Oklahoma Girl Scout murders

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Oklahoma Girl Scout murders
Date June 13, 1977
Location Mayes County, Oklahoma
Cause Homicide by strangulation
Outcome Unsolved
Casualties
Lori Lee Farmer, 8
Michelle Heather Guse, 9
Doris Denise Milner, 10
Deaths 3
Suspect(s) Gene Leroy Hart
Verdict Not guilty
Convictions None

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. 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 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.

History[edit]

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.[1]

Discovery of the bodies[edit]

Monday, June 13, 1977, was the first day of camp. At around 7 p.m. the night before, 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.[2] 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 furthest from the Camp Counselor's tent,[3] and partially obscured by the showers for the camp.

Later that morning, at around 6 a.m., 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.[4] Subsequent testing showed that they had been raped, bludgeoned, and strangled.

Aftermath[edit]

Camp Scott was evacuated and was later shut down.

Suspect[edit]

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 tried in March 1979. Although the local sheriff pronounced himself "one thousand percent" certain that Hart was guilty, a local jury acquitted him.[5]

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.[4]

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. On June 4, 1979, he collapsed and died after about an hour of lifting weights and jogging in the prison exercise yard.[6]

In 2008, authorities conducted new DNA testing, the results of which proved inconclusive because the samples were too old.[7]

Legacy[edit]

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.[8]

Another parent, Sheri Farmer, founded the Oklahoma chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, a support group.[9][10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Daily Times (Pryor, Oklahoma) March 21, 1985
  2. ^ "Slain Girl's Services". The Bonham Daily Favorite. UPI. June 17, 1977. p. 1. Retrieved June 13, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.  free to read
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ a b Palmer, Griff (March 28, 1985). "Jury Finds in Favor Of Scout Council Slain Girls' Parents "Shocked'". The Oklahoman. Retrieved June 13, 2017. 
  5. ^ Broyles, Gil (March 31, 1979). "Jury acquits suspect in Girl Scout murders". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. p. 3A. Retrieved June 13, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Autopsy shows Hart died of heart attack". Lawrence Journal-World. Associated Press. June 6, 1979. p. 13. Retrieved June 13, 2017 – via NewspaperArchive.com.  free to read
  7. ^ "DNA Testing Inconclusive in Girl Scout Murder Case". KOTV-DT. Associated Press. June 25, 2008. Retrieved June 13, 2017. 
  8. ^ Palmer, Griff (January 17, 1985). "Victim's Father Given Award". The Oklahoman. Retrieved June 13, 2017. 
  9. ^ Jackson, Ron (June 10, 2007). "Three Girl Scouts were murdered thirty years ago". The Oklahoman. Retrieved June 13, 2017. 
  10. ^ Olson, Pam (June 9, 2002). "Shadow of doubt". Tulsa World. Retrieved June 13, 2017. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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

External links[edit]