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Girl Scout Murders

Sometime during the night of June 12-13, 1977, an unknown assailant(s) attacked three beloved young Girl Scouts on an outing at that organization’s Camp Scott, two miles south of Locust Grove and about fifty miles east of Tulsa. The unspeakable treatment of eight-year-old Lori Farmer, nine-year-old Michelle Guse, and 10-year-old Denise Milner was a tragedy like few in Oklahoma history. Local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies hurtled into action.

Suspicion and circumstantial evidence quickly centered on previously-convicted rapist and escaped convict Gene Leroy Hart. The Cherokee full-blood, a Locust Grove high school football standout in the early 1960s, had confessed in 1966 to kidnapping and raping two pregnant Tulsa women. He served a curiously light sentence of only 28 months for those crimes.

Caught burglarizing a residence in 1969, less than three months after his release on parole, he was convicted for a total of four burglaries. This triggered a contrasting sentencing extreme—more than 300 years in the maximum security Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Another curious decision transferred this hardened criminal from the state’s most secure prison to the Mayes County jail in Pryor, 25 miles northwest of Camp Scott, population 7,000. He twice escaped, most recently four years before. At the time of the murders, he remained on the loose at the time of what history remembers as the Girl Scout Murders.

Emotions spiraled. Added to the unprecedented, stupefied horror not only of anyone remotely connected to the victimized families and scouting, but virtually the entire state, was a seething anger and fear roiling up among many Natives in the old Cherokee country where Camp Scott lay. As Vol. 1 of this work, and various chapters in this volume, revealed, whites and Indians shared a history that had often been dark.

American pioneers shared bloody history with the Cherokees dating to the early 1700s. The defeated tribe became a staunch U.S. ally, but the later Indian removal, Trail of Tears, War Between the States, Reconstruction, allotment, and grafting had all tortured the checkered relations.

Now, many Cherokees, particularly full bloods who generally had not assimilated into the larger American society as happily, fully, or successfully as their mixed blood kin, suspected roughhewn Mayes County “cowboy” Sheriff Pete Weaver of leading an ego and race-motivated vigilante effort against an innocent Gene Hart. The latter had, after all, escaped from Weaver’s jail, and not once, but twice. Weaver knew he was the butt of many jokes related t