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Lauria spent the evening of December 30, 1999 at her friend Ashley Freeman's trailer home near Welch, Oklahoma to celebrate the latter's birthday. Lorene Bible, Lauria's mother, said that Kathy Freeman, Ashley's mother, took the girls to the Pizza Hut in Vinita, Oklahoma during the evening.

Lorene's statement contradicts authorities' belief that Kathy and the girls visited Big Bill's Barbecue in the 350 block of North Wilson Street in Vinita, Oklahoma. The group traveled in Kathy's blue Toyota and picked up feed for the Freemans' livestock, as well as water from Kathy's mother's house.

The Freemans' trailer did not have running water and was primarily heated by a wood-burning stove in the living room. The family was described as avid hunters and outdoor enthusiasts who enjoyed living in the remote location. The trailer was equipped with telephone service and electricity. There were numerous firearms stockpiled inside the home and Ashley assisted with hunting for food.

Ashley's boyfriend, Jeremy Hurst, told investigators that he met the women at a local Wal-Mart after their dinner. He gave Ashley a silver chain with a heart-shaped pendant embedded with her birthstone for her birthday present. Hurst said that he returned to the Freemans' home with the women shortly afterwards. He said that nothing appeared to be amiss and he departed at approximately 9:30 p.m.

Ashley's father, Danny Freeman, had relatives over during the evening who claimed that Hurst actually left at 10:30 p.m. Authorities said that no outgoing telephone calls were made from the family's home during the night. Kathy planned to take Ashley to her driver's test the following morning. Lauria had a dental appointment scheduled for the following morning and planned to leave the trailer shortly beforehand.

A passing motorist reported a fire in the vicinity of the Freemans' residence at approximately 6:00 a.m. the following morning. Authorities discovered Kathy's remains inside the debris during the afternoon. Investigators initially stated that they were positive no other bodies were inside the home and did not secure the location during the overnight hours.

Danny was considered the prime suspect in his wife's murder; authorities believed that he may have abducted Ashley and Lauria and traveled elsewhere, but all of the Freemans' vehicles were parked near their home. Lauria's car was also nearby and the keys were inside the ignition. Lorene discovered Lauria's purse propped inside the trailer, but there was no other evidence of the girls at the scene.

Jay Bible, Lauria's father, discovered Danny's body in the bedroom of the mobile home during the following morning. The Bibles returned to the trailer in an attempt to gather more evidence as to their daughter's whereabouts. Both Danny and Kathy had died as the result of gunshot wounds. Danny's body was partially covered by debris inside the bedroom, explaining why his remains were overlooked.

The medical examiner determined that Danny's right collarbone had been fractured prior to the entrance of the fatal wound. The coroner determined that Kathy died at approximately 5:00 a.m. Investigators believe that the fire was intentionally set in an attempt to destroy evidence of the crimes. An extensive search for the girls produced no evidence as to their whereabouts.

Lorene told reporters that Ashley had been saving her money to purchase a used vehicle in December 1999. Lorene said that she believed Ashley had accumulated $1200 in her savings account.

Hurst said that Ashley actually claimed to have saved between $3000 and $4000 for the car. She was employed part-time at Roscoe's, a convenience store in Welch. Hurst said that Ashley did not have a bank account; she kept her money sealed in a Tupperware container in the family's freezer. Authorities were unable to locate any evidence of the cash after the fire.

Lorene stated that Ashley and Danny had been arguing earlier in the month regarding the vehicle. She claimed that Ashley wanted to purchase a different car than Danny had desired. Danny reportedly had a violent temper and had been charged with abusing his son, Shane, in 1998. He was acquitted of the charges in 1999. Danny consistently protested the allegations.

Oklahoma law enforcement officer David Hayes shot and killed the Freemans' son, Shane, in 1998. Hayes was on duty at the time of the incident. Shane was on a country road in possession of a stolen vehicle at the time Hayes encountered him. The car had apparently broken down. Shane allegedly reached behind his back and pulled a gun, prompting Hayes to fire at him. The incident was investigated and Hayes' actions were found to be justified.

Hayes and his brother, who is also a law enforcement officer, said they both took polygraph exams after the girls' 1999 disappearances. Neither of them are considered suspects in the investigations. Hayes and his brother have not participated in the active cases.

Several of Danny's relatives believe that local law enforcement was behind the murders and the girls' disappearances, but no evidence has been located to support the theory. Freeman family members also believe that Shane was attempting to flee the scene at the time of his death and claim that his autopsy report contradicts the official verdict. Photos of Danny, Kathy and Shane are posted with this case summary.

There was speculation that Ashley and Lauria were involved in the Freemans' murders after the searches failed to produce evidence as to their whereabouts. Investigators stated that there was nothing in either girl's background to suggest they could be capable of such brutal acts.

Ashley was a member of the Welch High School basketball team, although she was unable to participate in the 1999 season as the result of an ankle injury. Lauria was a cheerleader and planned to become a cosmetologist after her high school graduation. Both girls were viewed as being well-behaved teenagers in 1999.

Several possible suspects were investigated over the years, including the serial killers Tommy Lynn Sells and Jeremy Brian Jones. In April 2018, eighteen years after the two teens vanished, police announced that they had made a serious break in the case.

Authorities now believe that three men, identified as Warren Phillip "Phil" Welch II, David A. Pennington and Ronnie Dean Busick, went to the trailer that night, killed Danny and Kathy, set the fire and took the girls. Pennington and Welch are now deceased and Busick has been arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of arson.

According to investigators' theory, Ashley and Lauria were kept alive for an unknown number of days after they were abducted. The three suspects took Polaroid photos of the girls while they were captives. They told multiple people they were holding them, and showed them the pictures.

Busick is awaiting trial for Ashley and Laura's murders. Authorities still hope to recover the girls' bodies, and the case remains under investigation. Foul play is suspected in their cases due to the circumstances involved.


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SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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Lauria's photo is shown age-progressed to 36 years. Lauria and Ashley were discovered missing after a fire destroyed the trailer Ashley and her family lived in. The bodies of Ashley's parents were discovered in the trailer but Ashley and Lauria have not been seen since. Lauria has a mole under her nose.

Native American female. Brown hair, hazel eyes. Lauria has a mole under her nose and a scar on the top of her head. Her ears are pierced. She is right-handed. Her nickname is Pooh.

NCMEC - https://www.missingkids.org/poster/NCMC/877676/1/screen

NamUs - https://www.namus.gov/MissingPersons/Case#/5849


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SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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1587347022908.png 1587347028945.png

Ashley's photo is shown age-progressed to 36 years. Ashley and Lauria were discovered missing after a fire destroyed the trailer Ashley and her family lived in. The bodies of Ashley's parents were discovered in the trailer but Ashley and Lauria have not been seen since. Ashley has a scar on her forehead.

Caucasian female. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Ashley had an athletic build in 1999. She has a scar on the upper left side of her forehead.

NCMEC - https://www.missingkids.org/poster/NCMC/877671/1/screen

NamUs - https://www.namus.gov/MissingPersons/Case#/6083


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SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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Defendant in missing Welch girls case may have pending plea agreement

A plea agreement may be pending for the defendant in a quadruple murder case who waived his preliminary hearing Monday in connection to the disappearance and presumed deaths of two Craig County teens.

Ronnie Busick, 58, wearing a mask and orange jail clothes, appeared in Craig County District Court on charges of murder, arson and kidnapping in the deaths of Danny and Kathy Freeman; their 16-year-old daughter, Ashley; and her best friend, Lauria Bible.

Busick was ordered to return to court July 15 for a district court arraignment in which he may enter a plea to accessory to murder, said Gary Stansill, a cold case investigator with the District Attorney’s Office.

He said Busick would be required to provide cooperation and details leading to the location of Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman, but he would still serve prison time.

Stansill could not say what kind of sentence Busick might receive if his help leads investigators to the girls’ remains.
 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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Missing Welch Girls: Busick pleads guilty, sentence depends on finding girls’ remains

The last surviving man suspected in the 1999 murder of two missing girls from Welch pleaded guilty in court on Wednesday.

Ronnie Busick is charged with accessory to murder and will be sentenced to five years in prison and five years of probation if the remains of Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible are found by Aug. 31.

If the remains aren’t found, Busick will be sentenced to 10 years in prison and five years of supervision.


The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation narrowed down a handful of possible sites where the remains of Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman could be located, but have not yet found them.
 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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New book looks into missing Welch girls case

A new book is shedding more light on the case of Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible.

The book “Hell in the Heartland: Murder, Meth, and the Case of Two Missing Girls,” will have a virtual launch party Tuesday night.


 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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Missing Welch Girls: No findings in Tuesday’s search in Picher

Crews wrapped up their search Tuesday in Picher for the bodies of two Welch girls missing since 1999.

Investigators say they searched two locations on Tuesday but didn’t find evidence of the girls’ remains.


Ronnie Busick, the only living suspect in the investigation, pleaded guilty to accessory to murder on July 15, 2020.

Busick made a deal with the state in July
saying if he helps find the girls’ remains, his prison sentence will get cut in half.

The deal is only valid until Aug. 31.

The team says Busick told them that he was 80 percent sure the remains were there. Busick said he had been out to the site in the past with the two other suspects on several occasions.

Investigators say they are hopeful Busick will give them more information. The team also says they have more areas to search.
 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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New search for Welch girls yields no new evidence

Investigators gathered Tuesday morning in Picher to excavate an old root cellar in the continuing search for two teenage girls missing from Welch since 1999, according to Craig County District Attorney Matt Ballard’s office and members of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

Unfortunately, the search for the bodies of Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman did not turn up any new evidence, according to Michelle Lowry, Community Outreach and Victim Services Coordinator with the Craig County DA’s office.

Investigators search for Oklahoma girls missing since 1999

The location in what is today a ghost town was provided by Ronnie Busick, 69, who pleaded guilty in July to accessory to murder charges in the case as part of a deal that requires him to provide information leading to the recovery of the remains of girls.

I believe he’s trying, to what degree I don’t know,” said Ottawa County district attorney investigator Gary Stansill regarding Busick’s cooperation.

“We brought him out here to verify the location and ... it doesn’t look anything like it did in 1999,” Stansill said.
 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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Suspect in 1999 murder of Welch couple, girls sentenced to 10 years in prison

A suspect of the missing Welsh girls is sentenced to 10 years in jail. More than 20 years after the search began.

“Today justice was as served as it was going to be served,” said Lorene Bible.

It’s been a long battle for Lorene. Watching Ronnie Busick, the man accused of killing her daughter, appear in court over and over again.

“I just wanted him to know. This is what you took from us,” Lorene said. “You’re an evil man.”

Busick was sentenced to 10 years in prison and five years’ probation.



August 31st was the deadline for Busick to lead investigators to the remains of the two girls.

That deadline was missed, so the Craig County District Attorney’s office said it’s time to move on.

“This case needed to be resolved and today we’re just grateful that we’re able to, at least from a legal standpoint, do that,” said assistant DA Isaac Shields.

Investigators and the Bible family said their fight isn’t over.

Not until they find out where the girls remains are.

Jay Bible said they’ll keep looking as long as it takes.

“If it takes 20 more years, that’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “We’re going to keep looking. Ronnie Busick is out of our lives now.”

OSBI said it is still looking into leads for their search of the missing girls.
 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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Investigator outlines bloody details provided by convict in Welch girls case​

Bloody details and 2-decades-old hidden secrets are slowly emerging from the night two Craig County teens went missing.

Busick told authorities two of his now-deceased associates, Warren Phillip Welch II and David Pennington, were the masterminds behind the bloodbath that left the Freeman mobile home in Welch in ashes on Dec. 30, 1999, and the kidnapping, torture, rape and eventually death of the teenagers.

Since his conviction, Gary Stansill, District 12 District Attorney’s Investigator, has visited Busick almost daily trying to jog his memory for a clue on the whereabouts of Lauria and Ashley.

During his interviews with Busick, the convicted felon attributes details to what “Pennington said” and uses words like “maybe, likely, could have” when giving information, he said.

Busick admitted to being at the Freeman home that night but said he had nothing to do with the shootings or kidnapping; he just stayed in the vehicle, he said. He also failed a polygraph test where he said he was not at the Freeman property that night, Stansill said.

Busick says the only reason he knows bits and pieces of what happened is because he overheard Welch and Pennington’s conversations when they were cooking methamphetamine, Stansill said.


Although Ashley and Lauria’s remains are still missing, what is emerging are details of what happened that night.

“They went to the Freeman home to collect on a drug debt,” Stansill said, of Welch, Pennington and Busick.

Freeman was well known to cultivate and sell a high-grade marijuana product, he said.

The men arrived at the rural Welch farm in Pennington’s truck around 10 or 11 p.m. Dec. 29, 1999. Welch was carrying a loaded shotgun under his trench coat, Stansill said, relaying his conversation with Busick.

“He (Freeman) was expecting them,” Stansill said. “He knew they were coming over.”

The next turn of events remains buried with Welch, Pennington and Danny Freeman. For reasons only known to those three men, a possible dispute ensued and as Danny went for his gun, Welch fatally shot him in the head. Then Welch went into the master bedroom and pushed Kathy Freeman down on the bed and shot her in the head, Busick told Stansill.

Busick said he learned Welch dragged Danny Freeman’s body to the master bedroom and left his body near the couple’s waterbed, he said.

When the shooting started, Lauria and Ashley ran out the back door, which was next to Ashley’s bedroom, and hid in a field, Stansill said.

Pennington remained in his truck during the shooting and after the shootings, Pennington and Welch ransacked the house, Stansill said. Pennington and Welch dumped gasoline around a wood-burning stove in the living room and set the mobile home on fire, he said.

“Phil was known to carry a gasoline can with him,” Stansill said.

When Pennington returned to his truck, he was carrying an unknown amount of money and an unknown amount of marijuana. He had gotten the marijuana from a trashcan in the Freeman master bedroom, he said.

After the home was set ablaze, the girls fled the open field and tried to escape before they were corralled, captured and kidnapped, he said.

“One went one way and the other one went the other way,” Stansill said, describing how the frantic and terrified girls ran trying to escape their abusers.

After the girls were captured, they were tied up with a rope Pennington and Welch had taken from Danny and Kathy’s bedroom and socks were stuffed into their mouths.

“Busick said they came back to the farm to check on the fire,” Stansill said. “I believe when they returned to the scene it was in the dark-colored sedan and this was when the insurance card fell out of the vehicle.”

Danny’s remains were found the next day beside the waterbed by Lauria Bible’s parents, Jay and Lorene Bible. The Bible family had been searching through debris and rubble, when they stumbled onto Danny’s body, guarded by his pet Rottweiler.

Court documents show the teens were taken to a mobile home in Picher, where they were bound, tortured, raped and killed, and their bodies were thrown in a mine pit. Stansill believes the girls were alive for two weeks.
 

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Investigator outlines bloody details provided by convict in Welch girls case​

Bloody details and 2-decades-old hidden secrets are slowly emerging from the night two Craig County teens went missing.

Busick told authorities two of his now-deceased associates, Warren Phillip Welch II and David Pennington, were the masterminds behind the bloodbath that left the Freeman mobile home in Welch in ashes on Dec. 30, 1999, and the kidnapping, torture, rape and eventually death of the teenagers.

Since his conviction, Gary Stansill, District 12 District Attorney’s Investigator, has visited Busick almost daily trying to jog his memory for a clue on the whereabouts of Lauria and Ashley.

During his interviews with Busick, the convicted felon attributes details to what “Pennington said” and uses words like “maybe, likely, could have” when giving information, he said.

Busick admitted to being at the Freeman home that night but said he had nothing to do with the shootings or kidnapping; he just stayed in the vehicle, he said. He also failed a polygraph test where he said he was not at the Freeman property that night, Stansill said.

Busick says the only reason he knows bits and pieces of what happened is because he overheard Welch and Pennington’s conversations when they were cooking methamphetamine, Stansill said.


Although Ashley and Lauria’s remains are still missing, what is emerging are details of what happened that night.

“They went to the Freeman home to collect on a drug debt,” Stansill said, of Welch, Pennington and Busick.

Freeman was well known to cultivate and sell a high-grade marijuana product, he said.

The men arrived at the rural Welch farm in Pennington’s truck around 10 or 11 p.m. Dec. 29, 1999. Welch was carrying a loaded shotgun under his trench coat, Stansill said, relaying his conversation with Busick.

“He (Freeman) was expecting them,” Stansill said. “He knew they were coming over.”

The next turn of events remains buried with Welch, Pennington and Danny Freeman. For reasons only known to those three men, a possible dispute ensued and as Danny went for his gun, Welch fatally shot him in the head. Then Welch went into the master bedroom and pushed Kathy Freeman down on the bed and shot her in the head, Busick told Stansill.

Busick said he learned Welch dragged Danny Freeman’s body to the master bedroom and left his body near the couple’s waterbed, he said.

When the shooting started, Lauria and Ashley ran out the back door, which was next to Ashley’s bedroom, and hid in a field, Stansill said.

Pennington remained in his truck during the shooting and after the shootings, Pennington and Welch ransacked the house, Stansill said. Pennington and Welch dumped gasoline around a wood-burning stove in the living room and set the mobile home on fire, he said.

“Phil was known to carry a gasoline can with him,” Stansill said.

When Pennington returned to his truck, he was carrying an unknown amount of money and an unknown amount of marijuana. He had gotten the marijuana from a trashcan in the Freeman master bedroom, he said.

After the home was set ablaze, the girls fled the open field and tried to escape before they were corralled, captured and kidnapped, he said.

“One went one way and the other one went the other way,” Stansill said, describing how the frantic and terrified girls ran trying to escape their abusers.

After the girls were captured, they were tied up with a rope Pennington and Welch had taken from Danny and Kathy’s bedroom and socks were stuffed into their mouths.

“Busick said they came back to the farm to check on the fire,” Stansill said. “I believe when they returned to the scene it was in the dark-colored sedan and this was when the insurance card fell out of the vehicle.”

Danny’s remains were found the next day beside the waterbed by Lauria Bible’s parents, Jay and Lorene Bible. The Bible family had been searching through debris and rubble, when they stumbled onto Danny’s body, guarded by his pet Rottweiler.

Court documents show the teens were taken to a mobile home in Picher, where they were bound, tortured, raped and killed, and their bodies were thrown in a mine pit. Stansill believes the girls were alive for two weeks.
I have no words.
 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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Family skeptical after suspect offers new tip in missing Welch girls case: 'It's hard to trust anything he says'​

After a convicted felon offered up a new location in the search for two Craig County teens missing for 20 years, the victim’s family said they’re tired of Ronnie Busick playing games.

“I don’t know where the girls are buried,” the 68-year-old said during a 30-minute telephone jailhouse interview on Monday.

But he did tell investigator Gary Stansill he should look at a hand-dug water well in Chetopa, Kansas.

“He has also said a root cellar is the best location,” Stansill said.


“Busick’s story changes so often, it’s hard to trust anything he says,” she said.

Brodrick said the Bible family is tired of Busick’s games. It’s unfortunate Busick’s words are all the victims’ families have to go on, she said.

“I wish he would just stop the nonsense and third-person conversations and just be honest,” Brodrick said. “We need to bring the girls home.”
 

SheWhoMustNotBeNamed

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Man convicted in Welch girls' murders speaks out: 'I didn't have anything to do with it'​

The man convicted in connection with the 1999 disappearance of two 16-year-old Welch girls said it all started with a debt involving 1-2 ounces of meth owed to an “evil” drug dealer.

Ronnie Busick, 68, was the only suspect in the crime still living when he pleaded guilty to accessory to murder. He was sentenced to 10 years for his involvement with the killings of Danny and Kathy Freeman and the disappearance and presumed deaths of their 16-year-old daughter Ashley and her best friend Lauria Bible.

“The most misunderstood part of this is I didn’t have anything to do with it, and I am the one doing time,” Busick said in a phone interview this week from the Craig County jail.

Busick said he feels like he was left to take the consequences for Pennington’s and Welch’s actions.


“I didn’t think I was going to get a fair trial,” Busick said. “Pleading out was the quickest way to get out. I just want to go home.”

Prosecutor Isaac Shields said earlier he would revisit the issue of reducing Busick’s time if tells where the girls’ remains are located.
 

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