Is Gene Leroy Hart Still Alive? Where Is He Now?

On 24th May 2022, Hulu will release a four-part docuseries titled Keeper of the Ashes: The Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders, exploring the tragic murders of Lori Lee Farmer, Michele Heather Guse, and Doris Denise Milner during a June 1977 Girl Scout trip to Camp Scott. 

The series takes another look at the evidence using new technology in an attempt to solve the crime. In the trailer, Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth reveals that she remains haunted by the murders as she was supposed to attend that trip. 

“I remember I should have been on that trip,” Chenoweth says, “but I had gotten sick, and my mom said, ‘You can’t go.’ It stuck with me my whole life. I could have been one of them.”

Gene Leroy Hart died in prison due to a massive heart attack 

Gene Leroy Hart was arrested in mid-April 1978 following a 10-month manhunt. He’d escaped from prison and was the prime suspect in the murders of Lori, Michele, and Doris. 

Leroy pleaded not guilty, but investigators were confident about getting a conviction given the ‘extensive’ evidence they’d collected against him. 

The state alleged that semen and hair samples found on the bodies matched Gene Leroy. An expert testified that ‘only .0020% of the population met the unique characteristics contained in the evidence, including Hart.’

Hart’s attorney’s countered by saying that prosecutors planted evidence to frame an innocent man. They provided an alternative suspect: Kansas convict William Stevens, who was incarcerated for rape and kidnapping. 

Ten days later, which was way earlier than people expected, the jury delivered their verdict: not guilty. The verdict shocked Green County and the nation. 

Leroy wasn’t to be set free, however, as he had over 300 years left on his previous conviction. Gene Leroy Hart died of a massive heart attack in June 1979, two months after his acquittal. 

Mayes County Sheriff Mike Reed is convinced that Gene Leroy committed the murders 

Mayes County Sheriff Mike Reed took another look at the murders following the families’ request in 2012. After an in-depth analysis of the evidence, he concluded that Gene Leroy Hart committed the crimes. 

“Unless something new comes up, something brought to light we are not aware of, I am convinced where I’m sitting of Hart’s guilt and involvement in this case,” Sheriff Reed said

The DNA tests conducted are officially inconclusive, but there’s no doubt in Sheriff Reed’s mind that he’s identified the killer. Reed told Tulsa World that the results came out in 2019, but the families requested they remain secret. 

Sheriff Reed’s investigation will feature in the upcoming Hulu documentary about the case. He stated that recent evidentiary examination not only points to Gene Leroy as the culprit but also rules out after suspects. 

“There’s no suspect attached to this case that has not been excluded in one way or another, whether it’s DNA, whether it’s alibi, whether it’s polygraph test, whatever,” Sheriff Reed said. 

Despite the Sheriff’s findings, he declared that the case hadn’t been closed. He wrote on Facebook:

“The case will not be closed unilaterally by any one investigative agency and will only be closed when and if the families, OSBI, The Sheriff’s Office, and the District Attorney’s office all agree to do so. That decision will be a united decision by all involved.”

Gene Leroy Hart was a promising football player before he turned to crime 

Gene Leroy Hart, of Cherokee Indian descent, was raised by his mother. He was a talented football player expected to carve out a decent future in the sport. 

However, in 1966, Leroy kidnapped two pregnant women outside a Tulsa nightclub. He drove around with them, taking turns to rape and sodomize them. 

Hart pleaded guilty to kidnapping, rape, and sodomy, earning three 10-year prison sentences to be served concurrently. Leroy spent a little over two years in prison before being paroled. 

Leroy violated his parole by conducting a series of burglaries. Police arrested him for stealing from the home of a Tulsa police officer and found evidence of other burglaries in his vehicle. 

The court sentenced Hart to nearly 350 years in prison, but he didn’t intend to stay locked up: he escaped after a hearing at Mayes County Court, but authorities recaptured him and sent him to Mayes County Jail.

Hart escaped again in September 1973 and was apprehended for the final time in April 1978, about 45 miles from Camp Scott. 

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