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. This was not handled correctly, a smart person would cancel camp for that summer.. I would hope so anyways. Joke or not, it should’ve been taken seriously. Either way they knew a strange man had somehow accessed and ransacked the camp counselors cabin. Makes me think twice about ever letting my kids leave my house.

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.

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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.

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Camp Scott was evacuated and was later shut down.

Suspect

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. The main story of the defense was that he had a vasectomy, this made it hard for the jury to believe he’d been the one who raped/killed these girls. Keep in mind a lot of places still believe in rehabilitation not just incarceration. On June 4, 1979, he collapsed and died after about an hour of lifting weights and jogging in the prison exercise yard. It was later found out at the “Vasectomy” he had apparently, came loose. Now I’m no doctor, nor do I know how vasectomies work. But in this case I’d say maybe the prosecutor should’ve looked into this small detail before the trial and maybe they’d have had a fighting chance. So In reality he probably was the killer all along, but by the time they had the right technology to test the DNA samples were unusable. There was just too much coincidence involving him and the murders. Luckily he was caught, even if he wasn’t charged with their murders he was locked away for his other horrific crimes.

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.

DNA testing

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.

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

Posted by Carrie Dean

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