WELCH, Okla. — 23 years after they were last seen, authorities say they continue to get new leads about the whereabouts of two missing Craig County teenagers.

The case began in 1999 when investigators discovered the bodies of Danny and Kathy Freeman inside their burning home in Welch.

Authorities soon learned that the couple’s daughter, 16-year-old Ashley Freeman, and her friend, 16-year-old Lauria Bible, were missing.

Although rescue teams searched the area, they never found any sign of the teenagers.

Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible (family photo)
Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible (family photo)

The initial investigation didn’t get very far, but authorities said a review in recent years uncovered new evidence, including witness statements linking Ronnie Busick, Warren Phillip Welch and David Pennington to the killings.

Several witnesses said the men killed the Freemans over money owed for drugs, according to authorities.

19 years after the murders, authorities charged Busick with four counts of first-degree murder in relation to the cold case. The other two men have since died.

Ronnie Busick, Craig County Jail.

In an arrest affidavit filed in Busick’s case, authorities believe Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible were “kidnapped, tied up, raped and held at Welch’s mobile home for a ‘matter of days’ before being strangled.”

For 23 years, authorities have searched different areas of northeast Oklahoma and other surrounding states in hopes of finding the girls’ remains.

Investigators say they continue to receive information and are in the process of vetting it.

In the meantime, family members and friends continue to seek answers in the case.

“Twenty-three years ago tonight Ashley celebrated her 16th birthday. They had pizza, asked for Lauria to spend another night and went home for cake and ice cream.

Twenty-three years ago, we had no idea that tonight we would have pizza while spending hours studying aerial photos of Picher Oklahoma, looking for some information based on a tip coming earlier last week.

Lauria, your mom has made many trips to your last known place to be alive this week. She placed flowers for you and Ashley and then keeps going back to make sure the wind didn’t take them away. Tomorrow, I’m sure we will go again and we will work the tips as we always do to try to bring both of you girls home. Every year I make this post and every year I pray it’s the last time I have to say….we are still searching for you. But even if I have to make it every year for the rest of my life, I’ll never stop searching. I’ll never stop standing by your mom, and doing the things we do. Forever.

Ashley, Happy Birthday sweet girl. Where there is one we will find the other. We are always searching for you too. We never forget you. The only thing that brings me peace is knowing that neither of you was alone when whatever happened to you, happened. Throughout it all, I try to focus on the smiles you brought to those around you more than what people know of you both now.

Rest in peace girls. We will keep fighting to find you.”

Find Lauria Bible – BBI Facebook page, Dec. 29, 2022

If anyone has information on the disappearance of Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible, please contact the OSBI at 800.522.8017.

A $50,000 reward remains active.