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The Girl Scout Camp Murders

girl scout murder oklahoma

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#16    Anonymous User

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 10:55 PM

View PostTaun, on 17 September 2012 - 10:38 PM, said:

I've been casually interested in this case for a long time - as I said earlier here in Oklahoma it's been a topic of discussion for a long time...  The books are used and I got each for about $9 dollars... (with shipping)...

And what's not to get excited about this case? It's got mystery, Native American medicine men, supernatural claims (skin walkers), politics (The American Indian Movement - AIM- got involved) the largest manhunt in state history, various death curses (The tracking dogs were cursed by a medicine man and within hours the first one died of heat stroke, and the second inexplicably got loose and ran in front of a truck on the highway...) - The chief suspect was given a curse that if he was found not guilty he would die, and within three months of the acquittal he died of a heart attack.......  And through it all no justice for those three children... (edit to add - factor in a racially charged jury - that may have acquitted him because he was 'one of theirs meaning a local football hero and a member of the tribe)

What's not to find interesting about this case?

I didn't mean for that to sound negative or anything above, I was under the impression this was something you had come across recently. And yes I agree, it's definitely an Interesting case and by all means if you want to know more about it the two books published are probably some of the best resources you can find. Happy Investigating!

Edit: Spelling.

Edited by Thomas J, 17 September 2012 - 10:58 PM.


#17    Taun

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 11:05 PM

View PostThomas J, on 17 September 2012 - 10:55 PM, said:

I didn't mean for that to sound negative or anything above, I was under the impression this was something you had come across recently. And yes I agree, it's definitely an Interesting case and by all means if you want to know more about it the two books published are probably some of the best resources you can find. Happy Investigating!

Edit: Spelling.

(as your people might say) No worries mate!  I didn't take it as anything negative... though I must now confess that after reading your post I was told that one of the books - "Tent Number 8" is available on Nook (which I subscribe to) so I just plunked down another 8 bucks for a digital copy....  Sometimes I'm a doofus.... :huh:


#18    regi

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 01:16 PM

I think the most perplexing aspect of the crime is that the girls were taken from their tent. Why? And why would two be in sleeping bags? Because of the blood in the tent, it sounds like the two girls in sleeping bags could have been killed there (which is what could explain the sleeping bags), but then why move them after they're dead?
I'll be searching for more facts.

Hart was an interesting suspect, but I'm not sure he was the perp.

Thanks for presenting this very interesting case, Taun.

Edited by regi, 19 September 2012 - 01:19 PM.


#19    Taun

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 02:19 PM

View Postregi, on 19 September 2012 - 01:16 PM, said:

I think the most perplexing aspect of the crime is that the girls were taken from their tent. Why? And why would two be in sleeping bags? Because of the blood in the tent, it sounds like the two girls in sleeping bags could have been killed there (which is what could explain the sleeping bags), but then why move them after they're dead?
I'll be searching for more facts.

Hart was an interesting suspect, but I'm not sure he was the perp.

Thanks for presenting this very interesting case, Taun.

I'm a couple chapters into the book "Tent Number Eight" and it was determined that the two girls that were found in sleeping bags, were killed, molested, then placed back in their bags and taped up, then placed where they would be found...  A truly evil individual...  Also, while the police and searchers were out looking, apparently he snuck back into camp, and left a pair of shoes from one of the girls, on the steps of one of the main buildings... Basically taunting the searchers...

About Hart... The author of the book seems (so far) to be of the same mind as you... He presents the case that the Sherriff - who knew Hart well - 'had it in for him'... The Sherriff was quickly coming up on re-election and Hart had escaped from his jail a couple years earlier and he had never found him - making the Sherriff look bad...

Personally, I'm still leaning toward Hart being the perp, but I'm trying to keep an open mind...

Edited by Taun, 19 September 2012 - 02:31 PM.


#20    Taun

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 02:29 PM

The girls (all three) were killed in the 'tent' (actually more like a cabin with canvas sides), the two youngest were apparently asleep when he entered, while the oldest may have been awake trying to write a letter home...

While I haven't read a complete descriptive time line of the actual crime yet, I gather that he strangled the eldest then bludgeoned the two sleeping ones... put the two youngest in their bags, and carried all three (if it was Hart, he was a very fit athletic man) 150 feet away where he could molest them without the noise alerting anyone...  I could be wrong on the details, as I said I'm only a couple chapters into the book...


#21    Taun

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 02:43 PM

I just visited a web site devoted to this crime and found out that the tents were indeed tents... they were setting on raised wooden floors however..

here are a few pics... two of where the bodies were found (the two youngest still present - as no one had opened the sleeping bags yet - they still thought they only had one death)  and another of tent number 8..


Tent Number 8:
Posted Image

The site where the bodies were found, moments after they discovered the two other bodies:
Posted Image

The two youngest as they were found:
Posted Image


pics from this website:
http://girlscoutmurders.com/


#22    regi

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 02:15 PM

That web site, "girlscoutmurders", has a link to some of the testimony from the pretrial transcript. The testimony is from counselors from the Kiowa "arm" of the camp (where the murders occurred). If any of the girls reported anything out of the ordinary, it apparently wasn't reported to those counselors whose testimony is available.

The counselors were there at the camp for orientation the week before the children were to arrive. Per her duty, and before she left the camp on the Friday before the children were to arrive that Sunday, Dee Elders (one of the three counselors assigned to Kiowa) checked all the tents for any needed repairs. She testified that when she returned Sunday, she saw that one tent, tent 3, had a slash in it.
Another counselor, Carla Wilhite testified that she saw about a six inch rip in the front flap of the tent, but testified that it could have been caused by the wind. (I don't know if the tent flap had been visible the previous Friday so that the rip- if it was there at that time- could have been noticed, but it's certainly appears sinister when considered with info that there was also a threatening letter received. (I seem to recall that that letter was found during the week of orientation, but I'll have to go back to verify that.)

Wilhite offered the most enlightening testimony as far as the evidence is concerned. She testified that after the murders, when she went back to collect her things, that a pair of her eyeglasses (she had two with her) and her kapo (an elastic guitar accessory) which she had left on a shelf top of a crate beside her bed, were missing.
She identified her missing items by photos shown to her during her testimony. Apparently, the items had been collected from the campgrounds somewhere. The items were State's Exhibit 10 (kapo), Exhibit 11 (eyeglasses), and Exhibit 12 (eyeglass case).

Wilhite testified that she'd heard a noise late that Sunday night and it appeared to come from an area by a gate...that the noise didn't sound human or animal, but when she focused her flashlight in that direction, the noise stopped.

She testified that Susan Emery (the third counselor) had said that someone had taken her purse. (I assume that was said after the murders.)

It had rained the first evening of camp and a towel had been hanging out to dry (somehow, it hung off of the counselors tent) which appeared to have a blood smear on it, and (of course) it was collected as evidence.


It'd be great to have the trial transcript. It should be obtainable, but at a cost.
I'd be willing to pitch in so that it can be posted.

I'm still reading through the newspaper articles linked to from that website.
I've read that the evidence that first linked Hart to the murders was two photos. I've read in one place that the photos were found near the bodies, and then read in another place that they were found near the camp- but a warrant was issued for Hart based on those photos. Now, he was already a fugitive for several years and so he was already under a warrant, but he wasn't wanted for questioning regarding the murders...he was already accused of committing the murders!
(I should explain that it was reported that while in prison, Hart had been an assistant to a photographer, and that the photos had been taken at a wedding at which Hart had assisted the photographer, and that Hart had developed the negatives and prints in the prison darkroom.)

Edited by regi, 20 September 2012 - 02:22 PM.


#23    Taun

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:01 PM

The book I'm trying to read (I don't care much for the authors style of writting) addressed some of what you raised...

According to the book - Wilhite was the only counselor that was notified of 'night noises'... She did a cursory check by flashlight and decided to not wake up the other couselors  among her reasons was that she was young (still in college) and was afraid that they would think she was too young for the responsibilites (I imagine she regrets that greatly)...  The other reports of 'being grabbed', moaning noises, and some one crying "Momma", came during police interviews with the children - not that night...

The tent rips have not been mentioned (yet) so I don't know about them - but it is very possible that it was 'normal wear and tear' ...

The photographs were found in a near by cave along with a carved inscription that the killer had been there and some mocking comments toward the police... As the photo's don't show the girls, or the camp, the only signifigence to them is that they were known to have been developed and owned by Hart - and they were found in very close proximity to the murder site... I'm not sure why Hart would have carried the photo's around - they certainly weren't spectacular in any regards... His supporters claim that the Sherriff planted the photo's...  Who knows...

As I said in an earlier post, the author of the book is taking the stance that Hart was framed for the murders - so i don't know how much that will color what is in the book... The second book I ordered "Someone Cry For The Children" was written by two OSBI agents (who had no political axe to grind with Hart) - so I am waiting to read it to decide how I feel about Hart..

If the transcript isn't too hideously expensive i would'nt mind chipping in...  It might be too long to post on UM but it could be linked I'm sure...


#24    regi

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 07:07 PM

I've read that the other book on the case is biased the other way...

I've gone back over the pretrial testimony. Dee Elders testified that after the discovery of the murders, the children were taken to a hall where they had breakfast. The weren't aware that anything had happened, and later, Barbara Day- the camp director- asked the children if they'd heard anything the previous night, and apart from noises and sounds from other children, no one had heard anything.

Re: that threatening note, that info came from wikipedia and I'm not sure how credible the source is because it appears to be a newspaper article. The info the site reports is that the note was found two months before the murders...that three campers would be murdered...and that the camp director subsequently discarded the note. At this point, I'm not sure what to make of that info.
Same with the tear in the tent. I'm not aware that a knife was used in the commission of the murders (it might seem more sinister if one was) but who knows if it was even relevant to what ultimately happened?

Wilhite didn't testify that she was notified of night noises; the children were noisy as was expected on the first night of camp and they were up late giggling and laughing and had to be quieted down at least a couple of times.
At about 1:30 am, Wilhite (and I think her co-counselors also), heard the latrine door slamming. Wilhite went out and found the girls from one tent returning from the latrine, and so she escorted them back to their tent.
Wilhite got up one last time when she and Elders heard the same unitentified noise. Wilhite described the noise as sounding like "a fog horn, a frog, or a snore."

I don't know why Hart would have kept those photos in the first place, and why he still had them in his possession, but he did and he was a fugitive and was hiding out near where he'd grown up. My point is, why wouldn't he be? He was close to the camp, but he was also close to where he'd grown up. I don't mean to defend Hart... his record showed him to be a rapist. He was also a burglar. I'm just not sure he was also a murderer.
According to an article (I'll have to locate the link), there were three other person's of interest; Sonny James, Frank Justice, and Bill Stevens.

The transcript could be expensive...I think it depends on the length- I don't know- but I agree re: the expense.
Others would have to be willing to pitch in if it's a considerable cost.
Anyway, one way or another, I'm looking forward to learning more about this case.


#25    regeneratia

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 07:56 PM

All I know is that several years afer this, I worked in a girl scout camp as a counselor, and security was still not up to par. While they did lock the gate at the entrance every night, there wasn't much else they would do, as far as I know. But because of this, it was discussed among camp counselors. We made plans of how to react and the roles each would play to stop this type of crime should something like this occur. Some secretly had guns in the camp. We institutted a buddy system with the girls while they were moving around ini camp, with clusters of three or more girls.

I am sure the land owners surrounding the were assessed as well.

Truth is such a rare quality, a stranger so seldom met in this civilization of fraud, that it is never received freely, but must fight its way into the world
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(quote from THE BIBLE FRAUD)

Robert Heinlein: SECRECY IS THE HALLMARK OF TYRANNY!

#26    HollyDolly

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 08:08 PM

Never heard of this case before.I need to look at those websites, but the whole thing is odd.Why open th ecamp if you had burgularies and death threats?
When the girls talked about some strange man running around, they should have rounded up the girls and  brought everyone into a dining hall or some sort of meeting hall were all the girls were together with the counselors. Wonder if the killer was maybe someone who worked at the camp, like a care taker maybe.


#27    Taun

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 08:21 PM

View PostHollyDolly, on 20 September 2012 - 08:08 PM, said:

Never heard of this case before.I need to look at those websites, but the whole thing is odd.Why open th ecamp if you had burgularies and death threats?
When the girls talked about some strange man running around, they should have rounded up the girls and  brought everyone into a dining hall or some sort of meeting hall were all the girls were together with the counselors. Wonder if the killer was maybe someone who worked at the camp, like a care taker maybe.

The death threat that was received (a couple months earlier) was considered a hoax as it mentioned martians several times... And the girls apparently didn't mention the strange man until the following morning when questioned by the police (at least that is the time line I as I understand it from the book)...

The care taker - a state park ranger (apparently) was questioned and released almost immediately - apparently he had a solid alibi...


edit: I posted this before reading regi's comment (#24) so I'm also not sure of the validity of the death threat...

Edited by Taun, 20 September 2012 - 08:28 PM.


#28    ThisiswhatIthink

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 09:57 PM

Very interesting case, and a big thanks to you Taun for diligently digging and learning and sharing different points of this case with us. I did get somewhat confused on the time line of events, but maybe the 'mysterious noise' they heard (fog horn, frog or snoring) was the little girls being bludgeoned to death. The human body can make very vulgar and upsetting noises when in an extreme state of trauma.


#29    regi

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 03:02 PM

Holy cow! I had no idea of the level (and levels) of controversy regarding this case.
Where does one start?

There's a documentary on YouTube called Someone Cry For The Children, and after viewing it, I see clearly why such controversy exists.
I'm troubled by the way the doc presented the facts of the events, and for that reason, I question the credibility of the evidence.
Also, it's not what I'd consider comprehensive, or thoughtful because facts are stated without explanation...in other words, without clarification or support.

The narration told of a dim light seen by "a counselor" in an area in the woods where no one should have been, and that the counselor had shown her own flashlight into that direction and that light then went out. The counselor watched and waited and she then saw the light again, and that it was moving northwest in the direction of the Kiowa unit.
The doc goes on to have Carla Wilhite describe the unidentified noise she heard...the one she had gone out to investigate.
What's with that? To me, I'd much rather hear from the person who saw the light, and I'd like to hear an explanation as to why that event wasn't further investigated!
The fact that it apparently wasn't investigated- or reported that night- has me doubting that it even occurred because it defies logic that a witness to that wouldn't- at the very least- call out to try to identify who the heck is out there milling around at night!
Also, Wilhite states in the doc that she woke up Elders to ask her if she'd also heard the odd noise and didn't say whether Elders had or not.

There was no mention of any threatening note received by the camp.

The two OSBI agents who spoke about the discovery site (Michael Wilkerson and Larry Bowles) stated that were three sleeping bags.
(I was under the impression that there were two.)

It was stated that the perp(s) wiped the floor of the tent with mattress covers and towels, and that those were then stuffed into the sleeping bags.

It was stated that several pairs of prescription glasses were taken from tents throughout the camp, yet there was shown only two photos- one pair of glasses, and a photo of a glass case (Wilhite had identified those items as belonging to her), and the photos showed that both were on the ground.
It was stated that purses were taken. I'm aware of only one purse missing. There was no mention of that one purse having been located, or if it was, where it was located.

The way the science was presented bothers me.
I question it when I hear that a hair "matches" because it's a very misleading statement. It could be that the result of the analysis didn't exclude a particular donor, but that result only means that it was consistent- not that it's a "conclusive". Big difference.
It seems that there was testimony from the trial that semen collected from the bodies matched Hart, despite that Hart had undergone a vasectomy. At the conclusion of the doc, it was stated that analysis of specimen collections from Hart's body at autopsy
revealed the vasectomy wasn't successful, which to my knowledge, would be a rare event, but that's what they stated.

And this is crazy. There was testimony in the trial from an ex-jailer (who'd been fired by the sheriff) in which he stated that he remembered seeing those two photos of those women in the sheriff's desk after Hart's escape!
A property receipt signed by Hart disputed that testimony.
Now, at what time would Hart have signed a property release?

I find that the way the families learned of their children's death's is appalling.
Michelle Muse's mother said she was told there was an accident at camp. Her and Michelle's father learned from a TV report how their child had died.
Lori Farmer's father stated that he received a call from the girl scout director that Lori had been found dead. He stated that he was the third person she had called; that she first called an insurance company, and an attorney.


More later.


#30    Taun

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 04:34 PM

That's the same kind of stuff I'm finding in the book "Tent Number Eight" ... quite a bit of what he writes seems contradictory... but it may just be his annoying style of writting... "TN8" seems to be little more than an attack on the sherriff. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve it - just seems as though the author could have simply presented the facts, and then drawn a conculsion - rather than try to beat the reader over the head with his conculsion in every other paragraph...


The author seems to be implying that it was a vast conspiracy to pin this on Hart - from the Sherriff all the way up to the Governor and the FBI - The fact that Hart had escaped from custody on a previous kidnapping and rape conviction is just totally glossesd over as if it didn't matter...

It seems as though this case was lost by the prosecutors rather than won by the defense - much like the OJ case...

This book has me so confused now that I'm going to have to read it very slowly - to make sense of it and think about it a while... I'm still leaning toward Hart being (at the very least) the most likely suspect, but I'm really amazed at the very badly conducted investigation...

One part of the book was rather humerous (considering my dislike of the media)...  Several newspaper reporters had hounded the sherriff to let them loose at the crime scene - while the investigation was on going - finally he relented and sent them to a nearby area (which may not have even been very close to the scene) then laughed at them when they came back covered in hundreds of ticks...

As for your question about the sleeping bags - the bottom photo I attached above sort of shows what might be three... The thing that confused us I guess was the statement that two of the girls were found inside sleeping bags... the third was just not mentioned...

About his vasectomy - remember that it was in the mid seventies...  They were actually fairly new at that time and I have read that it wasn't unheard of for one to not be effective... (no link to that - sorry just going by memory)

Yes, it was appaling the way the families were informed... It was inexcusable for the Girl Scout District to first call their insurance and attorney rather than much, much more important people - like the families...

An OKC television station (I think it was TV - might have been radio) broke the news very early on and identified the Girl Scout Troop and the camp but mentioned no names at first - so of course EVERY family (there were 100 girls in that troop) rushed to the scene and tried to find out what had happened... Eventually the girls were released to their familes after being interviewed - and for most families that was how they found out their daughters were safe...  Absolutely horrid way to do it...

This case should be used in schools to teach how NOT TO conduct a murder investigation, and how the press should NOT act...

edit to add: interesting note in the book - one of Harts first defense lawyers (who volunteered to help him) resigned after interviewing him... Later he wrote that he quit because he became convinced that Hart had done it and showed no remorse...

Edited by Taun, 21 September 2012 - 04:40 PM.





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