On June 13, 1977, counselors at a Girl Scout Camp near Locust Grove, Oklahoma woke up to a grisly discovery. Lori Lee Farmer, age 8, Doris Denise Milner, 10, and Michelle Guse, 9, were found murdered in a field just outside the campground.
One of the most intensive manhunts in the history of Oklahoma ensued. Twenty-one of the thirty-six agents employed by the OSBI at the time were initially assigned full-time to catching the killer.
The focus of the manhunt quickly ventured on Gene Leroy Hart, a thirty-six year old Native American born in the area. Hart had escaped from jail on September 16, 1973. He had avoided capture for more than four years. He was very familiar with the hills of northeastern Oklahoma and knew how to live off the land indefinitely. Despite over two million dollars expended in the search, Hart evaded capture for over ten months. On April 16, 1978, a contingent of OSBI agents acting on information provided by an informant, captured Hart in a small house in a heavily wooded area in Adair County.
The evidence against Hart was extensive. Tape used to bind the victims, along with other physical evidence tying Hart to the scene of the crime was located in a nearby cave. Items from the campsite were found in the house where Hart was captured. An analysis of physical evidence, including sperm samples and other body fluids, revealed that only .0020% of the population met the unique characteristics contained in that evidence-including Hart.
Despite this evidence, the local jury acquitted Hart. Three months later, Hart collapsed and died while serving prison time for his prior convictions. An autopsy revealed that Hart had died of a massive heart attack.