Man sentenced in Oklahoma cold case disappearance of two girls

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CRAIG COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – A month after a man pleaded guilty to his role in the death of two teenage girls, he has been sentenced for the crime.

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)

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.”

An anonymous caller told investigators that the teens were both killed and their bodies were dumped in a mineshaft southwest of Picher, Oklahoma. Although authorities say they have searched the area, their bodies have never been found.

Busick was charged with four counts of first-degree murder, first-degree arson and two counts of kidnapping.

Last month, Busick pleaded guilty to withholding information in the case and accessory to first-degree murder.

After accepting a plea deal, Busick told investigators that they should search an old root cellar in Pitcher for the remains.

Picher digging site. Credit: KJRH
Credit: KJRH

After an extensive search, nothing was found.

On Monday, Busick was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but he will get credit for time served.

According to KJRH, Busick will likely serve eight more years in prison before serving five years of probation.

Although he has been sentenced, officials with the OSBI say they are not giving up on their search for Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible.

If you have any information on the case, call (800) 522-8017.

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