WELCH, Okla. (KFOR/KJRH) – A man accused of killing four people nearly 20 years ago has been deemed competent to stand trial for the crimes.
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 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.
Although Busick was charged, it was unclear if he would be able to stand trial for the crimes.
According to KJRH, Busick’s attorney said he had concerns about his client’s ability to help himself or his counsel in a trial. He claimed that Busick couldn’t remember him and had trouble staying on track.
On Wednesday, a jury decided that Busick is competent to stand trial for the case.