Oklahoma Girl Scout murders
|Date||June 13, 1977|
|Location||Mayes County, Oklahoma, U.S.|
|Cause||Homicide by strangulation|
|Suspects||Gene Leroy Hart|
The Oklahoma Girl Scout murders is an unsolved murder case that occurred 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 had been left on a trail leading to the showers, about 150 yards (140 meters) from their tent at summer camp. The case was classified as solved when Gene Leroy Hart, a local jail escapee with a history of violence, was arrested. However, he was acquitted when he stood trial for the crime.
Less than two months before the murders, during an on-site training session, a camp counselor discovered that her belongings had been ransacked and her doughnuts had been stolen. Inside the empty doughnut box was a disturbing hand-written note. The writer of the note vowed to murder three campers. The director of that camp session treated the note as a prank, and it was discarded.
Discovery of the bodies
At around 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 12, 1977, the night before camp started, a thunderstorm hit the area, and the girls huddled in their tents. Among them were Lori Lee Farmer, 8, Doris Denise Milner, 10, and Michelle Heather Guse, 9. The girls were residents of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa. They were sharing tent #8 in the camp's "Kiowa" unit which was located the farthest from the Camp Counselor's tent, and partially obscured by the showers for the camp. At around 6 a.m. on June 13, a camp counselor on her way to the shower found a girl's body in her sleeping bag in the forest. It was soon discovered that all three girls in tent #8 had been killed. Their bodies had been left on a trail leading to the showers, about 150 yards from their tent at summer camp. Subsequent testing showed that they had been raped, bludgeoned, and strangled.
A large, red flashlight was found on top of the girls' bodies; a fingerprint was found on the lens, but it has never been identified. A footprint from a 9.5 shoe size was also found in the blood in the tent. Between 2:30 and 3 a.m. on June 13, a landowner heard "quite a bit" of traffic on a remote road near the camp.
Camp Scott was evacuated and was later shut down.
Gene Leroy Hart 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. Hart was raised about a mile from Camp Scott. Hart, a Cherokee, 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. On June 4, 1979, he collapsed and died after about an hour of lifting weights and jogging in the prison exercise yard.
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 #8 was 86 yards (79 m) from the counselors' tent. In 1985, by a 9–3 vote, jurors decided in favor of Magic Empire. By that time, Hart was already dead. As a convicted rapist and jail escapee, he still had 305 years of his 308-year sentence left to serve in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
In 1989, DNA testing was done and proved that in DNA testing at the time three of the five probes matched Hart's DNA making the chance Hart was the killer 1 in 7,700. 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". In 2017, $30,000 in donations were raised by the sheriff in order to do new DNA tests using the latest advances in testing.
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.
- Crime in Oklahoma
- List of murdered American children
- List of unsolved deaths
- Murder of Marcia Trimble
- "12 Facts About The Unsolved Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders". Ranker. Retrieved October 11, 2019.
- "Slain Girl's Services". The Bonham Daily Favorite. UPI. June 17, 1977. p. 1. Retrieved June 13, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- 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.
- Palmer, Griff (March 28, 1985). "Jury Finds in Favor Of Scout Council Slain Girls' Parents "Shocked'". The Oklahoman. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
- Keeping, Juliana; Bailey, Brianna (June 14, 2017). "Girl Scout murders in Oklahoma remain unsolved 40 years after tragedy". The Oklahoman. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
- Broyles, Gil (March 31, 1979). "Jury acquits suspect in Girl Scout murders". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. p. 3A. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
- "Autopsy shows Hart died of heart attack". Lawrence Journal-World. Associated Press. June 6, 1979. p. 13. Retrieved June 13, 2017 – via NewspaperArchive.com.
- "DNA Tests Link Gene Leroy Hart to Girl Scout Deaths". Oklahoman.com. October 25, 1989. Retrieved October 11, 2019.
- "DNA Testing Inconclusive in Girl Scout Murder Case". KOTV-DT. Associated Press. June 25, 2008. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
- 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.
- Palmer, Griff (January 17, 1985). "Victim's Father Given Award". The Oklahoman. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
- Jackson, Ron (June 10, 2007). "Three Girl Scouts were murdered thirty years ago". The Oklahoman. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
- Olson, Pam (June 9, 2002). "Shadow of doubt". Tulsa World. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
- Michael and Dick Wilkerson, Someone Cry for the Children: The Unsolved Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders and the Case of Gene Leroy Hart. 1981. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-27152-2
- Gloyd McCoy, Tent Number Eight: An Investigation of the Girl Scout Murders & the Trial of Gene Leroy Hart. 2011. Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC. ISBN 978-1-61777-632-8
- C.S. Kelly, The Camp Scott Murders: The 1977 Girl Scout Murders. 2014. CreateSpace Independent Publishing. ISBN 978-1-5001-5735-7
- "Three Girl Scouts were murdered thirty years ago" in The Oklahoman
- Voices of Oklahoma interview with Nancy McDonald. First person interview conducted on July 13, 2010, with Nancy McDonald, board member when the Girl Scout murders took place.
- 40 years after the Girl Scout murders in the Tulsa World. The World has the definitive series on the murders published June 2017.
- "Murdered Girl Scouts at Camp Scott"