June 13 is a date Catoosa resident Angela Sweet is reminded of still following the murder of three Girl Scouts 40 years ago today.
The bodies of Doris Milner, age 10; Lori Farmer, age 8; and Michelle Guse, age 9 were found murdered around 6 a.m. on June 13, 1977 at Camp Scott located about three miles southeast of Locust Grove in Mayes County.
Sweet questions a lot about that time when she was attending as a Girl Scout herself, wondering why she was spared.
There was a lot of excitement among the girls to go camping and hanging out with the girls in their troop.
“But as soon as I got there, the camp director told me I was not going to be able to sleep in the same tent as my own troop because there were too many of us and only four would fit,” Sweet said.
This saddened Sweet, then a 10-year-old little girl.
The director led her to another tent, which was quite a ways from her own tent, who had room for a fourth girl since one Girl Scout could not make the trip.
“I stayed there with the three girls. I talked with them one-on-one and even put my stuff up in their tent. We sat around the campfire talking and getting to know one another. “
At that point, Sweet was getting pretty excited because she made new friends. But, as soon as her friendship took off with the three, the director later told Sweet the girls in her troop were able to squeeze her in to their tent.
“We all got settled in. One of the girls needed to go to the latrine, so we all got up to go together. You know how girls play jokes on one another? We were on our way to the latrine and on our way down there, we noticed three flashlights that had come toward us so we all screamed. The flashlights disappeared.”
That remains a mystery to her since they could not see who it was or where they went.
They ran back to their tent to get settled again. One of the girl scouts from another troop went outside of her troop’s tent and made herself look like a bear with claws, running her hands down the tent. “We got scared and went to the camp counselors telling them we wanted to go home. But, we were told everything is okay and to go back to the tent and we could call our parents in the morning if we wanted to.”
About that time, it began to thunder, she added, as they went back to the tent. The next morning, the girls went to breakfast and were told they were going back to the tent to pack up their belongings.
“They told us something was wrong with the camp water and we were going to go back early. We were pretty bummed.“
Once back, the camp director told them to get on the buses, which took them back to Tulsa. “We were told, 'As soon as you hear your name, exit the bus quickly.'”
She said parents and media were waiting on the buses when they got to Tulsa. Sweet had no idea what had happened to the girls. “My understanding is that the parents were not told who the deceased girls were either. One by one, they announced the names,” she said.
While getting ready to exit the bus after Sweet’s name was called, she had dropped something and bent down to pick it up. “Apparently, they said my name like three times. I stood up, looked out the window and saw my mom on her knees crying. I could not figure out why she was crying. As soon as I stepped off of the bus, she ran over and hugged me.”
That photo ran on the front page of Tulsa World, she said.
On the ride home, she asked her mom what was going on, but her mother told her to wait until they got home.
Later, her parents sat her down informing her on what had happened. “I was pretty shook up but did not know who the girls were at that time that were killed,” she said.
The next day, Sweet picked up the newspaper and saw the pictures of the three girls. “I told my mom those were the girls I was going to spend the night with and three or four hours later I got moved to my troop's tent. My mother began crying all over again.”
Sweet said nearly a week later she spoke to investigators answering their questions.
She told investigators she remembered a box of donuts that were oddly placed outside of their tent prior to her getting moved and no one knew where they came from. One of the little girls who was murdered told Sweet she did not know where the donuts came from and thought that they came from one of the other girls.
As time went by, Sweet was plagued with nightmares of girls screaming. “I could not figure out why I was having those dreams.”
Her mother found a movie that was released called, “Someone Cry for the Children," a movie about the unsolved murders of the three Girl Scouts.
Sweet did not immediately watch the movie, but when she did, memories flooded her mind. “All of these thoughts went through my mind. Why was I saved? What if I could have saved those girls? What if I would have went to bed in their tent that evening? Would I be dead right now?”
Following the movie, Sweet began counseling to help her cope and has since stopped having nightmares.
Although the dreams with all of the screaming have gone away, “I still wonder why I was saved?”