Teenagers Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman disappeared from Freeman’s home in Welch, Oklahoma, on this day in 1999 and were never seen again. Teenagers Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman went missing from Ashley’s home in Welch, Oklahoma, between the evening of December 29, 1999, and the early hours of December 30, 1999. It was Ashley’s birthday, and Lauria had come to stay at her parents’ trailer house near Welch, Oklahoma, with Ashley Freeman.
Details of Disappearance
Ashley Freeman celebrated her sixteenth birthday on December 29, 1999, with her best friend Lauria Bible, her parents Danny and Kathy Freeman, and her boyfriend Jeremy Hurst. They celebrated at the mobile home of the Freemans in Vinita, Oklahoma. Jeremy departed at at 9:30 p.m.
On December 30, 1999, during the night or early morning hours, a fire broke out in the Freemans’ mobile home. At 5:30 am on the morning of December 30, 1999, a worried neighbour phoned the fire department. Lauria’s parents and the police conducted an immediate search of the debris for the Freemans and Lauria. Kathy’s body was discovered, but Danny’s and the daughters’ bodies could not be located. Kathy’s autopsy revealed that she was shot to death. Investigators discovered that the fire was intentionally started.
The police hypothesized that Danny had murdered Kathy and kidnapped Ashley and Lauria. The following day, Lauria’s parents searched the ruins for a clue. Five minutes later, they were astonished to uncover something investigators had missed: a second body that had been nearly completely burnt beyond recognition. Danny’s body was identified; he had also been shot with a shotgun at close range.
Ashley and Lauria’s remains were not found with Danny’s, nor were they nearby. However, a second check of the premises revealed a vital clue: Lauria’s left-behind pocketbook, which had her driver’s license and $200. This indicated that the girls were maybe abducted. The fact that the money was left behind allowed authorities to rule out robbery as a motive.
There were no suspects in this case, but three months before to his murder, Danny advised his brother Dwayne Vancil to contact the Craig County Sheriff’s Department if anything were to happen to him. Shane Freeman, the son of Danny Freeman, was shot and murdered by a deputy after stealing a truck and a pistol from a neighbour. Even though the shooting was deemed justifiable, Danny was going to sue the police for wrongful death shortly prior to the terrible fire. The deputies volunteered to withdraw from the inquiry and turn it over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. They were cooperative and passed polygraph examinations. The Sheriff’s Office’s involvement in this case was later ruled out.
A second argument suggested that Danny was a minor narcotics trafficker. Two weeks before the murders, he met with two unidentified males, according to an informant. Evidently, one was not welcome there. However, this argument did not adequately explain the disappearance of the girls. It seems odd that the murderers would abduct the victims instead of killing them at the scene.
Others suspected Ashley murdered Danny and Kathy due to friction with Danny, but investigators concluded the girls could not have remained concealed for long if this notion was true. Lauria’s family is similarly unconvinced that either girl is capable of murder.
Lauria and Ashley have never been located. In this situation, a $50,000 prize is being offered.
Shane Freeman, who was shot and killed by a deputy after the theft of a neighbor’s pickup and weapon, has sparked a long-standing rivalry between the Freemans and the Craig County Sheriff’s department. Later, a court found that the shot was justified. A source suggested that the murders and kidnapping were related to drugs. Jeremy Hurst was not a suspect in the disappearance of the girls.
Unresolved. Jeremy Jones, an inmate on death row, admitted to killing Danny and Kathy. In addition, he asserted that he took the girls to Kansas, shot them, and then dumped their bodies in an abandoned mine. However, a search of the mine turned up nothing. He then recounted the incident. A report of his arrest revealed that he was taken into custody at 4 a.m. on the morning of the fire, more than eighteen miles away. Another man has admitted to the murders and kidnapping. However, it is no longer believed that these confessions are credible. In 2010, Ashley was declared legally deceased.
In December 2017, new investigators uncovered notes from the initial investigation that had been presumed lost. In response to these notes, the investigators immediately followed new leads. Ronnie Dean Busick was arrested and charged with the murders on April 23, 2018. He was also accused of kidnapping the girls and torching the Freemans’ mobile home. Two additional suspects, Warren Phillip Welch and David Pennington, were identified as being involved in this case; however, they were unable to be apprehended due to their deaths. Investigators believe that Welch was the crime’s “mastermind” and that Pennington and Busick were his accomplices.
According to an affidavit released by investigators, the three men were initially considered suspects. At the crime scene, an insurance card belonging to Welch’s girlfriend at the time was discovered. Another of his girlfriends stated that he, Pennington, and Busick were involved with drugs and had admitted to murdering the Freemans because they owed them drug money. In addition, they claimed to have set fire to the Freemans’ mobile home, abducted the girls, and murdered them elsewhere.
Additionally, Welch’s girlfriend told police that she had seen Polaroid photos of the girls that he kept in a soft leather briefcase. They were tied and bound in them. In a few of them, he was present. Additionally, they were lying on a bed that she identified as his. She also claimed that he threatened to kill her and throw her into a pit with the missing girls after she stole them from him. Sadly, she had since misplaced them.
Pennington’s girlfriend also informed the police that he had confessed to committing the murders and that Welch and Busick were his accomplices. He threatened her life if she reported him to the police. A second witness, a friend of Welch’s second girlfriend, told police that she had also seen the photographs and that he had threatened her to keep quiet. Another witness informed law enforcement that Busick had boasted about his involvement in the murders.
Several additional witnesses, some as recently as 2017, claimed to have seen the photographs and heard the suspects boast about the murders. Despite Busick’s arrest, the police have been unable to locate the bodies of Lauria and Ashley, but they continue to investigate new tips and search for them.
On July 15, 2020, Busick pleaded guilty to first-degree murder complicity. In exchange for not being charged with first-degree murder and arson, Busick was required to help investigators locate Lauria and Ashley’s remains by August 31. Busick was sentenced to ten years in prison and five years of probation after no trace of the victims could be found.
- Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman on Unsolved.com
- Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman on Wikipedia
- Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman on the Charley Project.
- Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman on the AMW website
- FBI joins search for two girls – January 5, 2000
- Tips lead to dead ends aplenty – January 8, 2005
- Court uphold death sentence for murderer, Jeremy Jones – December 30, 2009
- Mom of Girl Missing Since 1999 Hopes Age Progressed Photos Will Lead to Info – December 31, 2013
- 15 years later, mystery still surrounds missing Oklahoma girls – December 29, 2014
- New leads in search of Oklahoma girls missing since 1999 – January 25, 2016
- Case of Teen Girls Missing Since 1999 Gets Fresh Look – January 26, 2016
- State authorities hoping someone will come forward with info on Oklahoma girls missing since 1999 – October 19, 2017
- Newly Found Investigation Notes Provide Leads in 1999 Cold Case of Missing Girls – January 4, 2018
- Suspect arrested in 1999 disappearance of Welch girls, murders of one girl’s parents – April 23, 2018
- Affidavit for Ronnie Busick – April 23, 2018
- Officials name three suspects in Ashley Freeman, Lauria Bible case – December 21, 2018
- Case to move forward against man accused in cold case murders of Oklahoma teens – December 21, 2018
- Search for remains of Oklahoma girls circling back to early tip – January 8, 2019
- Defendant enters guilty plea in Welch girls disappearance – July 15, 2020
- Ronnie Busick sentenced for his role in missing Welch girls case – September 1, 2020
- Ronnie Busick Gives Details On Lauria Bible, Ashley Freeman Abduction – October 13, 2020
- Searchers in Picher in hunt for missing Welch girls – April 27, 2021