VINITA, Oklahoma — Charges have finally been filed in an 18-year-old cold case disappearance of two teenage girls from a burning mobile home where the parents of one of them were shot to death.
The girls, Ashley Freeman and her friend Lauria Bible, both 16, have never been found and are believed dead.
Ronnie Dean Busick, 66, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the December 1999 slayings of Danny and Kathy Freeman and the two girls. Bible had been staying with the family that night to celebrate Ashley’s 16th birthday.
Two other suspects in the killings, Warren Phillip Welch II and David Pennington, have since died, investigators said.
Authorities say the three men came to the Freeman house in Vinita that night either to sell drugs or collect on a drug debt, the Oklahoman newspaper reported. The girls are believed to have unexpectedly walked into the house after the men had killed the Freemans.
Prosecutor say the men then kidnapped the girls and set the mobile home on fire. According to court documents, prosecutors believe the men held the girls in Welch’s mobile home and raped them. Welch and Pennington are through to have strangled the girls after “a matter of days.”
According to prosecutors, Welch kept photos of the teens “lying on a bed, facing each other, with their hands tied and their mouths gagged,” with some photos featuring him lying next to the teens.
Authorities believe the girls’ bodies were dumped in a pit or mine shaft in the area known as the Tar Creek Superfund site or “dumped in a cellar that was later covered in concrete,” according to the affidavit.
“We believe there are people with knowledge of this crime who can assist in recovering the girls’ bodies and bring some closure to their families,” Craig County District Attorney Matt Ballard said.