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Oklahoma Girl Camp Scout Murders: How Did They Die and Who Killed Them?

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From Left – Michele Heather Guse (9), Lori Lee Farmer (8), and Doris Denise Milner (8)

Lori Farmer, Doris Milner, and Michele Guse Murders: How Did They Die? Who Killed Them? – Three young girls were murdered during a seemingly innocent camping trip for a group of Girl Scouts at Camp Scott in Mayes County, Oklahoma. ‘Keeper of the Ashes: The Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders,’ a four-part Hulu docuseries, examines the case and sheds light on the victims: Lori Farmer, Doris Milner, and Michele Guse.

So, if you’re curious in what transpired on that fateful June night in 1977, we’ve got you covered.

Read Also: Is Gene Leroy “Sonny” Hart Dead? How Did He Die?

How Did Lori Farmer, Doris Milner, and Michele Guse Die

Lori Farmer, Doris Milner, and Michele Guse: How Did They Die?

The Oklahoma Girl Scout murders are an unsolved murder case that occurred at Camp Scott in Mayes County, Oklahoma, on June 13, 1977. Three Girl Scouts between the ages of eight and ten were raped and murdered. Their bodies were discovered 150 yards (140 metres) from their summer camp tent, on a trail heading to the showers. When Gene Leroy Hart, a local jail escapee with a history of violence, was apprehended, the case was declared closed.

Hart, on the other hand, was acquitted in March 1979 when a jury unanimously found him not guilty. In 2022, it was revealed that, despite being officially inconclusive, DNA testing in the case clearly indicated Hart’s involvement in the crime.

A counsellor at Camp Scott realised her possessions had been raided and her doughnuts had been stolen during an on-site training session less than two months before the murders. “We are on a mission to kill three girls in tent one,” a handwritten note inside the empty doughnut box stated in big letters. The memo was considered as a joke by the director of that camp session, and it was tossed.

Girl Camp Scout Murders: The bodies were Discovered

A thunderstorm hit the area around 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 12, 1977, the night before camp started, and the girls hid in their tents. Lori Lee Farmer (8), Doris Denise Milner (8), and Michele Heather Guse (9) were among them. The females were all from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, a Tulsa suburb. They were sharing tent #7 in the “Kiowa” section of the camp, which was the furthest away from the camp counselor’s tent and somewhat concealed by the camp’s showers.

On June 13, a camp counsellor, on her way to the shower, discovered a girl’s body in her sleeping bag in the woods at about 6 a.m. All three girls in tent #7 had been murdered, and it was soon revealed. Their bodies had been dumped around 150 yards from their tent on a trail leading to the showers. They had been raped, bludgeoned, and strangled, according to subsequent testing.

On top of the girls’ bodies was discovered a huge, red flashlight with a fingerprint on the lens that had never been identified. A 9.5 shoe size footprint was also discovered in the blood in the tent. A landowner reported hearing “quite a bit” of vehicles on a lonely road near the camp between 2:30 and 3 a.m. on June 13.

Oklahoma Girl Camp Scout Murders
Tent #7 in the “Kiowa” section of the camp (Broken Arrow, Oklahoma)

Suspect in Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders

Gene Leroy Hart (November 27, 1943 – June 4, 1979) had been on the run since leaving the Mayes County Jail in 1973. He had previously been found guilty of kidnapping and raping two pregnant women, as well as four charges of first-degree burglary. Hart, a Cherokee nation member, was born roughly a mile from Camp Scott and was captured at the home of a Cherokee medicine man within a year. Garvin A. Isaacs, a local Oklahoma attorney, represented him.

In March 1979, he was put on trial. Despite the fact that the local sheriff was “one thousand percent” satisfied that Hart was guilty, a local jury found him not guilty. Hart was still serving 305 years of his 308-year sentence at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary as a convicted rapist and jail escapee. After nearly one hour of lifting weights and jogging in the prison exercise yard, Hart fell and died of a heart attack on June 4, 1979, at the age of 35.

Two of the families eventually filed a $5 million negligence lawsuit against the Magic Empire Council and its insurer. The threatening note and the fact that tent #8 was 86 yards (79 metres) from the counsellors’ tent were discussed during the civil trial. Jurors decided in favour of Magic Empire by a 9–3 decision in 1985.

DNA Analysis in Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders

Three of the five probes matched Hart’s DNA, according to DNA testing completed in 1989. According to statistics, 1 in 7,700 Native Americans’ DNA would get these results. Authorities retested stains found on a pillowcase in 2008, but the results were inconclusive because the materials were “too degraded to obtain a DNA profile.” The sheriff raised $30,000 in contributions in 2017 to do additional DNA tests utilising cutting-edge testing technology.

Authorities made DNA evidence strongly supporting Hart’s involvement public in 2022. “Unless something new comes out, something brought to light that we are not aware of,” Mayes County Sheriff Mike Reed stated, “I am certain where I am sitting of Hart’s guilt and involvement in this case.” The results of the DNA testing have been known since 2019, but Reed claimed he did not make the information public until the victims’ relatives begged him to.

Who Killed Lori Farmer, Doris Milner, and Michele Guse
Gene Leroy “Sonny” Hart

Who Killed Lori Farmer, Doris Milner, and Michele Guse?

Authorities descended on the campsite after the dead were discovered, learning that anyone might have wandered in later that night. The front entrance was not secured after 11 p.m. on June 12, 1977, even though the gates were sealed.

The side gate near the Kiowa unit was the same (the victims were a part of this group). Authorities discovered a flashlight and a roll of duct tape at the murder site, which had been used on the three little girls.

Inside the tent, blood was discovered on the flap, the floor, and the mattresses. A palm print was detected that was later deemed to belong to an investigator. There was also a bloody shoeprint on the inside. Lori and Michele were believed to have been slain inside the tent at the time, while Doris was carried or asked to walk outside to where the bodies were subsequently discovered.

Authorities discovered evidence linked to the crime scene in a cave a few miles from the campsite a few days after the murder. The police had already started looking for their suspect, Gene Leroy “Sonny” Hart, by that time. He was previously convicted and sentenced for kidnapping and raping two pregnant women. He was dodging authorities at the time of the incident after escaping jail; he had been condemned to almost 300 years for burglary.

Sonny was apprehended in April 1978, eleven months after the search began. The prosecution produced biological evidence at trial that pointed to Sonny as the killer but did not prove his guilt. Furthermore, Sonny’s bloodied shoeprint was far too small to be his. In 1979, he was found not guilty of the three murders. Sonny died in prison for a burglary conviction a few months later.

The authorities then declared in May 2022, that DNA tests completed in 2019 had revealed that Sonny was the only person on the suspect list who couldn’t be ruled out as the killer. Despite the fact that he was not living to face justice, the announcement provided some closure to the victims’ families. It supported the investigators’ original theory that Sonny was the culprit.

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