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Map of St. Robert Missouri area
Rising from the hills of the Ozarks in south central Missouri, Saint Robert, a hamlet of 1,500 residents, had the appearance of a prototypical small town in rural America. But looks can be deceiving. With the Army's sprawling training center at Fort Leonard Wood nearby, Saint Robert was home to hundreds of prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, gamblers, corrupt politicians, organized crime and hit men. And it liked it that way.
Just 30 years ago, it was the Sodom and Gomorrah of the Midwest, a monument to decadence and the pleasures of the flesh rising from the hills of the Ozarks in south central Missouri.
From Interstate 44, Saint Robert, a seemingly peaceful community of 1,500, appeared to be no different than any other small town in rural America. There were businesses and a church steeple here and there. The sprawling Army training center at Fort Leonard Wood, the economic lifeblood of the region, was a short distance to the south.
But behind the veneer of serenity and virtue, beyond view from the highway, was a totally different community where the perverse prevailed. When night fell, so did moral constraints and the sin pits came alive. It was home to hundreds of hookers, pimps, drug dealers, corrupt public officials, gamblers, organized crime and hit men.
It had been an oasis of sin for a long time, but by the early 1970s, the complexion of the iniquity grasping Saint Robert and Pulaski County darkened threateningly. As the citizens began dodging bullets and bombs, they abruptly awoke from their indifference and tolerance. They realized matters had gotten dangerously out of hand, that it wasn't just about prostitution any more. It was about decency and their survival.
It was time to bring down the walls of Sodom and Gomorrah.