Three young Girl Scouts were sexually assaulted and killed in the summer of 1977. Decades on, the Oklahoma Girl Scout murders remain unsolved.
The victims of the Oklahoma Girl Scout murders, Lori Farmer, 8, Michelle Michelle Guse, 9, and Doris Milner, 10, were attending a planned two-week Girl Scout camp in Camp Scott, Mayes County. When a thunderstorm forced them to seek shelter around 7:00 p.m., they bunked together in their assigned tent.
The trio was found dead the next day, with many more questions than answers regarding their murders.
12 Horrifying Facts about the Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders
FACT #1: Guse and Farmer were bludgeoned to death. Milner was strangled to death. All three girls were raped and badly beaten.
FACT #2: Camp Scott was situated on beautiful 400-acre property. The camp had been built in the 1920s, with the funds for the purchase mostly coming from the sale of Girl Scout cookies. After the grisly murders, the camp was abandoned in 1977.
FACT #3: About two months before the murders, a camp counselor had her belongings ransacked and her doughnuts stolen. A chilling message had been placed in the empty doughnut box. The handwritten note promised to murder three campers. The counselor believed the note to be a prank.
FACT #4: Even though campers heard strange sounds throughout the night of the Oklahoma Girl Scout murders, it wasn’t until the next day that Milner’s corpse was found on the road. Nearby, the bodies of Farmer and Guse were found in two zipped sleeping bags. A roll of black duct tape, a cord, and a red flashlight were found at the scene of the crime.
FACT #5: Three K-9s renowned for their tracking abilities were brought to the crime scene. One dog died due to heat stroke and another dog was killed by a car when it ran onto the road.
FACT #6: Investigators found a single hair that did not belong to the victims. After the hair was analyzed, it was determined that it likely came from a Native American. This is what led police to suspect Gene Hart, who was Cherokee.
FACT #7: Hart had an extensive criminal record. He had been given three 10-year sentences in 1966 for raping two pregnant women; however, he was paroled in 1969. Three months later, he was arrested for burglary. He then escaped in 1973 and went on the run, remaining in hiding until the Oklahoma Girl Scout murders.
FACT #8: Due to Hart’s Cherokee ancestry, race became a central and contested part of the investigation. Some local Cherokees and other Native Americans believed that Hart had been unfairly scapegoated because of his background.
According to author Kent Frates, some Native Americans helped Hart while he was on the run. After a massive 10-month manhunt, authorities finally tracked Hart down in a remote tar-paper shack located nearly 50 miles from Camp Scott.
FACT #9: In 1979, Hart was tried for the deaths of the three Girl Scouts. However, he was acquitted by the jury. The contested hair was examined by Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation forensic chemist Ann Reed. She said while it seemed identical to Hart’s hair, she could not be completely certain it was a match.
Even though Hart was not convicted for the Oklahoma Girl Scout murders, he was sent back to prison to complete a sentence of over 300 years for his other crimes. He later died at the age of 35 on June 4, 1979 after suffering a heart attack.
FACT #10: Hart’s sister, Tammy Foreman, believed that her brother was innocent despite his prior history of committing sex crimes. The question of Hart’s guilt or innocence divided local residents.
FACT #11: Starting in 1989, investigators compared semen found on the victims to Hart’s DNA using new techniques. But the tests never yielded conclusive results.
When DNA testing was conducted in 2008, technicians could not create a profile of the man who killed the girls.
District Attorney Gene Hayes said, “If the tests had been successful, the DNA profile could have been compared to the known DNA profiles of suspects, and entered into DNA databases for possible matches.”
FACT #12: This crime has remained unsolved for over 40 years. The lack of answers has caused more emotional turmoil for the victims’ families.
“I wish someone would come forward and make it 100% positive [who killed her]. It still remains open-ended for me,” said Sheri Farmer, mother of Lori Farmer.