Filmmaker Behind Movie About Oklahoma's Girl Scout Murders Has Criminal Past

Tuesday, June 28th 2011, 9:54 pm
By: News On 6

Tara Vreeland, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Red flags are being raised about the man behind the movie documenting the 1977 Girl Scout murders in Oklahoma.

The murders happened more than thirty years ago, but the tragedy still haunts the victim's families.

"I wasn't allowed to be a Girl Scout. It was hard for my parents to let me stay at other people's houses," a family member of one of the victim's, said.

"All my life people say they know someone who confessed to doing it," the family member added.

Now the brutal Girl Scout murders could be headed to the silver screen.

Filmmaker John Russell Penn held a casting call in Tulsa for his movie called "Candles" over the weekend. Hundreds turned out to audition, but the integrity of the filmmaker is under fire.

6/26/2011 Related Story: Tulsans Audition For Role In Upcoming Girl Scout Murder Movie

"I don't disagree with a movie being made. I just wish someone with more credibility was doing it," the relative said.

Penn has a criminal past, from forgery to fraud to bogus checks and embezzlement. He was convicted both in the state and federally and served time in prison.

"I'm not proud of my past but at the same time my producing of film has nothing to do with my background," he said.

Penn said when he's up front about his background, people are naturally suspicious.

"I just want the families to know what they are up against and what they are dealing with in case this is another one of his scams," the family member of one of the victim's told News On 6.

Penn said if it wasn't for his background, he wouldn't know the things he knows about the girl scout murders.

During auditions, he told said the real girl scout killer confessed to him.

"Actually solve the crime that's 34 years old. I don't think that's ever been done with an actual film," he said.

Penn said the point of the film is to force the state of Oklahoma to investigate those who are responsible.

"It's something I've had to live with for many, many years," he said. "I'm still living with it and I don't want that to play a part of producing a film that will actually be a benefit to family members but to everyone else who was involved."

The Oklahoma Film and Music Office does not support the movie. It says Penn's approach is all wrong, claiming to name a killer in the film rather than taking that information to the police right now.