WELCH, Okla. — New leads to the whereabouts of two missing, and presumed dead, Craig County teens continue to pour into authorities – 23 years after they were last seen.
Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman, the 16-year-old best friends were spending the night at the Freeman homestead on Dec. 29, 1999. Overnight, Ashley’s parents, Danny and Kathy Freeman were fatally shot, and the mobile home was set on fire.
Authorities believe on Dec. 30, 1999, the girls were kidnapped, raped, tortured, drugged, and held against their will for possibly as long as two weeks at a Picher mobile home, and then presumed killed.
For 23 years, authorities have searched different areas of northeast Oklahoma and other surrounding states and investigated thousands of tips all in hopes of leading to the recovery of their remains.
The girls’ disappearance has been profiled on many national television shows and the subject of many magazine articles and books.
Investigators say they continue to receive information and are in the process of vetting it.
In 2018 Ronnie Busick was arrested for his part in the bloodbath. He pleaded guilty to accessory to murder and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Philip Welch and David Pennington, both now deceased, were never charged with the crime but were considered suspects in the slaying of Danny and Kathy Freeman and the disappearance of the girls.
“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.