Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Lori Farmer And Michelle Guse
The Oklahoma Girl Scout murders is an unresolved crime in rural Mayes County, Oklahoma. On a rainy, late-spring night in 1977, three girls—ages 8, 9, and 10—were raped and murdered and their bodies left in the woods near their tent at summer camp. Although the case was classified as "solved" when Gene Leroy Hart, a local jail escapee with a history of violence was arrested, and stood trial for the crime, he was acquitted. Thirty years later authorities conducted new DNA testing, but the results of these proved inconclusive, as the samples were too old.
In 1977, Camp Scott was in its 49th year as a keystone of the Tulsa-based Magic Empire Girl Scout Council. Situated along the confluence of Snake Creek and Spring Creek near State Highway 82, the 410-acre (1.7 km2) compound was located between Locust Grove and Tahlequah.
Gene Leroy Hart had been at large since escaping four years earlier from the Mayes County Jail. He had been convicted of raping and kidnapping two pregnant women as well as four counts of first degree burglary.
Hart was raised about a mile from Camp Scott.
Less than two months before the murders, during an on-site training session, a camp counselor found her belongings ransacked, her doughnuts stolen, and inside the empty doughnut box was a disturbing hand-written note. The author vowed to murder three campers. The director of that camp session treated the note as a prank and it was discarded.
June 12, 1977 was the first day of camp. Around 6pm a thunderstorm hit, and the girls huddled in their tents. Among them were Tulsans Lori Lee Farmer, 8, and Doris Denise Milner, 10, along with Michele Guse, 9, of Broken Arrow, a suburb of Tulsa. The trio were sharing tent #8 in the camp's "Kiowa" unit, named for a Native American tribe.
The following morning, a counselor made the discovery of a girl's body in the forest. Soon, it was discovered that all three girls in tent #8 had been killed. Subsequent testing showed that they had been raped, bludgeoned, and strangled.
Camp Scott was evacuated and would never reopen.
Gene Leroy Hart, a Cherokee, was arrested within a year at the home of a Cherokee medicine man and tried in March, 1979. Although the local sheriff pronounced himself "one thousand percent" certain the man on trial committed the crimes, a local jury acquitted Hart.
Two of the families later sued the Magic Empire Council and its insurer in a $5 million alleged negligence action. The civil trial included discussion of the threatening note as well as the fact that tent #8 lay 86-yard (79 m) from the counselors' tent. The defense suggested that the future of summer camping in general hung in the balance. In 1985, by a 9–3 vote, jurors sided with the camp.
By this time, Hart was already dead. As a convicted rapist and jail escapee, he still had 305 of his 308 years left to serve in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. In June 1979, during a jog inside the jail, he collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack.
Richard Guse, the father of one of the victims, went on to help the state legislature pass the Oklahoma Victim's Bill of Rights. Guse also helped found and then chaired the Oklahoma Crime Victims' Compensation Board, which would later gain prominence for its "Murrah Fund" in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing.
Another parent, Sheri Farmer, went on to found the Oklahoma chapter of support group Parents of Murdered Children.