Arrest made in 18-year-old case of missing girls; 12 people remained silent about disappearances, report says

An arrest has been made in connection with the 1999 disappearance of Oklahoma teens Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible and the shooting death of Freeman’s parents.

KOKI reported that Ronnie Dean Busick, 66, one of the three men suspected to have been involved in the cold case, was arrested Sunday in Newton, Kansas. He’s currently facing four counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of arson.

A newly released affidavit alleged that Busick, along with Warren Philip “Phil” Welch II and David A. Pennington, had reportedly come to the Freemans’ Welch home between December 30 and 31, shot Danny and Kathy Freeman in the head, and lit their mobile home on fire. The men allegedly then abducted the two 16-year-olds.

Bible was reportedly at the Freeman residence on the night in question to celebrate Ashley’s birthday.

The 30-page document, which can be read in full below, stated that the men possibly went to the home to sell drugs when one of the teens walked in. Other witnesses claimed the slayings were carried out because of a drug debt.

Witnesses reportedly told police that the girls were held in a trailer—where they were tortured, starved, and raped for several days. Welch is said to have taken 10 to 15 pictures of the girls “lying on a bed, facing each other, with their hands tied and their mouths gagged,” and tied to chairs.

The men reportedly bragged about strangling Bible and Ashley then discarding their bodies “in a pit in Picher.” Despite their admission, the teens’ bodies have yet to be discovered.

Welch died in 2007, while Pennington died in 2015, according to Inside Edition. Records obtained by Tulsa World indicated that Busick has been in and out of jail since the 1999 murders for drug-related offenses.

Welch was arrested in Kansas for three offenses—attempted aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, and making a terroristic threat—in 1993. Tulsa World reported that Welch was arrested multiple times in Oklahoma following the 1999 murders.

READ More: Can you help solve this cold case? Reward offered to solve murder of parents, missing teens

KFOR reported that at least 12 people claimed to have known or have seen evidence of the men’s crimes but decided to stay silent and not go to police. Two women, one who lived with Pennington and the other who lived with Welch—said they heard the men talk about the murders and the missing girls on several occasions. The woman who lived with Pennington claimed he threatened to kill her if she left him.

“Somebody knows where these girls are,” Lorene Bible, Lauria’s mother, told reporters, according to Inside Edition.

“And for me, I need to bring my daughter home.”

[Featured Image: Lauria Bible, Ashley Freeman/National Center for Missing and Exploited Children]