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The Girl Scout Murders

The Girl Scout Murders

A four part true crime series

Premiered in October 2022 on Fox Nation

The unthinkable murders of three young Girl Scouts during a camping trip on the Cherokee reservation just outside Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1977 has haunted the state for more than four decades. But a strange series of events and startling new revelations has sent a local author and teacher on an unexpected journey that may change the history of this notorious cold case, solving it once and for all.

Created by Faith Phillips
Produced by Texas Crew Productions

Pursuit Films Team Involvement

  • Jeremy Charles, Co-Executive Producer, Story Producer

  • Matt Leach, Editor

  • Ty Clark, Editor

  • Nick Buttram, Camera Assistant

  • Viet Nguyen, Camera Assistant

  • Josiah Jones, Production Assistant

Faith Phillips, a Cherokee novelist, called out of the blue on a hot summer day on a car ride. We were relative strangers. She had a big project that was starting to gain traction and needed some help. 

Faith had agreed to teach English at Stilwell High School for a year, as a favor really. She had no intention of staying a teacher. She was hell bent on writing the next great American novel. But the chance to inspire young minds at her alma mater, in a largely Native American community with loads of problems, she couldn’t turn her back.

She had tasked her students with producing a podcast in the Spring semester. They chose to cover Oklahoma’s most legendary unsolved homicide case: The Girl Scout Murders of 1977. Little did she know - that assignment would come to change the trajectory of her life, and the lives of her students. When news got around about their podcast, made for a student competition on NPR, a spark ignited. She received a strange message from an anonymous source. “If you want to know more about this case, there is someone you need to talk to.” The thread led to Paul Smith, a 95 year old former Sheriff of Mayes County. When she went to meet him at an assisted living center, his story left her stunned. He shared information that would reignite the 45 year old case. 

Sheriff Smith had a theory that was systematically buried by those in power. What he knew had haunted him the rest of his life. Once Faith pulled the thread, it didn’t end. 

Through another true crime story Faith was working on, she had made contact with Texas Crew Productions, a prolific and reputable company in the unscripted series space. When she told them about her students’ podcast and the uncanny events that were transpiring in real time, it was clear that new developments would make Girl Scout Murders a gripping TV series. 

Jeremy Charles and Ty Clark of Pursuit Films would help Faith hone the pitch and developed a strong teaser film that clinched the deal. 

The new developments in the case precipitated even as the show was shopped and eventually green lit at Fox Nation, who had just distributed the series “In the Valley of Sin” on their streaming platform. 

This version of the Girl Scout Murders had an approach that differed from past tellings: the embrace of the perspective of the Cherokee community involved in the unsolved, and still technically open case. The presumed killer Gene Leroy Hart, a Cherokee, was widely assumed to be guilty, though he was ultimately acquitted for the crime. The case had traumatized the Locust Grove Oklaoma community, the region, the state of Oklahoma, and its shadow still loomed. 

Jeremy Charles was brought on to Co-Executive produce and serve as Story Producer. The Pursuit Films team was brought on to support development, production and post production. Ty Clark and Matt Leach would guide episode editing, while Jeremy and frequent collaborator Julianna Brannum would guide the story under the direction of veteran showrunner Steven J. Katz and Faith Phillips. 

Through close connections to the Cherokee and Locust Grove communities, Faith and Jeremy were able to unlock an angle that had never been explored: The Cherokee perspective. Due to the historic McGirt Supreme Court decision in 2021, Cherokee Nation tribal sovereignty through law enforcement jurisdiction came into play when stonewalled and openly thwarted by State and Local authorities. 

It was an emotionally painful and complex story to tell as we asked those involved to reopen old wounds. But we pushed it across the finish line, and The Girl Scout Murders aired in October 2022 on Fox Nation. 

Watch Girl Scout Murders trailer

Watch The Girl Scout Murders series on Fox Nation (subscription)

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© 2023 Pursuit Films, a certified Native-owned company, formerly FireThief Productions

© 2023 Pursuit Films,
a certified Native-owned company,
formerly FireThief Productions

© 2023 Pursuit Films, a certified Native-owned company, formerly FireThief Productions