Kristin Chenoweth, 53, shared how she escaped the 1977 Girl Scout murder victim and what she is doing to honor the victims.
In the trailer for Keeper of the Ashes: The Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders, Chenoweth opened up about visiting the camp where three young Girl Scouts were raped and murdered.
“It’s a story I wish I never had to tell. It haunts me every day. But this story must 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. “That has been with me my whole life. I could have been one of them.”
45 years later, the renowned Broadway star returned to Oklahoma to find answers and close the unsolved case.
“When I think of these three girls, I wonder how best to honor them,” Chenoweth said. “So I would return 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 with the Girl Scouts at Camp Scott. Local prison escapee Gene Leroy Hart, described by police as a textbook serial rapist, was arrested and tried in connection with the case, but was acquitted in 1979. He died two months later while behind bars for another crime.
As the case remained unsolved, hundreds of conspiracy theories surfaced, but the grieving families of the three murdered elementary school girls wanted real answers and justice. The latest updates on the cold case will be chronicled in the upcoming ABC News documentary, Keeper of the Ashes, due out May 24 on Hulu.
The four-part documentary also includes interviews with Sheriff Mike Reed, Hart’s attorney, a camp counselor and the families of the victims.
Nine years ago, Farmer’s parents contacted Reed, who recalls being a boy when the murders happened in his hometown. The determined parents asked the sheriff to re-examine the case, hoping to find the real killer using advances in technology like DNA evidence.
“It’s a journey I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It is shocking. It’s different than death. It’s different than a loss because our daughter was murdered,” Farmer’s mother, Sheri, told KOTV.
Local police brought the case to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the community 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 that Gene Hart is the person who committed these crimes,” Reed told KOTV.