http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgWriter/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
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
Former 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


News

BY STAFF REPORTS
08/23/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Casino Tahlequah will host the 14th annual Cherokee National Holiday Car Show from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 3. The all-ages car show is free to the public. At 2 p.m. is when judges will award trophies in nearly 40 categories. “This is always a fun event to host because there is so much excitement about all the great classic cars that overflow our parking lot,” Cherokee Casino Tahlequah General Manager Rod Fourkiller said. “It’s really impressive how good the vehicles are that enter the car show. It makes it a tough decision for the judges, and the car enthusiasts can’t get enough of them. If you love cars, you definitely need to be here that Sunday.” Categories include stock and modified cars and trucks for each decade, beginning pre-1935 through 2000s. Other categories include Camaro, Mustang, Chevelle and Corvette from multiple decades, and motorcycles with categories for pre-1979 and post-1980. In addition to category awards, recognition will be given to Best of Show, Best Paint, Best Interior, Chief’s Choice, Speaker’s Choice, Council’s Choice, Casino’s Choice and the Chamber of Commerce’s Choice. Registration is from 9 – 11 a.m. and costs $20. Members of car clubs who want to park together should arrive together, as parking will be filled as cars arrive. The first 125 entries receive a dash plaque, while every car show participant receives sunglasses, an event shirt and $10 in rewards play. Also, a fireworks show is scheduled for dusk. Cherokee Casino Tahlequah is located 4 miles south of Tahlequah on State Highway 62. For more information call, 918-207-3600 or visit <a href="http://www.CherokeeCasino.com" target="_blank">www.CherokeeCasino.com</a>. To find a complete list of the 65th Cherokee National Holiday events, visit <a href="http://www.Cherokee.org" target="_blank">www.Cherokee.org</a> and click on the Cherokee National Holiday quick link.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/23/2017 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – According to a Cherokee Nation Communications press release, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded the tribe’s Environmental Programs a $300,000 grant to create a national tribal mentoring program that focuses on the development and reporting of water quality assessments. The Environmental Information Exchange Network Grant will provide the CN with $100,000 per year for three years, the release states. It also states that in return CN Environmental Programs staff would help other tribes use an EPA reporting tool called Assessment, Total Maximum Daily Load Tracking and Implementation System or ATTAINS. The online system allows the EPA states, territories, tribes and other partners to submit water quality data using an integrated reporting process, according to the release. “Over the past year, we have been active within our 14 counties and across Indian Country when it comes to the conservation of water,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Now, with this grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, a new door has been opened for our environmental programs. Tribes across the country will have a strong mentor and partner in the Cherokee Nation. Our environmental programs will play a vital role in educational efforts and outreach to tribal water programs.” The release states that CN Environmental Programs staff members will develop a webpage to serve as a resource for tribes that want to learn more about ATTAINS. According to the release, CN workers will also create and coordinate workshops, trainings and meetings taught by the EPA and tribal mentors and publish a newsletter to showcase the ATTAINS reporting tool for tribal water programs. “This is another example of Cherokee Nation serving as a leader in Indian Country,” Secretary of Natural Resources Sara Hill said. “Not only does the Cherokee Nation depend on the technical ability and excellence of our Environmental Programs staff, but tribes across the country depend on them, too. We are looking forward to working with various EPA regional water programs and tribal water staff across the nation.” The Clean Water Act requires states, territories and some tribes to monitor water quality and report to EPA on the waters evaluated through the process known as assessment. CN Environmental Programs can begin working on the project in October, the release states.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/22/2017 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Sequoyah High School senior Danya Pigeon, of Hulbert, on Aug. 19 was crowned the 2017-18 Junior Miss Cherokee during the 26th annual leadership competition at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center. For the next year, Pigeon will act as a goodwill ambassador for the tribe, promoting the government, language, history and traditions of the Cherokee people. Three teens competed for the honor in three categories: a cultural presentation, an impromptu question-and-answer and a speech on their respective platform. Pigeon, 18, earned her crown and sash after giving a special presentation on Sequoyah and the Cherokee syllabary, giving her opinion on connecting citizens inside and outside of the tribal jurisdiction and speaking on her platform, alcohol abuse. “It has been a dream of mine to be Junior Miss Cherokee, and I would like to thank God for giving me this opportunity to serve the Cherokee Nation,” Pigeon said. Pigeon is the daughter of Tammy West and Walter Pigeon. She previously served in the Cherokee National Youth Choir and is a member of the Harvest Time Tabernacle youth group. The Junior Miss Cherokee competition is held each year in conjunction with the Cherokee National Holiday. The 2017-18 Miss Cherokee competition is slated for 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26, at Cornerstone Fellowship Church in Tahlequah.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/21/2017 04:00 PM
The Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board will meet at 10 a.m. on Aug. 31 in the Tribal Services Conference room located at the W. W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah. In Person: 17675 S Muskogee Ave, Tahlequah, OK 74464. Cherokee Nation Tribal Complex, Tribal Services Conference Room Conference Call: 1-866-210-1669 Code: 4183136# Agenda Items: 1. Welcome 2. Roll Call: Board members present 3. Approval of Minutes from last meeting- July 18, 2017 4. Update from Editor 5. Old business 6. New business 7. Set next meeting 8. Public comment 9. Adjourn
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
08/21/2017 03:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation hosted a “Solar Eclipse Watch Party” for its employees and citizens on Aug. 21 at the One Fire Field, west of the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The eclipse began at 11:45 a.m. CST, peaked around 1:10 p.m. and ended about 2:40 p.m. According to NASA’s website, all of North America was able to observe the sun’s eclipse. The totality path, where the moon completely covered the sun and its tenuous atmosphere stretched from Oregon to South Carolina. Observers outside this path, as in the case of the CN, saw a partial eclipse where the moon covered part of the sun. Locally it was estimated at about 90 percent coverage. CN Communications officials handed out 1,000 pairs of NASA-approved solar eclipse viewing glasses to employees and visitors. “A solar eclipse is an extremely rare event. We wanted our employees to witness and enjoy this rare occasion safely,” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. The Burrow family, of San Antonio, was among the many observers at One Fire Field. “We drove to the Cherokee Nation specifically for the solar eclipse,” CN citizen Catherine Burrow said. “We wanted to be here for it.” Throughout the watch party, Cherokee storyteller Robert Lewis shared the Cherokee eclipse story of how a frog once tried to eat the sun. “Cherokees began screaming, yelling and banging on things until they scared the frog away and saved the sun,” he said. Lewis summed up the eclipse philosophically. “It’s important that Cherokees see the eclipse because it reminds us of our place in the universe.” According to Accu-weather.com, those who missed today’s eclipse will have to wait until April 8, 2024, when the moon’s shadow will once again block out the sun across the United States. Next time the path will be more southwest to southeast and spread from Texas to Maine. <strong>Cherokee Take on Eclipses</strong> “When the sun or moon is eclipsed it is because a great frog up in the sky is trying to swallow it. Everybody knows this, even the Creeks and the other tribes, and in the olden times, 80 or 100 years ago, before the great medicine men were all dead, whenever they saw the sun grow dark the people would come together and fire guns and beat the drum, and in a little while this would frighten off the great frog and the sun would be all right again.” – From “The Moon and The Thunderers” on Page 257 of James Mooney’s “History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees”
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
08/21/2017 09:45 AM
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — While much of the country gawks at the solar eclipse, Bobbieann Baldwin will be inside with her children, shades drawn. In Navajo culture, the passing of the moon over the sun is an intimate moment in which the sun is reborn and tribal members take time out for themselves. No talking. No eating or drinking. No lying down. No fussing. "It's a time of renewal," said Baldwin, a Navajo woman from Fort Defiance, Arizona. "Kind of like pressing the alt, control, delete button on your computer, resetting everything." Across the country, American Indian tribes are observing the eclipse in similar and not-so-similar ways. Some tribal members will ignore it, others might watch while praying for an anticipated renewal, and those in prime viewing spots are welcoming visitors with storytelling, food and celebration. For the Crow Tribe in Montana, the eclipse coincides with the Parade Dance at the annual Crow fair, marking the tribe's new year. Many American Indian tribes revere the sun and moon as cultural deities, great sources of power and giver of life. The Crow's cultural director, William Big Day, said the sun is believed to die and come back to life during an eclipse. In more nomadic days, Crows would offer each other "good wishes" for their travels, and elders would advise them to do a cleansing ceremony to start anew, he said. U.S. Bureau of Indian Education spokeswoman Nedra Darling said the agency's schools, most of which are on the Navajo Nation, were given the option of closing Monday. Navajo Nation employees have Monday off, and other schools on and off the reservation that extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah earlier decided to close in respect of the culture that teaches that looking at the sun during an eclipse can be harmful not only to one's eyesight but for overall well-being. "You're welcoming negativity into your life, or turmoil, or troublesome times ahead of you, as well as socially, health-wise and spiritually," Baldwin said. "You're observing something that should not be observed." Farther east near the Great Smoky Mountains, the Eastern Cherokee tribe is expecting thousands of spillover visitors from the national park. Stickball games during a two-day event will reinforce a lesson about cheating and the appearance of the moon. Fairgrounds supervisor Frieda Huskey recalled a legend of a player on the losing team picking up the ball, which is against the rules, and throwing it against the solid sky, so its appearance is small and pale. When the moon or sun is eclipsed, it's because a great frog is trying to swallow it, she said. In response, Cherokees beat drums and fire guns to scare off the frog and ensure the moon or sun don't disappear forever — just as they will do during Monday's solar eclipse, she said. Once the eclipse is over, Cherokee warriors will dance to celebrate the great frog's defeat. When the sun and the moon disappeared during eclipses in the past, it frightened indigenous people who believed they displeased the gods, said Stanford "Butch" Devinney, an Eastern Shoshone spiritual leader and teacher at Wyoming Indian Schools on the Wind River Reservation. The way he sees it now, the eclipse is an opportunity for renewal. "Maybe our way of thinking might change, our behavior," he said. "People will have a different outlook on life. Maybe it will change for the better. Be a different person." Students at two Northern Arapaho schools that share a reservation with the Eastern Shoshone will be using telescopes donated by NASA and special glasses to view the eclipse. Principal Elberta Monroe said teachers have been talking to students about the solar eclipse for months. It's "something students are going to remember for a lifetime," she said. Baldwin will call her children into the living room Monday, share traditional Navajo stories and ask them to meditate and reflect on what they want out of school, athletics and life, she said. For one daughter, the focus would be acceptance from elders on her role in rodeo. Baldwin will ask the children to concentrate and wish for happiness and health for their family, friends and all of humanity. "There's a little conversation, but there's that constant reminder that we need to be quiet," she said.