As he lay in his farm field dying from a gunshot wound to the abdomen, Bill Bacon had one request as Knox County Sheriff Mike Kite tended to him.
"Get the tape out of my pocket," Bacon allegedly told Kite after he had been shot by Glenn Head on the afternoon of Dec. 11, 2012.
One mystery in Head's second-degree murder trial last week in Moberly, Mo., was what happened to the tape -- or if a tape exists.
Head, found not guilty after a week-long trial, argued all along that no tape was in the recorder Bacon had taken with him that day.
In the moments after shooting Bacon, Head frantically tried to call for help. He contacted Knox County 911 three times on his cellphone, but said other attempts wouldn't go through. Cellphone reception can be spotty in the remote section of Knox County near Novelty where the shooting took place. Head said he asked Bacon if he had a cellphone on him and patted him down while looking for one.
That's when Head ran across the tape recorder in one of Bacon's shirt pockets.
Head was holding the recorder when his friend, Don Roper, arrived at the scene. Head placed the recorder near where Bacon was shot. From the start, Head said no tape was inside.
Authorities twice searched the area for the tape but couldn't find one. They believed a tape was inside the recorder, because a search of Bacon's house found a package of micro cassettes.
One cassette was missing.
The Randolph County jury that acquitted Head on second-degree murder charges saw the tape recorder and heard about the attempts to find a tape. However, jurors didn't hear any testimony about what Bacon allegedly told Kite about getting the tape out of his pocket. That was not admitted into evidence.
Would the existence of a tape have helped the prosecution's case and hurt Head's claim that he acted in self-defense?
"It would have depended what was on the tape," Assistant Knox County Prosecuting Attorney Jo Fortney said. "If we would have found the tape and had it recorded the altercation, it could have greatly influenced us one way or the other.
"But it wasn't found."
Tape or no tape, it's unfortunate that the status of the road Bacon claimed to be on his land was never cleared up before the fatal confrontation.
Both men had separate meetings with the Knox County Commission shorty after an incident near the road a month before the shooting, and both left thinking they were right about the status of the road. Bacon left thinking it was a closed road, while Head and Roper left believing it was part of Knox County Road 341 and open to public use. Head and Roper were told by commissioners after a second meeting in late November 2012 to have the land surveyed to determine land boundaries.
The last chapter of this case has yet to be written.
While Head was cleared by a jury in the criminal case, a civil case is pending. Bacon's three sons have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Head. That case is being heard in Montgomery County.