Kristin Chenoweth, 53, shared how she escaped being a 1977 Girl Scout murder victim and what she’s doing to honor the victims.
In the trailer for “Keeper of the Ashes: The Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders,” Chenoweth recounted how she was supposed to attend the camp where three young Girl Scouts were raped and murdered.
“This is a story I wish I never had to tell. It haunts me every day. But this story, it needs to be told.”
“I remember I should have been on that trip, but I had gotten sick, and mom said, ‘You can’t go,’” Chenoweth explained. “It stuck with me my whole life. I could have been one of them.”
Forty-five years later, the renowned Broadway star returned home to Oklahoma to help find answers and close the unsolved case.
“When I think of those three girls, I wonder what’s the best way to honor them,” Chenoweth said. “That’s why I’d come back home, to find answers once and for all.”
On June 12, 1977, 8-year-old Lori Lee Farmer, 9-year-old Michelle Guse and 10-year-old Denise Milner were raped and murdered while staying at Camp Scott with the Girl Scouts. Local jail escapee Gene Leroy Hart, who has been described by police as a textbook serial rapist, was arrested and tried in connection to the case but was acquitted in 1979. He died while imprisoned behind bars for another crime two months later.
As the case remained unsolved, hundreds of conspiracy theories popped up but the grieving families of the three murdered elementary school girls wanted real answers and justice. The recent updates on the cold case are chronicled in the upcoming ABC News docuseries “Keeper of the Ashes,” which is set to be released on Hulu on May 24.
The four-part docuseries also features interviews with Sheriff Mike Reed, Hart’s counsel, a camp counselor and the victims’ families.
Lori Lee FarmerAP
Nine years ago, the parents of Farmer contacted Reed, who remembers being a boy when the murders happened in his hometown. The determined parents asked the sheriff to revisit the case hoping to find the true killer with updates in technology, such as DNA evidence.
Retested evidence has led investigators to say that Gene Leroy Hart killed the three young girls at Camp Scott in 1977. AP
“It’s a journey I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It’s shocking. It’s different than a death. It’s different than a loss because our daughter was murdered,” said Farmer’s mother Sheri told KOTV.
The local police raised the case to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the community fund-raised $30,000 to retest the evidence for DNA.
After years of uncertainty, the results were released by the Mayes County Sheriff’s Office with all investigators and evidence pointing back to Hart.
“There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever, Gene Hart is the person who committed these crimes,” Reed told KOTV.