Writer/director John Russell directs actress Nicole Fancher during the filming of the “Candles” movie trailer near Locust Grove, Okla. Fancher played the double for Megan Ellis, who is playing the lead character Patricia Evans. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Director names alleged Girl Scouts killer in movie

The cover art for the “Candles” movie, which is about the Girl Scout murders near Locust Grove, Okla., in 1977. COURTESY PHOTO Karl Lee Myers OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
The cover art for the “Candles” movie, which is about the Girl Scout murders near Locust Grove, Okla., in 1977. COURTESY PHOTO
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
12/15/2011 07:28 AM
LOCUST GROVE, Okla. – The writer and director of the upcoming movie “Candles” said that convicted murderer Karl Lee Myers is the killer of the three Girl Scouts who were raped and murdered at Camp Scott in 1977.

John Russell said that Myers confessed to him about the murders of Lori Lee Farmer, 8; Michelle Guse, 9; and Denise Milner, 10, who were found dead June 13, 1977, at the camp near Locust Grove, Okla.

Gene Leroy Hart, a Cherokee man from the Locust Grove area, was charged with killing the girls but was acquitted of the crimes in 1979. He died in prison of an apparent heart attack three months later while serving an unrelated sentence.

Russell said Myers confessed to him about the murders while each served time in the Ottawa County Jail in 1979.

“He confessed three times to six murders in the northeast Oklahoma area. He also confessed once to the Camp Scott murders,” Russell said.

The movie “Candles” is about the Girl Scout murders, and in it Russell said he would name Myers as the murderer. He said he also plans to name local and state officials from that time period who he believes were complicit in covering Myers’ involvement with the murders.

Myers is currently serving a first-degree murder conviction on death row in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. In 1998, he was convicted of murder in Rogers County and sentenced to death. Myers has also been convicted of burglary in 1969 and for assault with intent to commit rape in 1979.

Russell said he has attempted to give his information to authorities regarding Myers’ alleged confession of the Girl Scout murders, but has not been successful. He added that he felt making a film was his only avenue of getting out the information.

A Tulsa media outlet recently interviewed a family member of one of the murdered Girl Scouts. The family member preferred to remain anonymous, but said she didn’t disagree with the movie being made, but wished someone with more credibility was making it.

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation officials said John Russell is someone the bureau has communicated with regarding the Camp Scott murders. But with regards to his credibility, they said they get “many, many tips on cases, many of which are not credible.”

“But we will not say which are credible and which are not credible tips, sources,” Jessica Brown, OSBI public information officer, said.

Russell does have a criminal record, which consists of passing bogus checks, embezzlement and defrauding an innkeeper.

Russell said he isn’t proud of his past, but added that if it were not for his background he would not have the knowledge he does about the Camp Scott murders.

The OSBI would also not comment about the possibility of Myers being a suspect.

“Legally, all I can say is that the murders at Camp Scott are still under investigation,” Brown said.
The Cherokee Phoenix requested an interview with Myers through the Oklahoma Department of Corrections but was denied.

Russell said that he’s been told that Myers’ health was failing and that he probably wouldn’t see an execution date.

“If he dies, then we won’t be able to get his confession of the three Girl Scouts or any of the numerous others that he has killed in the past. Then it’s just my word that he confessed. His death protects the reputation of the OSBI and the state of Oklahoma from future prosecution of those involved,” Russell said.

He said his movie would still be filmed but that he would just have to be more creative in filming without a Myers interview. “I have to use my creative abilities instead of using an interview, and I fully expected to be denied the interview with Myers.”

Russell said Cherokee actor Wes Studi has sent a letter of intent to play the part of Gray Hawk, a medicine man.

jami-custer@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560


About the Author
Reporter

Jami Murphy graduated from Locust Grove High School in 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2006 from Northeastern State University and began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2007.

She said the Cherokee Phoenix has allowed her the opportunity to share valuable information with the Cherokee people on a daily basis. 

Jami married Michael Murphy in 2014. They have two sons, Caden and Austin. Together they have four children, including Johnny and Chase. They also have two grandchildren, Bentley and Baylea. 

She is a Cherokee Nation citizen and said working for the Cherokee Phoenix has meant a great deal to her. 

“My great-great-great-great grandfather, John Leaf Springston, worked for the paper long ago. It’s like coming full circle. I’ve learned so much about myself, the Cherokee people and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Jami is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. You can follow her on Twitter @jamilynnmurphy or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jamimurphy2014.
jami-murphy@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560
Reporter Jami Murphy graduated from Locust Grove High School in 2000. She received her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2006 from Northeastern State University and began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2007. She said the Cherokee Phoenix has allowed her the opportunity to share valuable information with the Cherokee people on a daily basis. Jami married Michael Murphy in 2014. They have two sons, Caden and Austin. Together they have four children, including Johnny and Chase. They also have two grandchildren, Bentley and Baylea. She is a Cherokee Nation citizen and said working for the Cherokee Phoenix has meant a great deal to her. “My great-great-great-great grandfather, John Leaf Springston, worked for the paper long ago. It’s like coming full circle. I’ve learned so much about myself, the Cherokee people and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.” Jami is a member of the Native American Journalists Association, and Investigative Reporters and Editors. You can follow her on Twitter @jamilynnmurphy or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jamimurphy2014.

News

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
07/31/2015 04:00 PM
BRIDGETON, N.J. (AP) – A Native American group is suing New Jersey officials to demand it be recognized by the state government. The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation filed a federal civil rights suit on July 20 saying that not having recognition hurts its members psychologically and financially. The group, which is based in Bridgeton, traces its history in the area back 12,000 years and says it now has 3,000 members - the majority of them living in the state. New Jersey made the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape its third recognized tribe with a legislative resolution in 1982. But the group says that’s now at risk because of a report the state submitted to the federal government in 2012 that said New Jersey had not recognized tribes – a change that could also affect the Powhatan-Renape Nation and the Ramapough Mountain Indians, which also had been designated by the state. Gregory Werkheiser, a lawyer for the group, said some state officials became nervous more than a decade ago about the possibility of recognized tribes trying to develop casinos. But Werkheiser said the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Nation has no interest in that, a position spelled out in the group’s constitution. And even if it did, he said, it would take federal recognition – awhich can take decades to secure - for that to happen. The state status is important to the group because, without recognition, it says, its members cannot sell crafts including beadwork, walking sticks, drums, headdresses, regalia, and pottery as “Indian made,” an issue that could cost more than $250,000 a year. Werkheiser said the group’s artisans – many of them senior citizens – have already seen their income take a major hit from that. And the group says it could lose $600,000 in grants, tribal jobs and scholarships that are tied to its designation as a recognized tribe. “State recognition of a tribe has little to no impact on a state budget, except that it may provide tribes access to certain federal benefits that save the state from spending its own dollars,” the group contends in the suit. The state government has not responded to the claims in court. The state Assembly passed a bill in 2011 on procedures for recognizing tribes, but the measure never received a vote in the Senate. A spokesman for John Hoffman, the state acting attorney general, did not immediately return an email seeking comment. The office generally does not talk with reporters about lawsuits it faces.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/31/2015 02:00 PM
NEW YORK – After a dozen of Native American actors felt insulted and walked off the set of Adam Sandler’s “The Ridiculous Six” in April, the movie actor recently told the Associated Press the movie is a “pro-Indian” movie. “I talked to some of the actors on the set who were there and let them know that the intention of the movie is 100 percent to just make a funny movie,” Sandler said. “It’s really about American Indians being good to my character and about their family and just being good people. There’s no mocking of American Indians at all in the movie. It’s a pro-Indian movie. So hopefully when people see it — whoever was offended on set and walked out, I hope they realize that, and that’s it. It was kind of taken out of context.” “The Ridiculous Six,” which is scheduled to be released worldwide via Netflex in December, is Sandler’s first production for a multi-move deal he signed with movie-giant Netflix. “The Ridiculous Six” is intended to be a parody to the 1960 “The Magnificent Seven” Hollywood-western. While the Native actors walked off the set, many other Native American actors did stay and continued to work on the production. The actors who walked off the set said they were upset with the demeaning portrayal of Native women and how the movie producers were insensitive to tribal usage of feathers. “At first I was glad to be part of the movie because it is about Apaches, who are like cousins to us, but then I noticed things were not right about how Apaches were depicted,” said Loren Anthony, Navajo. “For one thing, the costumes we were given to wear were more like what plains Indians wear, not Apache. Then the way feathers were desecrated on the set made me sick to the stomach, literally. I was brought up by my elders to respect feathers. The move crew paid no respect to the feathers.” Back in April, Netflex said, “the movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous. It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of but in on the joke.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/31/2015 08:00 AM
In this month's issue: • At-Large CN car tag sales gross $1.2M • Warner, Pearson, Hatfield win Tribal Council seats • Court tosses Smith’s election appeal • Cherokee Phoenix wins NAJA, OPA, SPJ awards ...plus much more. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9489_2015-08-01.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the August 2015 issue of the Cherokee Phoenix. <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2015/7/9489_HolidayGuide2015.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view</a>the 2015 Cherokee National Holiday guide.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/30/2015 04:00 PM
LOS ANGELES – Native Voices is seeking short plays that address the many ways a Native American family forms and functions. Native Voices at the Autry is the only Equity theater company devoted exclusively to developing and producing new works for the stage by Native American, Alaska Native and First Nations playwrights. Plays may be a celebration of family life or an examination of complexities and issues in Native families. Alternately, plays may dramatize traditional family stories or family histories. A reading panel of nationally recognized theater artists and community members will evaluate short plays that are related to the family theme. Selected plays will be presented as staged readings on Nov. 8, as part of the Autry’s annual American Indian Arts Marketplace. A panel of celebrity judges will select the 2015 Von Marie Atchley Award for Excellence in Playwriting, a $1,000 cash prize. For more information and submission details, visit <a href="http://www.TheAutry.org/NativeVoices" target="_blank">TheAutry.org/NativeVoices</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/30/2015 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –The Dream Theatre 312 N. Muskogee Ave., will host the Tribal Film Festival on Sept. 4-5. Film festival officials are calling for “indigenous films with inspiring and uplifting stories that change people’s lives.” The films must be indigenous stories, but filmmakers do not have to be of tribal backgrounds. All videos that are selected will be shown at the red carpet premiere event at the Dream Theatre and the ‘best of’ prizes will also be announced at the event. The winning submissions will also be featured on the TFF’s Facebook page, Twitter newsfeed and in the TFF’s trailer reel, which will play at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill during the 2015 Cherokee National Holiday. According to the TFF’s website, each submission will be eligible for distribution on TribalTV, which is a new broadband channel. Those who are submitting their work must own the content or have the rights to submit the film. Films that contain pornography or ultra-violent material will not be considered. Short films must be less than 20 minutes, which includes the credits. Films that are more that 20 minutes will be entered into the feature film category. The official submission deadline is July 29 with a $20 entry fee. The late submission deadline is Aug. 15 and will cost $30. Digital submissions can be entered at filmfreeway.com and hardcopies can be mailed to P.O. Box 581507 Tulsa, Oklahoma 74158-1507. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.tribalfilmfestival.com" target="_blank">www.tribalfilmfestival.com</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter
07/30/2015 08:00 AM
BRIGGS, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Community and Cultural Outreach has found a way to help CN citizens and local community members learn more about the Cherokee culture with its Cultural Enlightenment Series. The series is held the second Tuesday of each month, and in July it took place at the TRI Community Association W.E.B. Building (Welling, Eldon and Briggs) in Briggs. Those attending watched participants play Cherokee marbles, weave baskets and perform other family and culture-friendly activities. CCO Director Rob Daugherty said this is just one of the many communities his department reaches out to within the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction. “This is one of the buildings that we helped start fund along with other departments of the Cherokee Nation,” he said. “In our jurisdiction area we have several of these building and we work with approximately 38 community buildings that we have. We work with way more communities than that, but this is one of them.” Daugherty, who watched the marble games, said he’s glad the community has taken up the sport. “We’re real proud of this organization here in that they started doing this marbles. (They) picked up one of the old games, and now Cherokee Nation’s coming out here and hosting tournaments,” he said. “The good thing about this game is it doesn’t matter how old you are. It doesn’t matte what size you are. It doesn’t matter what level of skill. This is a game that you’re pretty well even starting out. It looks like it’s a games of just haphazardly movements, but there’s a strategy to this game. They’re playing teams, and you can tell among themselves they’re talking where to move, who to hit, where to sit and so forth.” Daugherty said it is also important to use the Cherokee language in the Cultural Enlightenment Series. “Language is really big in my department, so one of the things that I have suggested is no matter what you do incorporate Cherokee language in there,” he said. John Sellers, TRI Community W.E.B. Association president, said he was glad to have the CN come to the building to show community members Cherokee culture. “We attend classes about once a month at the (Cherokee) Nation’s complex and they saw our facilities and they were talking about the old traditional marble games, and we’ve been asking questions about the rules, how you do it. So they come out here to show us and they said, ‘hey, we’ll just have our regular monthly meeting out here and do that,’” he said. “Then, at the same time we got a call and said they had a lady that wanted to do the basket weaving and I said, ‘bring her on.’” Sellers said he is thankful to the CN for all it has done for the community. “I can’t say enough for Cherokee Nation,” he said. “I mean we couldn’t do what we’re doing if it wasn’t for them.” For more information about the Cultural Enlightenment Series, visit <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CNCCO" target="_blank">www.facebook.com/CNCCO</a>.