By Jami Custer
Gene Leroy Hart, a Cherokee man, was accused of killing Michelle Guse, Lori Lee Farmer and Denise Milner and hunted by law enforcement officials in 1977. He was acquitted of the crimes in 1979, but died three months later of a heart attack while serving an unrelated prison term.
Russell said he’s making this movie because of his personal connection to the event. He grew up in Tulsa and attended the Boy Scout’s Camp Garland in Locust Grove as a child.
Russell said he thought Hart had gone astray as far as his sexual prowess, but he was not a killer.
“The person that killed the three girls is someone who is a pathological and a psychopath,” he said.
Russell didn’t name the individual he believes is the killer, only saying that this person was not from the area originally and is currently on death row in the state penitentiary in McAlester.
The Cherokee Phoenix asked of the legality of his naming the individual and Russell said that he it is rightful to do so.
“I believe it’s my right to express what was told to me. I think it’s my right constitutionally that any information that I receive would be considered evidence as long as it was not disputed,” he said.
Russell said he’s attempted to give his information to authorities, but has not been successful. He added that making a film was his only avenue of getting out the information.
For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.
Below: "Delno Ebie, left, shakes hands with producer John Russell after auditioning for the part of Gene Leroy Hart for the movie “Candles” on June 26 in Tulsa, Okla. Hart was a Cherokee man who was accused, and later acquitted, of the Camp Scott murders in 1977."