Three Girl Scouts aged 8 to 10 were beaten or strangled to death in the night as they tented in sleeping bags with 100 other girls at a summer camp, authorities said today.

All three had been badly beaten and at least one had been sexually molested and bore marks of strangling, said Mayes County Sheriff Glen (Pete) Weaver.

He said the girls, who had arrived Sunday for a week-long outing, apparently were killed inside a 12-by-14-foot green platform tent. Their bodies were then carried 150 yards in the sleeping bags and left near the inter-section of two dirt roads in Camp Scott in northeast Oklahoma.

Weaver said the killer struck without arousing anyone else in the party of 100 scouts and 40 staff members. Weaver said he thought there were only one killer, but would not say whether he had a suspect in mind. He declined to speculate on what weapon may have been used in the beatings.

"I just don't think we have that many nuts in this area," the sheriff said. "It makes me pretty bitter, very bitter. I feel like the investigation will bring results.

"I don't think he was being selective of the girls," he said. "I think he was being selective of their tent. It was an end tent and the closest one was 50 to 75 feet away."

Rain had fallen on the campgrounds until about 10 p.m., but there were no tracks to indicate a vehicle had driven in the compound, the sheriff said. Instead, the assailant apparently walked into the rugged, hilly, 610-acre campside. The main gate is locked at 11 p.m., Weaver said. Camp administrator Barbara Day discovered the bodies at about 6 a.m.

The victims were identified as Michelle Guse, 9, of Broken Arrow, a Tulsa suburb; Lori Lee Farmer, 8, and Doris Denise Milner, 10, both of Tulsa.

Buses today returned the other campers to their homes. Parents were taken into the camp in buses from Tulsa.

"The camp will be closed at least the rest of the week until we can investigate the circumstances," said Ginny Young, public relations director for the Magic Empire Council of the Girl Scouts.

The camp is 1.7 miles south of Locust Grove at the junction of Spring and Snake creeks, tributaries of the Grand River which forms a string of lakes through the thickly timbered hills. About five miles to the north, Markham Ferry Dam spans Lake Hudson, a popular boating and fishing reservoir.