The family of a murdered Oklahoma Girl Scout whose cold-case has left investigators stumped for decades is skeptical of a new film being made about the violent killing of the young girl, but they hope it will ultimately lead to finding the culprit.
Lori Lee Farmer and two other female campers were brutally killed more than 30 years ago at Camp Scott Girl Scout camp on their first night at sleepaway camp.
“I believe there is another way to get to the killer than a movie and I told the filmmaker I hoped he would explore those things and I would prefer a movie not be made,” Sheri Farmer, the mother of Lori Lee Farmer, told FoxNews.com exclusively. “But my husband and I are very interested in finding out the truth of what happened. I do not think we have the whole answer and somebody out there knows it. If there is someone involved who is not in prison they need to be and this movie could help,” she says.
The independent film, titled “Candles," is being brought to the screen by an ex-con named John Russell who currently lives in Kansas City, Mo. Russell, who served time in prison for check fraud, says he will dramatize the initial crime and show evidence he claims will reveal the killer.
The triple homicide at Camp Scott in rural Oklahoma outside of Tulsa remains one of the most ghastly cases in the state’s history. In 1977 three young Girl Scouts -- Farmer, 8, Michelle Guse, 9, and Doris Denise Milner, 10 -- all occupants of tent No. 8, were raped, bludgeoned and strangled on their first night at summer camp.
Their bodies were left in the woods, bound in rope within their sleeping bags, and discovered by a camp counselor the next morning. In 1979, police arrested Gene Leroy Hart, a local prison escapee with a history of violence. He stood trial for the crime and was acquitted, later dying in prison, where he was serving time on unrelated charges. In 2007, authorities conducted new DNA testing, but the results proved inconclusive due to deteriorated crime scene evidence.
Russell claims that he encountered the real murderer while he was in prison in 1978. His criminal background, the Farmer family believes, may be an asset in solving this cold case.
“We are well aware that Mr. Russell has a criminal past. However, his explanation that ‘he would not know the things he knows if he hadn’t lived the life he lived’ carries a bit of weight to it,” Joli Beasley, the sister of Lori Lee Farmer told FoxNews.com.
"This is not to say that we are in full support of him, but there is a kernel of truth to the idea that the person who committed these murders, or someone with first-hand knowledge of it, might cross paths with other shady people, whether by choice or forced upon them by spending time in prison together. So if an ex-con says he has information, it is a tricky thing that definitely warrants skepticism, but not necessarily an immediate and absolute reason to throw the baby out with the bath water,” Beasley says.
Sheri Farmer tells FoxNews.com that over the years she and her family have been inundated with tips from people who believe they have some idea what happened to their daughter.
“They’re all different, but one day, one of them will be the truth and that’s why my husband and I are always open to hearing what anyone says. That’s what we are waiting for now,” Farmer says.
Russell is not keeping his information close to his vest. He has told the Farmer family what he knows as well as the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
On Thursday OSBI public information officer Jessica Brown told FoxNews.com that “We have the information and we are working on it right now. This is a lead like any other lead we have gotten over the 30 plus years and we are going to run it out the best we can and go from there."
Lori Lee Farmer’s family hopes this lead will be the last.
“It is my understanding that Mr. Russell has chosen a movie as the vehicle to get his information out because he feels that his attempts to tell authorities have been ignored. I can’t speak to the truth of whether law enforcement officials have thoroughly investigated his claims or not, but perhaps the publicity of a movie, whether true or not, will prompt others to speak up and tell what they know,” Joli Beasley says.