It was Monday the 13th , 1977. In the early morning hours, at least between 1 and 3 a.m., three young girl scouts were somehow murdered in their tent in the Kiowa campsite at Camp Scott, Oklahoma. Two were killed in the tent, apparently, and the third was dragged away and killed near the fork in the path to the camp. No one in the camp of 8 tents heard anything, including the counselors.
I’m not going to go into details here. But I do wish to raise a few points. The mystery is well known. There’s been lots of excuses for how it could have been done silently, but none of them really answer the details of the scene of the crime. A renegade Cherokee, Gene Hart, was eventually tried and acquitted of these crimes, much to the rejoicing of the people around these parts of Oklahoma where he had been a football star. Opinion is still divided today on whether Hart really did it or not.
Let’s introduce the “note” here. Yes, the note. After the horrifying events of the morning of June 13, 1977, rumor began to spread that a girl scout, 15 year old Michelle Hoffman, had found a note the April before while she was out with her cadre. The note had been intentionally placed in some donut or cookie boxes they had at their camp, or some such thing. Anyway, it was placed where it would be found. The scribbled note warned that 4 girl scouts would be killed. The girls took it as a bad joke.
However, after the murders took place in June it was taken as having been a sinister forewarning by the killer. Sadly, the note hadn’t been kept. It was up to Michelle Hoffman’s memory and those of the girls with her. It was serious enough though that Barbara Day, the superintendent of the camp, got a call from Michelle’s mother. She confirmed that the note had been found.
In the pretrial of Gene Hart, the note comes up a few times. The first is in relation to Barbara Day’s recollection. The defense attorney asks her about the note speaking of 4 girl scouts are to be killed. Day confirms she only heard of this in August, two months after the murders, and it was confirmed by Michelle’s mother. What is important is that in the first and most solid retelling the note is said to have mentioned 4 girl scouts. Legend and rumor later developed and said that eerily the note forewarned doom for 3 girl scouts, the actual number killed. It appears that’s not the case.
It is actually far more sinister that the note mentioned 4 girl scouts. This is the number of girl scouts billeted per tent. In other words, the writer of the note was already implying a murder at night in a tent. Thus if true, the act was premeditated by at least 3 months.
Even if the note had been taken seriously when Michelle found it, there was little reason to see into it that a late night murder in an isolated tent was the object of the writer. Yet after-the-fact it seems all too clear, especially when the actual number of 4 girls is restored to the retelling.
Why would Gene Hart need to do this? What would be the point in warning about killing girl scouts months before it happens? But Hart’s motive has been chalked up to the fact that he was an escapee from prison on a rape charge. (The three girls had been raped before being murdered.) Gene Hart was believed to have a hideout in the surrounding hills. Yet if true, why forewarn of this by months in advance?
The reason why only three girls were killed was the fact that due to a mistake 1 girl had been assigned to another tent in another unit. Thus the most isolated tent in Camp Kiowa that night only had three girls. How was a single individual planning to keep 4 girls quiet, and how did he eventually succeed in keeping 3 girls quiet?
I doubt much logistical reworking of this case will be made. Gene Hart is still blamed for the murders today, and there seems little interest in reimagining what the preceding chain of events required in order to carry this out. In future, however, we will have to look at a few of these here.
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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.