Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders: New DNA Test Results Show Suspect Acquitted May Be Guilty
“Every bit of information we’ve gotten over the last 40 years has just continued to nail it down more and more,” says the father of an 8-year-old victim.
Three Girl Scouts in Oklahoma attending their first night of summer camp in 1977 were found brutally slain and recent DNA test results strongly suggest who their killer could be.
Investigators said the girls who were staying at Camp Scott in Mayes County — Lori Lee Farmer, 8, Michelle Guse, 9, and 10-year-old Doris Denise Milner — were sexually assaulted and then murdered sometime between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. on June 13, 1977, KOCO-TV reported.
At the scene, police recovered multiple pieces of evidence connected to the attack, including duct tape and a flashlight. Just over a week after the girls’ murders, on June 23, 1977, authorities named Gene Leroy Hart, a convicted rapist who was at large since escaping from prison in 1973, as a suspect in the case.
Nearly 10 months later, on April 6, 1978, Hart was located hiding out in a remote cabin in the Cookson Hills and arrested on three counts of first-degree murder.
Hart’s trial began on March 19, 1979, and he was acquitted of the triple homicide 11 days later. He was then returned to prison to continue serving sentences that totaled 305 years in connection to previous unrelated rape, kidnapping, and burglary convictions, the Associated Press reported at the time.
On June 4, 1979, Hart died behind bars at age 35 of a heart attack.
On the new ABC News docuseries Keeper of the Ashes: The Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders, actress Kristin Chenoweth recalls how she was supposed to be at the camp with her three friends who were killed but she fell ill, according to KABC-TV.
“I never once thought anything bad could happen,” she said of participating in Girl Scouts. “But I came to learn what murder was.”
After Hart’s acquittal, no other suspects were ever convicted of the slayings. “There's no closure,” Chenoweth said. “There's no pretty red bow at the end.”
While recent DNA tests conducted on forensic evidence were officially ruled inconclusive, Tulsa World reported that partial DNA profiles that were generated matched with Hart and strongly suggest he was involved in the girls’ grisly deaths.
“Every bit of information we’ve gotten over the last 40 years has just continued to nail it down more and more,” victim Lori Lee Farmer’s father, Bo Farmer, told the publication, noting the DNA test results “solidified” his belief Hart was, in fact, responsible for the crime.