UPDATE August 18, 2020 –
Picher, Okla. – Investigators will be excavating an old root cellar on South Ethel Street in Picher, Oklahoma. According to KOAM, “this summer the only remaining living suspect, Ronnie Busick, took a plea deal in the case. Busick plead guilty to his part in the kidnapping and murder of the girls. As well as the murders of Freeman’s parents and arson of their mobile home the same night they went missing. The plea deal included reduced time behind bars, but only if he provided information that would lead to the recovery of the girls.”
UPDATE July 15, 2020 –
Ronnie Busick entered a guilty plea to a reduced charge of accessory to murder; the remaining charges of murder, arson and kidnapping were dropped per the agreement. Investigators believe Busick and two other men, Warren Phillip Welch II and David Pennington, both now deceased, are the people who shot Danny and Kathy Freeman and kidnapped the girls on Dec. 30, 1999, and set the Freemans’ mobile home in Welch on fire, reports TulsaWorld.
Investigators think the men kidnapped the girls and took them to a mobile home in Picher, where they were bound, tortured, sexually assaulted and killed.
UPDATE July 24, 2019 – A new search has began for missing Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman. The authorities have begun a search in the waters in an abandoned town called Picher. Ronnie Busick, was charged in 2018 with murder, kidnapping and arson in connection with the case. The other suspects are deceased.
UPDATE – May 14, 2019 Hell in the Heartland: What Happened to Ashley and Lauria?, an HLN Original Series premieres Sunday, June 2 at 9pm ET/PT.
UPDATE Jan 2019 – A new docuseries is being made on this case. See video:
April 24, 2018 – An arrest has been made in the Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible case.
Ronnie Busick, 66, of Kansas has been arrested. Authorities believe that Busick worked with Warren, Welch and David Pennington, who are now dead.
The DA says the three men – Busick, Welch, and Pennington, killed Ashley’s parents, set their home on fire and then kidnapped and eventually killed the girls.
“The Polaroid photographs of the girls in their final days were seen by multiple people and Welch, Pennington and Busick made many statements, to multiple people about the crimes during their lives,” Ballard said.
An affidavit stated Welch kept photographs in a leather brief case that showed the girls bound and gagged at his Picher home. According to the affidavit even though many people saw the pictures no one told the authorities because Welch threatened them.
The DA’s office filed arson, murder and kidnapping charges against Busick.
FOX23 has been following the case for years, reporting in 2017 that “extremely valuable” information was turned over by Craig County Sheriff Heath Winfrey.
The bodies of Ashley and Lauria are still missing and the police are asking for tips to lead them to their whereabouts.
UPDATE: 1/25/16 – Lauria’s mother, Lorene Bible posted on Facebook asking anyone with information on the teens’ disappearance to contact law enforcement and over the weekend, tips came in from Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, Fox 23 reports.
Lorene told the Miami News-Record that she received a tip on social media earlier in January 2016 telling her that authorities should check an old well on property formerly owned by a convicted murder. Nothing was found.
Original story: On December 29, 1999, Ashley Freeman celebrated her 16th birthday with her mother and father, Danny and Kathy Freeman and her best friend, Lauria Bible.
Lauria was spending the night with Ashley at the families mobile home in Welch, Oklahoma. Sometime during the early morning hours a fire started in the home. The mobile home burned to the ground and police found Kathy and Danny’s bodies, but could not find Lauria or Ashley. Danny extensive arrowhead collection was never found and Lauria car was still parked in front of the Freeman mobile home with the keys in the ignition, reports News OK. Also, Lauria’s purse was found in the mobile home.
OSBI investigators also found a small arsenal of weapons as they searched through the debris of the house.
An autopsy showed that Kathy and Danny had been shot in the head.
Before Danny died he told his brother, Dwayne Vancil that if anything happened to him to look at the Craig County Sheriff’s Dept. Danny’s son, Shane had been killed by a deputy from the Craig County Sheriff’s Dept. and Danny was filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Because of the pending litigation, the Craig County Sheriff’s Dept. took themselves out of the investigation and turned it over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. The Sheriff’s Dept. personnel passed polygraph tests.
There was a theory that Danny was a small time drug trafficker and two men that came to his house that he forced to leave may have come back to rob or kill the family.
Another theory is Ashley killed her parents and fled with Lauria.
Jeremy Bryan Jones and another man confessed to leading Lauria and Ashley from the house and killing them, but one confession was proven false.
In 2010 the police released a description of two vehicles seen in the vicinity of the crime scene. A small, dark-colored sedan seen traveling east on a rural road toward Welch between 5:30 and 6 a.m. on Dec. 30, 1999 and a dark colored pickup truck seen heading north toward Chetopa, Kan.
It took the police department 10 years to decide if the information was credible enough to be released to the public.
Is it possible that the two teens burned in the fire like these two children from Tennessee. Although the house was searched for their remains, it was never found, but is it possible that they were burned in the fire but the authorities just didn’t find their remains?
Read this interesting case of the Sodder children. It was stated during that investigation by an employee of a local crematorium that human bones remain even after bodies are burned at 2,000 °F (1,090 °C) for two hours, far longer and hotter than the house fire could have been.