It’s been nearly two decades since a couple was murdered in 1999 and two teen girls went missing. Now, there appears to be a break in the case and it reveals that a dozen people kept quiet about the murders and abductions for years.
Ronnie Dean Busick, 66, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of first-degree arson on Monday, according to the Associated Press.
Danny and Kathy Freeman were shot to death inside their Welch, Oklahoma mobile home just one day before New Year’s Eve in 1999. The home then was set on fire, an attempt to cover up their shooting deaths. Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman, both 16, went missing the very same day. Bible was sleeping over at the Freemans the night of the shooting. They were supposed to be celebrating a happy occasion: Ashley’s birthday.
Two other men, who have since died, were allegedly in on the murders with Busick, according to District Attorney Matt Ballard, the Associated Press reported. Police believe Busick was working in cahoots with the late Warren Phillip "Phil" Welch II, and David A. Pennington, according to KFOR in Oklahoma City.
What pushed the case forward? Apparently, a recently uncovered box of notes and documents in an office crate.
“Craig County Sheriff Heath Winfrey has provided investigators previous(ly) unknown notes and documents he discovered referencing the Freeman/Bible case that was left from the previous sheriff administration,” Gary Stansill, District 12 District Attorney’s Office investigator told Tulsa World.
Winfrey found the crate in a closet after she was moved into the Sheriff’s Office in 2017.
“You don’t think finding something like that in a crate would push the case forward this much,” Winfrey told Tulsa World late last year. “You just don’t think in a million years it would turn out leads like it did.”
Those interviews led to the arrest of Busick, according to KFOR.
Most of the people interviewed were former roommates of the three accused men. All of the witnesses accused the trio of bragging about the murders and also of threatening to kill anyone who went to the cops. Documents in the crate contained names of people who were interviewed. In all there were 12 people that appeared to have kept quiet for years despite knowing that the three men allegedly killed the family. Welch and Pennington allegedly cooked methamphetamine together, according to the interviewees and they allegedly the Freemans over drug money.
One interviewee, an unidentified woman told police that she overheard the men say that they had “taken the two girls that were missing from Welch with them and eventually killed them,” according to KFOR. Some witnesses told police the girls were thrown in a pit, others claimed they heard they were thrown down a mine shaft. The two teens’ bodies have yet to be found but the arrest of Busick is giving hope to the community that there may soon be some form of closure in the future.
[Photo: Oklahoma State Bureau Of Investigation]