Oklahoma Girl Scout murders

Coordinates: 36°10′16″N 95°09′43″W / 36.171017°N 95.161950°W / 36.171017; -95.161950
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Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders
DateJune 13, 1977
LocationCamp Scott, Mayes County, Oklahoma, U.S.
Coordinates36°10′16″N 95°09′43″W / 36.171017°N 95.161950°W / 36.171017; -95.161950
CauseHomicide by strangulation
  • Lori Lee Farmer, age 8;
  • Michele Heather Guse, age 9;
  • Doris Denise Milner, age 10
SuspectsGene Leroy Hart
VerdictNot guilty

The Oklahoma Girl Scout murders took place on the morning of June 13, 1977, at Camp Scott in Mayes County, Oklahoma, United States. The victims were three Girl Scouts, between the ages of 8 and 10, who were raped and murdered. Their bodies were then left on a trail leading to the campsite's showers, about 150 yards (140 meters) from their tent. The case was classified as solved when Gene Leroy Hart, a local jail escapee with a history of violence and rape, was arrested. However, Hart was acquitted in March 1979 after a jury unanimously returned a verdict of not guilty.[1] In 2022, it was announced that DNA testing in the case, although officially inconclusive, strongly suggests Hart’s involvement in the crime.[2] The case remains officially unsolved.

Less than two months before the murders, during an on-site training session, a counselor at Camp Scott discovered that her belongings had been ransacked and her doughnuts had been stolen. Inside the empty doughnut box was a hand-written note, stating in capital letters, "We are on a mission to kill three girls in tent one." The director of that camp session treated the note as a prank, and it was discarded.[3][4]

Discovery of the bodies[edit]

At around 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 12, 1977, the night before camp started, the girls huddled in their tents. Among them were Lori Lee Farmer (8), Doris Denise Milner (10), and Michele Heather Guse (9).[5] The girls were all residents of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa. They were sharing tent #7 in the camp's "Kiowa" unit, which was located the farthest from the camp counselor's tent[6] and partially obscured by the camp’s showers.

At around 6 a.m. on June 13, a camp counselor on her way to the shower saw a girl's body in her sleeping bag in a wooded area just outside the tent area. It was discovered that all three girls from tent #7 were missing. As counselors began searching, they discovered the girls from tent #7 had been murdered. Two bodies were inside a sleeping bag, crumpled towards the bottom of the bag, and one body was visible on the outside. They had been left on a trail leading to the showers, about 150 yards from their tent.[7] Subsequent testing showed that they had been bludgeoned and strangled. All three girls had been raped.[8]

A large, red flashlight was found on top of the girls' bodies; a smudged fingerprint was found on the lens, but it has never been identified as it was too smudged for a positive identification.[8] A footprint from a 9.5 size shoe was also found in the blood in the tent.[8] Between 2:30 and 3 a.m. on June 13, a landowner reported hearing "quite a bit" of traffic on a remote road near the camp.[8]


Camp Scott was evacuated and was later shut down.


Gene Leroy Hart (November 27, 1943 – June 4, 1979) had been at large since 1973 after escaping from the Mayes County Jail. He had been convicted of kidnapping and raping two pregnant women as well as four counts of first-degree burglary.[9] Raised about a mile from Camp Scott, Hart, a member of the Cherokee nation, was arrested within a year at the home of a Cherokee medicine man. He was represented by Garvin A. Isaacs, a local Oklahoma attorney. He was tried in March 1979. Although the local sheriff pronounced himself "one thousand percent" certain that Hart was guilty, a local jury acquitted him.[10] As a convicted rapist and jail escapee, Hart still had 305 years of his 308-year sentence left to serve in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

On June 4, 1979, two years after the murders, Hart collapsed and died of a heart attack at the age of 35 after about an hour of lifting weights and jogging in the prison exercise yard.[11]

Two of the families later sued the Magic Empire Council and its insurer for $5 million, alleging negligence. The civil trial included discussion of the threatening note and the fact that tent #7 was 86 yards (79 m) from the counselors' tent. In 1985, by a 9–3 vote, jurors decided in favor of Magic Empire.[7]

DNA testing[edit]

In 1989, DNA testing was conducted that showed three of the five probes matched Hart's DNA. Statistically, DNA from 1 in 7,700 Native Americans would obtain these results.[12] In 2008, authorities conducted new DNA testing on stains found on a pillowcase, the results of which proved inconclusive because the samples were "too deteriorated to obtain a DNA profile".[13] In 2017, $30,000 in donations were raised by the sheriff in order to do new DNA tests using the latest advances in testing.[14] In 2022, authorities made public that DNA evidence strongly suggests Hart's involvement.[15] Sheriff Mike Reed of Mayes County said, “Unless something new comes up, something brought to light we are not aware of, I am convinced where I’m sitting of Hart’s guilt and involvement in this case.” [16] Reed said the results of the DNA tests have been known since 2019, but did not go public with the findings until asked to do so by the victim's families. [17]


Richard Guse, the father of one of the three victims, went on to help the state legislature pass the Oklahoma Victims' Bill of Rights. He also helped found the Oklahoma Crime Victims Compensation Board.[18]

Another parent, Sheri Farmer, founded the Oklahoma chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, a support group.[19][20]


A 1993 documentary called Someone Cry for The Children: The Girl Scout Murders, based on the book of the same name by Michael and Dick Wilkerson, was released. The documentary is narrated by Dale Robertson and Johnny Cash. It was directed by Michael Wilkerson.[21]

A four-part ABC News documentary series, titled Keeper of the Ashes: The Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders, about the case was released on Hulu on May 24, 2022, a few weeks before the 45th anniversary of the crimes. It is hosted by actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth, who was an 8 year-old Girl Scout in 1977 and had planned to go on the camping trip but became ill and did not attend.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Convict Acquitted in Death of 3 Girl Scouts". New York Times. March 31, 1979. Archived from the original on July 8, 2020.
  2. ^ Stanley, Tim (May 6, 2022). "DNA points to longtime primary suspect in 1977 Girl Scout slayings, sheriff says". Tulsa World.
  3. ^ Palmer, Griff (March 21, 1985). "Survivor Didn't Like Tent Where Girls Died". The Oklahoman. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  4. ^ "12 Facts About The Unsolved Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders". Ranker. Retrieved October 11, 2019.
  5. ^ "Slain Girl's Services". The Bonham Daily Favorite. UPI. June 17, 1977. p. 1. Retrieved June 13, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. icon of an open green padlock
  6. ^ Stanley, Tim (June 11, 2017). "40 years ago, the murders of three Girl Scouts in Oklahoma stunned the nation, created shockwaves still being felt". Tulsa World. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Palmer, Griff (March 28, 1985). "Jury Finds in Favor Of Scout Council Slain Girls' Parents "Shocked'". The Oklahoman. Archived from the original on May 1, 2018. Retrieved August 30, 2022.
  8. ^ a b c d Keeping, Juliana; Bailey, Brianna (June 14, 2017). "Girl Scout murders in Oklahoma remain unsolved 40 years after tragedy". The Oklahoman. Archived from the original on July 19, 2017. Retrieved August 30, 2022.
  9. ^ Sinha, Aishwarya (February 8, 2021). "True crime: The Oklahoma Girl Scouts who didn't come home from camp". Film Daily. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  10. ^ Broyles, Gil (March 31, 1979). "Jury acquits suspect in Girl Scout murders". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. p. 3A. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  11. ^ "Autopsy shows Hart died of heart attack". Lawrence Journal-World. Associated Press. June 6, 1979. p. 13. Retrieved June 13, 2017 – via NewspaperArchive.com. icon of an open green padlock
  12. ^ "DNA Tests Link Gene Leroy Hart to Girl Scout Deaths". Oklahoman.com. October 25, 1989. Retrieved October 11, 2019.
  13. ^ "DNA Testing Inconclusive in Girl Scout Murder Case". KOTV-DT. Associated Press. June 25, 2008. Archived from the original on December 21, 2016. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  14. ^ Pelisek, Christine (February 1, 2018). "My Daughter Was Killed at Girl Scout Camp: How an Okla. Mom Seeks Justice 40 Years After Slaying". People. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  15. ^ World, Tim Stanley Tulsa (May 6, 2022). "DNA points to longtime primary suspect in 1977 Girl Scout slayings, sheriff says". Tulsa World. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
  16. ^ World, Tim Stanley Tulsa. "DNA points to longtime primary suspect in 1977 Girl Scout slayings, sheriff says". Tulsa World. Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  17. ^ World, Tim Stanley Tulsa. "DNA points to longtime primary suspect in 1977 Girl Scout slayings, sheriff says". Tulsa World. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  18. ^ Palmer, Griff (January 17, 1985). "Victim's Father Given Award". The Oklahoman. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  19. ^ Jackson, Ron (June 10, 2007). "Three Girl Scouts were murdered thirty years ago". The Oklahoman. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  20. ^ Olson, Pam (June 9, 2002). "Shadow of doubt". Tulsa World. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  21. ^ Wilkerson, Michael, Someone Cry for the Children: The Girl Scout Murders (Documentary), Barrister Productions Inc., retrieved May 8, 2022
  22. ^ "Kristin Chenoweth reveals shocking connection to Girl Scout murders: 'I should have been on that trip'". Entertainment Weekly.


  • Michael and Dick Wilkerson (1981). Someone Cry for the Children: The Unsolved Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders and the Case of Gene Leroy Hart. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-27152-2.
  • McCoy, Gloyd (2011). Tent Number Eight: An Investigation of the Girl Scout Murders & the Trial of Gene Leroy Hart. Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC. ISBN 978-1-61777-632-8.
  • Kelly, C.S. (2014). The Camp Scott Murders: The 1977 Girl Scout Murders. CreateSpace Independent Publishing. ISBN 978-1-5001-5735-7.

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