WELCH, Okla. — A man serving time for the disappearance of two Craig County teenagers will soon be released from prison.
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.
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.
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 24 years, authorities have searched different areas of northeast Oklahoma and other surrounding states in hopes of finding the girls’ remains.
Now, one of the men at the center of the case is expected to be released from prison.
Busick received a 10-year prison sentence for his role in the case, but he also earned credit for time served.
As a result, Busick is set to be released from prison later this month.
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.
Sen. Michael Bergstrom, R-Adair, responded to the release of Busick on Tuesday.
“Lauria Bible was a student of mine at Bluejacket High School where I was the English teacher. The murder of the Freeman’s and kidnapping of the girls shocked the school and the community,” Bergstrom said. “I saw how the community pulled together for the family. I saw how Lauria’s mother struggled to cope, always hoping that her daughter was still alive somewhere, and I am sure dreading the possibility of the worst.”
“Now the family must suffer the injustice of seeing this individual who has admitted involvement being released from prison after little more than two years in prison. This is a travesty, and my prayers go out to the family,” Bergstrom added. “Unfortunately, the agreement reached with Busick in this case resulted in him getting a ridiculously small prison sentence, even though he has yet to help law enforcement recover the girls’ bodies. It’s outrageous.”