Please welcome April Atkinson of Adairsville, Georgia, as a new contributor to True Crime Historian.
On June 12, 1977, a group of Girl Scouts were camping in Mayers County, Oklahoma, at a well known camping ground known as “Camp Scott.”
On the first night a vicious storm forced all the campers to huddle inside their tents, waiting for it to pass. The following day the bodies of three Girl Scouts, aged between 8 and 10 were found dumped in the woods not far from their camp, sexually molested and murdered.
A few months earlier, a camp counselor attending a training session had returned to her tent to find all of her things messily strewn about and her doughnuts had been taken. There was a handwritten note inside the doughnut box which stated that the writer would murder three campers in one tent. The counselor was not concerned. It was a place of scary campfire tales after all, and pranks were very common. She threw the note out, but just two months later, the note seemed to have been a real warning.
On June 13, Carla Emery, an 18-year-old camp counselor, was on her way to the showers when she discovered the dead body of 10 year old Doris Denise Milner. There was a towel and a rope wrapped around her neck and she was naked from the waist down. Nearby she found the bodies of 8 year old Lori Lee Farmer and 9 year old Michele Guise. Both of these girls had black electrical tape over their mouths, and their bodies had been put inside their sleeping bags. Doris had been strangled to death. Michele and Lori had been bludgeoned to death. All three bodies had been removed from the tent and carried more than 100 yards away from the camp ground.
The hunt began to find the killer. The floor of the tent, a wooden board, was airlifted to a crime laboratory due to the apparent unsuccessful attempt of someone who tried mopping up all the blood with towels and mattresses. A red flashlight which had a piece of newspaper inside it, a nylon rope and a roll of electrical tape was found near the bodies, and several pairs of prescription glasses were also found lying around.
K-9 police dogs were called in and tracked the area. It was found that the murderer had passed by a counselor’s tent to get to the girls. A cave was found nearby which had a newspaper in it, the same newspaper that fitted the scrap in the flashlight. Photographs of two women were also in the cave. It was discovered that the pictures were taken by a prison guard who was an occasional photographer, and had been developed by prison escapee Gene Leroy Hart.
Gene Leroy Hart had kidnapped two pregnant women (both who wore spectacles), driven them to a wooded area where he bound and raped both women. He put duct tape over their nostrils and left them to suffocate to death. The victims were able to free themselves and escape, which lead to his arrest.
Gene Leroy Hart was tracked down and arrested (and found wearing women’s glasses). He was charged with the murder of the three girls but the jury of his peers, six men and six women, could not find irrefutable evidence and Hart was acquitted.
As he was an escaped prisoner, he was thrown back in prison, and a year later collapsed and died of a heart attack. He proclaimed his innocence up until his death.
In 2008 a DNA test was performed using material from the crime scene. The investigators stated the results were “inconclusive.”
The case is officially still open, although inactive. Camp Scott had served Girl Scouts for almost half a century but has never re-opened since this tragedy.