the freeway and past all the chain restaurants, Missouri 125 winds to this place in the southern part of the state with one store, four churches and an old town dog.
Tipsy, a portly gal turning gray around the eyes, spends her days lying on cool concrete outside the store’s door, hoping a regular will come along with ice cream or potato chips, her favorites and everyone knows it.
South of Chadwick, the blacktop passes small farms where cattle graze on rocky hillsides. Red gravel lanes lead into the trees and brush. No store going that way for nearly 20 miles, where the ferry crosses Bull Shoals Lake.
Secrets can hide along this stretch. They can even live in peace. Jeanette and Al Bishop learned how well last week.
For years, they rented 34 acres from neighbors Alice and Gerald Uden. Al kept up the fences. Jeanette bought eggs from Alice and kept her company when Gerald, a long-haul trucker, was on the road. They talked grandchildren and sewing across kitchen tables.
When one was sick, the other fixed supper.
Then came Monday morning. Alice Uden’s daughter came to the Bishop house.
“I need to tell you about Mom and Dad,” she told them.
Then she began to cry.
Alice Uden, 74, and Gerald Uden, 71, were locked up in the county jail for murder. Authorities say they killed spouses decades earlier in Wyoming.
Authorities say Alice, whom Jeanette Bishop described as a “sweet, old grandmother,” shot her husband while he slept, put his body in a barrel and dumped it down the shaft of an abandoned gold mine. Last month, searchers found the remains of Ronald Holtz 40 feet down, a .22 slug still in his skull.
Gerald Uden also is charged in the shooting deaths of his wife Virginia’s two young sons.
Sometime after the killings, Alice and Gerald married and left Wyoming for a farm on Missouri 125 in the secluded hills of Christian County.
“They probably figured they could live down here and nobody know their secret,” said the woman working the counter at Kay’s Country Store in Chadwick. “It worked too. For a long time, it worked.”
Jeanette Bishop is a bedtime reader. But one night last week she set her book aside and could think only of her friend across the pasture.
“How could you live like that — with that — all these years?”