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Extinguished camp fire
The Tragic Story Of The Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders
History - Science
Content Warning
This story contains discussions of murder and sexual assault.
On June 12, 1977, 140 girl scouts arrived at Camp Scott near Locust Grove, Oklahoma for a two week stay. However, their trip was horrifically cut short the next morning when a camp counselor discovered that three of the girls (Lori Farmer, Michelle Guse, and Denise Milner, all 8-10 years old) had been murdered and raped.
On March 19, 1979, the prime suspect, convicted rapist and escaped inmate Gene Leroy Hart, was put on trial. Though many lines of evidence seemed to indicate his guilt — including items from Camp Scott that were found in a cave he likely hid in — his defense argued that the evidence had been planted to profile him racially (Hart was from the Cherokee Nation).
Ultimately, Hart was acquitted and died later in 1979 while serving time for previous felonies. Many, including investigators, felt that he had gotten away with murdering the girls, but tests done on the DNA from the crime scene in 2008 failed to confirm or rule out his role in the killings.
Though the deaths of Milner, Guse and Farmer remain unsolved, their family members have become prominent victim’s rights activists. Farmer’s family founded the Oklahoma chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, and her mother, Sheri, helped pass Marsy's Law (which gives crime victims in Oklahoma access to a variety of resources) in 2018.