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Appeals Court Affirms Murder Convictions of Volner Brothers

The Southern District Court of Appeals has affirmed the first-degree murder convictions of Elvis Volner and Benny Volner. Elvis, of Cabool, and Benny, of Mtn. Grove, were convicted of murdering Dustin Skaggs, of Ava, in 2008.

Dustin Skaggs went missing in the early morning hours of February 10, 2008 after leaving for work from his rural Douglas County home. His body was found six days later in the trunk of his car in an abandoned rock quarry near Lebanon.

Evidence at trial showed that Elvis Volner and Benny Volner, brothers, and their cousin, Dennis Volner, of Hartville, and his wife, Julia, drove from West Plains to a spot near Skaggs’ home on Old Highway 5 north of Ava. They parked their vehicle on the side of the road with the hood up so that it appeared their car was having trouble. Julia waited outside the vehicle with a flashlight, Benny and Dennis hid in the back seat of the vehicle, and Elvis Volner hid in the ditch while they waited for Dustin to drive by.

Dustin stopped and offered his assistance. As he looked under the hood, Elvis Volner sprang out of the ditch and attacked Dustin with a pipe.

Elvis Volner then drove Skaggs’ vehicle to the quarry while the others followed in their car. An autopsy revealed that Dustin suffered severe blunt force trauma to his head consistent with being struck by a pipe.

The cases were prosecuted and tried by former Douglas County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Wade.

Benny Volner’s jury trial was held in Texas County on a change of venue on March 29 and 30 with Circuit Judge John Moody presiding.

Elvis Volner’s jury trial was held in Douglas County from June 14 to June 16 with retired Circuit Judge Miles Sweeney of Greene County presiding.

The juries found each defendant guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, and armed criminal action.

Both Volners were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Dennis Volner pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree robbery in exchange for his cooperation and testimony against Benny and Elvis, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Julia Volner pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree robbery and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.