Parents of murdered Cameron women feared for their daughter's safety

The parents of murdered Leah Dawson say their daughter had been in a violent relationship for several years before she was found dead in June.

Posted: Aug 8, 2019 11:20 PM
Updated: Aug 9, 2019 2:57 PM

(CAMERON, Mo.) -- It's been about six weeks now since the body of 23-year-old Leah Dawson was found at a farmhouse in rural DeKalb County.

For her parents, it's a helpless feeling knowing that her boyfriend is now being charged with her murder.

"It makes me feel like I never did enough. I should have been there," said Dawson's mother Tonya Eldredge.

Eldredge says she and her husband Travis had bad feelings about Kenny Wykert, Dawson's boyfriend. Now 49, Wykert is well more than twice Dawson's age.

They say Wykert showed violent tendencies from the first time they met him and that a pattern of abuse developed well before Wykert was convicted for assaulting Dawson in 2017.

"There was an incident prior to that where he had duct taped her hands and feet together and put duct tape over her mouth, said Tonya Eldredge. "He took her up the highway on a gravel road and threw her in a ditch and bashed her knees with a hammer and then left her there all night."

The Eldredge's say they believe Wykert's threatening nature didn't just start with their daughter and that Wykert's own family is even scared of him.

"(Leah) is not the only female he has hurt like that," Eldredge said. "He's done other things to other females. Nobody's ever came forward because they're scared of him."

Even after the Wykert's assault conviction in 2017 the couple stayed together. The Eldredge's say their daughter got trapped in a cycle of domestic violence that many women find themselves in.

Even more maddening to them, they say they've been watching how Wykert has responded to being behind bars accused of killing their daughter.

"He has no sad emotion at all. He has emotion, he's happy," Eldredge said. "He's smiling and cheery. He's not upset this happened to her."

Dawson's father Travis says Wykert's recent demenor has convinced him that Wykert did kill his daughter.

"In the beginning when all this took place, we felt he was guilty. I can say that now," he said. "We feel that this man did this to our daughter."

Wykert is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on a second degree murder charge on August 20 in DeKalb County Court.

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