This page will be updated regularly with newspaper articles and online articles about the 1977 murders at Camp Scott. If you have any older articles dating back to 1977 and the initial investigation please email them to me.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has handed over the findings of a new DNA test on a 30-year-old Girl Scout murder case to the Mayes County District Attorney. A Texas lab performed a new type of test on the remaining DNA sample from the scene. Those tests are complete and now are in the hands of the DA.
OSBI officials caution, the sample may be too old or too small for an accurate ID. The sample could point to Gene Hart, who was acquitted of the crime decades ago or it could point to another suspect entirely.
The Mayes County DA will decide when to release those results. There is no word on when that will happen.
DNA results from a 30-year-old triple murder case are back in Oklahoma. A lab in Texas finished analyzing the sample from the Girl Scout murders and sent the results to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation for verification.
The DNA sample may be too old or too small for an accurate ID. The sample could point to Gene Hart who was acquitted of the crime decades ago, or it could point to another suspect entirely.
The lab will turn over the results to the Mayes County District Attorney next week. It will be up to the Mayes County District Attorney whether to make the results public or not.
— OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A DNA sample taken from one of three Girl Scouts who were sexually assaulted and killed nearly three decades ago will be tested in an attempt to bring closure to the case.
Samples from victims are generally a combination of both male and female DNA, with the greater amount being female, said Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown. A new test allows male part to be isolated from the female, Brown said.
“It’s very specific to the male,” Brown said.
When the private laboratory returns the results, later this week at the earliest, OSBI biologists would then prepare a report to be given to Mayes County District Attorney Gene Haynes, Brown said. Haynes is the only person allowed to release the findings, Brown said.
Haynes did not immediately return a telephone message left at his office Wednesday.
Brown said the OSBI received a federal grant to conduct additional tests on cold cases, and chose to use part of it to test DNA related to the unsolved killings of three Girl Scouts, Lori Lee Farmer, 8, of Tulsa; Michele Guse, 9, of Broken Arrow; and Doris Denise Milner, 10, of Tulsa, who were found dead June 13, 1977, at Camp Scott near Locust Grove.
Ideally, Brown said the testing would provide a profile that could be matched to a person by using a computer-based database. A certain amount of DNA is needed to create a profile.
“We had very little left, but we think enough for this testing,” Brown said.
Gene Leroy Hart, who was escaped from prison at the time of the killings, was acquitted on murder charges in the slayings in 1979 and died later that year of a heart attack after being returned to prison.
An FBI test on DNA samples from a semen-stained pillowcase in 1989 were inconclusive, and an attempt to test the pillowcase again in 2002 determined there was no evidence left on it.
LINDA CAVANAUGH REPORTING OKLAHOMA CITY -- There is new information on a haunting event that changed our state. It was a stormy June night thirty years ago at Camp Scott near Locust Grove. A killer committed one of the most heinous crimes in Oklahoma history. Three girl scouts, on their first night at camp, were taken from tent number eight.
People started locking their doors. Gun sales skyrocketed. Parents wouldn't let their kids go off to camp. Oklahoma has lost its innocence. The case has remained open for all these years, but word of a new development may solve the mystery of the Girl Scout murders.
Sheri Farmer holds a precious reminder of her daughter. "I've met two new friends; Michelle Guse and Denise Milner," Sherri says as she reads a letter from her daughter. It was eight-year-old Lori's first letter home from camp. It was written with only hours to live. "I'm sharing a tent with them. We're sleeping on cots," the letter reads. "I couldn't wait to write. Love, Lori."
It would be Lori's last letter. Before dawn, Lori's body and those of her tent mates would be found. They were stuffed into their sleeping bags; now their coffins. They were savagely raped, beaten, and strangled. Former Highway Patrolman Harold Berry was one of the first on the scene. Berry says, "You're not ready to drive up on something like that and find three little girls. That's something I'll take to my grave."
Eight-year-old Lori Farmer, nine-year-old, Michele Guse and 10-year-old, Denise Milner had been taken from their tent during the darkness of the night. Their murders sparked a manhunt unlike any in state history. Six hundred volunteers combed the heavily wooded area looking for the murderer. The state's main suspect was Gene Leroy Hart; a Native American man with hundreds of friends and relatives in the area; very effectively hiding him until an informant squealed.
"It was a tar paper shack. The living room had his weight machine where he was lifting weights," says OSBI Agent, Harvey Pratt. "I ran around to the front of the house and they had him lying on the ground." Seconds after the capture, Pratt took photos to prove Hart hadn't been harmed. "He was a very powerful man and he didn't seem to be shocked or intimidated," Pratt explains. "He smoked a cigarette. I just thought he was very controlled almost to the point of indifference."
An anonymous donor hired Attorney Garvin Isaacs to defend Hart. Garvin says, "He was humorous, personable, and intelligent; well read." "Gene Hart was a troubled, if not a mentally ill man," says former OSBI Agent and Chief Inspector on the case, Dick Wilkerson He says Hart was an escapee; a convicted rapist.
Hart had brutally assaulted two pregnant women and the manner in which Hart raped and sodomized those women was eerily similar to the Girl Scout murders. Wilkerson says all the evidence pointed to Hart. "I know that I worked 185 "who done it" homicides and this was the strongest one I ever saw." Wilkerson says. Garvin Isaacs maintains his client was framed. "Yes, yes he was," Garvin says. "There's a footprint in the blood on the floor where the little girls were murdered. And the footprint is a size 10 and Hart's feet are like 11.5. And there's a thumb print on the flashlight, and that's not Hart's. You can't shrink your foot and you can't change your fingerprints."
It was up to a jury to decide and they did. They acquitted Hart. Wilkerson says Harts friends and family came through for him. "I would submit to you that one could not have convicted Gene Hart in Mayes County if you had a videotape of the crime," Wilkerson says. "Even though I had been in law enforcement for a number of years, this was the first time I saw the system fail and it was devastating to me. I had never seen the system fail." Garvin Isaacs says, "People were ready to lynch Hart, and us for representing him, until they found out what the truth was about some of this. Then I think people were really disturbed. People are still disturbed by what happened over here." Hart was returned to prison to continue serving over 300 years on prior convictions.
Within weeks, still in his thirties, Hart died of a heart attack at McAlester. And so, the Girl Scout murders have officially remained an open case, but now a new development could shed light on the thirty year murder mystery.
A new type of DNA test, being conducted right now, has the potential to prove once and for all whether Hart was the killer, or whether the real murderer is still out there. Ryan Porter, OSBI Criminologist, says, "It is exciting. I worked a case, a 20-year-old rape and homicide, where we were able to determine the DNA matched the suspect. He was tried and convicted on a 20-year-old rape and homicide." Will this new DNA test prove Hart to be the sole murderer? Wilkerson says, "Unquestionably; unquestionably." Or would the DNA clear Hart? Isaacs says, "It would. No doubt in my mind. If somebody says it doesn't clear him, somebody has planted more evidence."
Sheri Farmer waits for the answer. "As Lori's mother, I felt like, up until the time she left to go to camp, I knew everything about her life. I washed her hair. I took her to school. And now, in death, I don't know what happened to her," Farmer says. In a closet, seldom opened, Sheri Farmer has much of the evidence collected from the crime scene. Investigators were going to throw it away. Her daughter's suitcase is still stained with the dustings of the fingerprint powder. "Here's her shirt," Farmer says. "So tiny; so tiny."
Time has turned the blood brown. Sheri believes the killer left part of him self somewhere in this evidence, and if the current DNA being tested isn't conclusive, someday somehow the murders will be solved. "I think there's something in there that has the answer. I think there's a reason I kept it. I think there's an answer," Sheri Farmer says. But there is no answer that will compensate for the loss of a daughter. "It's when I'm watching my other children with their children and my heart aches to know that Lori didn't get to experience that," Sheri says.
The results of the DNA testing should be back by the end of this week. OSBI criminologists will analyze the report before forwarding them to Mayes County DA, Gene Haynes.
NewsChannel 4 will bring you the results as soon as we get them. They are results that may close one of the state's most notorious open cases.
Ironically, it's almost thirty years to the day that three little girls boarded a bus for their first day at camp.