Girl Scout Murders: DNA Closes Case 45 Years Later

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The Girl Scout murders have haunted Oklahomans for 45 years, but investigators now say recent DNA tests by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation point to a killer and rule out all other suspects. never mentioned.

It was 1977 when three young campers, Lori Farmer, Michelle Guse and Denise Milner were raped and murdered in Mayes County and although a suspect was arrested and tried he was also acquitted, prompting wild questions and conspiracy theories ever since. . But the families’ quest for justice never ended.

Nine years ago, Lori Farmers’ parents sat down with current Mayes County Sheriff Mike Reed and asked him to take a fresh look at the case and give it a fresh look. They had no idea what he and the OBSI agents were going to find. Reed’s search for the truth has taken him down a road filled with anger, sadness, and sleepless nights, but also with answers.

And while these answers may bring some peace to families, there will never be closure.

“There’s nothing about this that’s peaceful. It’s evil from the start. You have babies, innocent eight, nine and ten year old babies who have been beaten to death and sexually assaulted” , said Reed. .

“It’s a trip I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It’s shocking. It’s different from a death. It’s different from a loss because our daughter was murdered,” said Sheri, the mother by Lori Farmer.

Reed says that during his investigation he tried to find probable cause to prove that someone else had committed the crime.

“I purposely tried to put and prove that someone else was there, someone else did this, and it wasn’t him. I tried to put myself on the other side,” Reed said. “I couldn’t put another person there.”

One request turned into an unexpected nine-year mission to uncover the truth about what happened to the Girl Scouts who were raped and murdered at Camp Scott and put hundreds of conspiracy theories to rest.

On June 12, 1977, 8-year-old Lori Farmer, 9-year-old Michelle Guse, and 10-year-old Denise Milner left for camp, but never returned home. There was an arrest, a trial and an acquittal and ultimately remained unsolved.

Sheriff Reed grew up in Mayes County and was just a boy when the murders shocked the conscience of the small community of Locust Grove. He would never have imagined years later that he would be asked to find answers.

“When I give my word, it means something to me. I gave them my word. I didn’t know what I could do, but I would look into it,” Reed said.

A year after Reed began investigating the case, he and OBSI agents traveled to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Virginia, where 23 of the FBI’s top homicide investigators and behavioral analysts and FBI profilers to the world, make up a board of cold cases. and they all independently combed through every document and piece of evidence. After a month, each of them had come to the same conclusion, the only person to have committed these murders was Gene Leroy Hart.

“I think all of these people working together and coming to a conclusion was really one of those moments for us. That these people who don’t live in Oklahoma, have no idea who it should be, are came to the same conclusion Mike had done it before,” Sheri Farmer said.

Sheri Farmer finally let herself believe they would find out the truth when agents suggested that Reed and OBSI have some of the evidence re-tested for DNA. This test would cost $30,000, money the sheriff’s office didn’t have, but the citizens of Mayes County stepped up and collected every penny and this evidence was tested in 2019 and the results didn’t show. not been published so far.

“Every person that’s been deemed suspicious, there’s not a piece of DNA that we haven’t been able to identify,” Reed said.

Reed says all the DNA in the scene matches the three girls and Hart. Hart was an escaped fugitive when he was arrested for the murders in 1978 after a ten-month long manhunt, but a jury found him not guilty in 1979. But DNA evidence was not available at the time, and Reed’s conclusions go far beyond that. DNA.

“If there was absolutely no DNA whatsoever, just the information that I know now, that was not allowed to be shown to the jury, there is absolutely no doubt Gene Hart is the person who committed these crimes,” Reed said.

Sheriff Reed says it’s not only frustrating that Hart was acquitted. He says the frustration began in 1966, when Hart kidnapped two pregnant women at gunpoint, drove them to the middle of nowhere in County Mayes, tied them up, repeatedly raped them, covered with brushwood and left them for dead.

“Gene Hart is a classic serial rapist. A classic serial rapist,” Reed said.

“The aggravation is this, you do that, you get convicted of that, and you get paroled in two and a half years and hit the road again. I see a problem there. It’s the frustration,” Reed said.

Another frustration over the years is that Reed says he gets at least one phone call a month from someone saying he knows who the killer is and there are a lot of people going on social media. , spouting theories without truth.

“I heard it forever when I was growing up, oh they just looked at one person. Really? I can show you documentation of 139 people interviewed by OBSI and considered a possible suspect in this case. People don’t want not hear that, or they never heard that,” Reed said.

Reed says one of the big myths people have bought into is that there were two different knots used to tie girls up, which would mean two people were involved, but Reed says he’s proven it to be. fake. He said the two knots were technically the same.

“Common sense, well, it’s two different knots, it’s two different people, you see, there’s a trail in there, two different people, two different knots, it’s really not two different knots, it’s the exact same pattern, it’s the same exactly everything,” Reed said.

After all his research and looking at the evidence over and over again, he says he can disprove all the wild theories with real facts, except one thing, which is that there may have been someone involved after the fact because with a bloody imprint. found in one of the tents, but he thinks it makes sense to assume that someone entered the scene innocently.

“It’s very very likely in my opinion that they could have stepped in and realized oh my god I have blood on my shoes. I don’t know. I’m not blaming them.”

He says there is only one reason he has dedicated years to this case and that is to get answers for the families of these little girls. And that means everything to Sheri Farmer and her husband Bo, who are grateful to Reed, the OBSI officers and everyone else, for finally telling them the truth.

“It was progressive. You know because he kept us informed all the time. So he was telling us that’s what I found out about this script, and I think he was very open about it. He didn’t have a preconceived notion,” Farmer said. “Bo and I are both at peace about it because we’ve learned these things a little at a time. It brings us peace. And it gives us a better understanding of everything that happened that night.”

She says every family has grieved in their own way and despite many happy moments over the years, there has always been a missing piece in their lives. Sherie focused on victims’ rights and never stopped needing answers, for all families.

“Mike is one of those people. Like I told him, you’re part of the family now. And he was a big part of bringing all those pieces together and giving us a solution. Going through our grief there was a focus. And the focus was on justice for Lori, Michelle and Denise,” Farmer said.

Gene Leroy Hart died in prison just over two months after being acquitted in 1979 of a heart attack. Hart was in jail for another crime.

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