Two parents are found murdered in their burned trailer and their daughter and her friend are missing.
Vinita, Oklahoma, is a small rural town in Craig County. On December 29, 1999, local teenager Ashley Freeman turned 16. It was a night of celebration for her parents and for her best friend Lauria Bible. Lauria’s father, Jay, recalled the last time he saw his daughter:
Sometime during the night, the Freemans’ home became an inferno. By the time Lauria’s parents arrived the fire was out, but the home had been reduced to ashes. Lauria’s car was still there, but there was no sign of their daughter. Lorene Bible talked to the coroner:
The body was Kathy Freeman’s, the mother of Lauria’s friend Ashley. But where were Ashley, her father Danny, and Lauria Bible? According to Captain Jim Herman of the Craig County Sheriff’s Department, even the authorities were stumped:
Then the case became even more baffling when the coroner determined Kathy Freeman did not die in the fire, but from a shotgun wound to the head. The arson squad concluded that the blaze was deliberately set.
According to Lorene Bible, her daughter Lauria and Ashley had been best friends since kindergarten:
The day after the fire, Lauria’s parents returned to the crime scene. They hoped to find a clue the investigators had missed. After only 5 minutes, they made a shocking discovery: another body, almost burned beyond recognition. But it wasn’t Lauria or Ashley. According to Lorene, it was an adult male, and he, too, had been shot:
The body was identified as Danny Freeman, Kathy’s husband. And like Kathy, he had also been shot at close range with a shotgun. Investigators re-examined the crime scene and found no other bodies. However, they did find one important clue: Lauria’s purse. In it were her driver’s license and nearly $200 in cash. Lorene wondered why her daughter would leave her purse, unless she had been abducted:
The Craig County Sheriff’s Department tried to piece together what happened the night of Ashley’s birthday. If it had been a robbery, the purse would have been taken. And if murder was the motive, who had reason to kill Danny and Kathy Freeman, Ashley’s parents? Danny himself may have had the answer, which he revealed to his brother, Dwayne Vancil:
For months, it had been rumored that the Craig County Sheriff’s Department was feuding with the Freemans. It all began when Danny’s son, Shane, was shot and killed by a deputy after he had stolen a truck and a neighbor’s gun. Shane’s killing was ruled justifiable, but the Freemans threatened to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the sheriff’s department. According to Dwayne, his brother told him the deputies were trying to intimidate him and his family:
When Danny and Kathy Freeman were found dead, the Craig County Sheriff’s Department voluntarily turned the case over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. They also consented to polygraph tests. Special Agent Steve Nutter, of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, said the polygraphs were conclusive:
There was another possibility. Some people said that Danny was a small-time drug trafficker and wondered if a drug deal gone bad had led to the double murder. Agent Nutter discounted that theory:
There was yet another theory: Ashley Freeman murdered her own parents and then fled with Lauria. Captain Jim Herman of the Craig County Sheriff’s Department said he had to consider the possibility:
Agent Nutter doesn’t think the girls were capable of murder:
Jay and Lorene Bible were left with only unanswered questions. Where were Lauria and Ashley and why had they left?
In a bizarre twist no one saw coming, a death row inmate, Jeremy B. Jones, confessed to killing Danny and Kathy Freeman. He said he did it as a favor to a friend over a drug debt. Jones claimed that he took the two girls to Kansas, shot them, and threw their bodies into an abandoned mine. A search of the mine, however, turned up nothing. Jones then recanted his confession and denied he killed the girls. He said he lied to authorities to get better food and extra phone privileges in prison.
Investigators are now back to square one.
UPDATE: Ronnie Dean Busick, 66, was arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of arson. Two other suspects have been named, but both are deceased: Warren Phillip Welch II and David A. On July 15, 2020, Busick pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of accessory to murder in an agreement with prosecutors. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison with five years probation. Investigators are still requesting any tips that may lead to the remains of Ashley and Lauria.
Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season eleven with Robert Stack and in season two with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.SUBMIT A TIP
If he acted alone. How did the girls not hear the shotgun. If they heard it they would of ran out of the house. If he takes them first someone had to hear that as well. Then kill the parents. None of it makes sense
Jenny from the Block
Two big questions pop into my mind after reading this.
(1) How is it that two people with no criminal or forensic investigatory background whatsoever just happen to find two major pieces of evidence at a crime scene (Danny’s body and Lauria’s purse)? A body is a bit hard to miss, for even the most novice of investigators.
(2) The person who was eventually charged – why wasn’t the location of the girls bodies part of any agreement made between him and the State?
I just got done reading this story. Look into people that know Ronnie Busick. I truely believe that Ronnie is the key to everything here and there are people close to him that know something soo get in touch with them. I feel like other people around these 3 men are also responcible for what all happend. The girls were probably taken and tortured by the people involved with drugs and Ronnie Busick knows where they are buried. I can see another man being apart of this story that Busick and the other 2 deceased men did business with that also knows where the girls were taken and abused and buried. The police know more than what they are leading on because of the run ins with the family that was murdered. There is a part missing information wise in this case and if that part came about because of the people involved the girls bodies would be found if someone talked to this person that was apart of this group with all the drugs. Investigators need to talk to these people that were apart of this years ago. If someone came forward with a high reward money amount someone would talk because money makes people talk.
I find it suspicious the day Lauria goes to sleep over, all this goes down. Maybe the girls did have something to do with Kathy and Danny’s death. They themselves might not have committed the crime, but maybe they had some help. It is weird why $200 was left, maybe they forgot it. But that is a lot of money for a 16 yo. Maybe for drugs or a hit job? A lot of different scenarios could have happened. I just find it strange the night Lauria sleeps over, this plan is executed and the girls are never found….hmmm. Maybe they ran away to get away from their problems. Ashley did not get along well with her father and her brother was wrongly murdered. And Lauria and Ashley were very close, maybe Ashley was very convincing/dominant with Lauria to help her execute this plan.
This always has been on my mind wondering what happen to the girls cause i was their age when this happened. Its so hard to believe nobody saw or heard nothing for 16 years someone knows and one day the truth will come out about what really happened on that tragic night. The parents was shot with a shotgun make me guess the crime was done by someone local who has killed before they should look at all the criminals in that area during that time with records see do they know something. Its just sad for the families to be still dealing with that pain..
any updates on this??
Here is the latest from earlier this year: http://kfor.com/2016/01/25/new-leads-in-search-of-oklahoma-girls-missing-since-1999/
this case already been solved look upcronnie busick
I’m watching unsolved mysteries here in the U.K this is awful.Sounds to me like the Sheriffs Dept are corrupted when someone said if anything should happen to them they had to look at the sheriffs’ Department
Crystal D Delgado
I live in Oklahoma and you never know with Oklahoma PD what is going on
$200 seems like a lot of money for a young girl to be carrying around in her purse in 1999 (or even now). Any explanation for that?
Harry L Byrn
Lauria would come ride our horse with my niece and show live stock with her, we thought of her as family and this still haunts us until that one person finally speaks up. Someone / anyone one with knowledge needs to come forword.
They had a lead a few days ago that the girls were in a well. The guy that owned the house when the girls went missing was Later convicted of a unrelated murder. They did not find anything and scene was released. There is a Facebook page called find lauria bible
I was wondering if there are any updates? Any new leads? This story is so troubling and so bizarre. I wish the parents had some closure.
Nope they just came up empty on the last lead that acted on so still searching
Any updates on the two missing girls?