LOCUST GROVE, OK- Forty years ago today, in the early morning hours of June 13, 1977, three young girl scouts were found sexually assaulted and murdered at Camp Scott near Locust Grove -- Lori Lee Farmer, 8; Michelle Guse, 9; and Denise Milner, 10.
Camp Scott, now abandoned, was the summer camp and first big sleep-away adventure for scores of Oklahoma Girl Scouts. Scouts sold cookies to pay their way to Camp Scott for a two-week stay and as their parents dropped them off no one could have predicted the horrors that would take place.
During the early morning hours of June 13, 1977, Denise and two other girls, Lori Farmer and Michelle Gouse, were brutally assaulted and murdered inside of their cabin. The murders sparked a massive manhunt.
For nearly a year, agents arrested Gene Leroy Hart. Hart had escaped from the Mayes County jail a few years earlier. He had been convicted of kidnapping and raping two pregnant women. He kidnapped them from Tulsa and took them to Mayes County where he grew up.
Hart talked about his daily rituals, his Cherokee roots and his belief that he was framed because he was Native American.
"I represent the fears and doubts about any system that has the means and power to overwhelm each of us," said Hart.
In 1979, a Mayes County jury acquitted Hart of the three murders. However, he went back to prison to serve the remainder of the time on the kidnapping and sexual assault convictions. He died of a heart attack a few months later.
"I do believe in God," said Milner, Denise's mother. "Justice would be served regardless and that the crime was too powerful for man to serve justice. I'm not sure I understand what people mean by closure… To me, what I think about is she's still dead and the things that happened to her happened to her, no matter what the law decides"