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Where are Ashley Freeman & Lauria Bible?

Updated: May 10

"I'll meet with the Devil himself." - Lorene Bible

Lauria Jaylene Bible and Ashley Renae Freeman

Listen to our 6 part Mini Series called "In The Wind: Where are Ashley Freeman & Lauria Bible" on Patreon now at All episodes will be avaible on any streaming platform starting December 19th.

Occupation: Students

Date of Birth: (Lauria) April 18, 1983, (Ashley) December 30, 1983

Height: (Lauria) 5’5” (Ashley) 5'7"

Weight: (Lauria) 130 lbs. (Ashley) 145 lbs.

Marital Status: (Lauria) Single (Ashley) In a relationship with Jeremy Hurst

Characteristics: Both are Caucasian females. Lauria has brown hair, hazel eyes, a mole under her nose, a scar on her head, and pierced ears, Ashley has dark blonde hair, blue eyes, a scar on the upper left side of her forehead, and an athletic build.

Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible were an unlikely pair of best friends. Ashley, a spirited tomboy, reveled in hunting, fishing, and tending to farm animals. Lauria, on the other hand, embodied the vivacity of a cheerleader, always at the center of everything, and equally devoted to her own menagerie of farm animals. Despite their contrasting personalities, their bond was unbreakable.

In their early years, the girls lived a mere two miles apart, and their regular playdates quickly forged an inseparable connection. Even when Lauria’s family relocated to Vinita during high school, the distance didn’t dampen their friendship. Every school break and countless weekends were spent together, creating memories that would last a lifetime.

On December 29, 1999, Ashley celebrated her sixteenth birthday alongside Lauria, her parents Danny and Kathy Freeman, and her boyfriend, Jeremy Hurst. The festivities took place at the Freemans’ mobile home in Vinita, Oklahoma. After Jeremy departed around 9:30 PM, the girls focused on preparing for a livestock showing—an essential part of their involvement in the FFA (Future Farmers of America) and the 4-H club. Ashley tended to her two goats, Jack and Jill, while Lauria cared for her two pigs and a lamb.

Tragically, during the night or early morning hours of December 30, 1999, a fire engulfed the Freemans’ mobile home. A concerned neighbor, en route to work, dialed 911 at approximately 5:50 AM. The Welch Volunteer Fire Department arrived 20 minutes later, battling the flames for 1 to 3 hours until the trailer succumbed to the water pressure.

Law enforcement swiftly arrived at the scene. Sheriff George Vaughn, Undersheriff Mark Hayes, LT. Jim Herman, Investigator Charles Cozart, and Deputy Troy Messick assessed the devastation. Dewayne Vancil, Danny Freeman’s stepbrother and Ashley’s uncle, arrived after receiving the distressing news. The undersheriff led him to a body they had discovered—initially assumed to be Kathy Freeman, Ashley’s mother. The gruesome scene revealed a shattered skull, burned upper back and buttocks, and missing feet and lower legs. Bricks lay scattered around the body, suggesting a violent end.

Curiously, all three cars—the white 1990 GMC flatbed truck belonging to Danny, the silver 1998 Toyota Corolla driven by Kathy, and Lauria’s blue 1989 Chevy Cavalier—remained parked outside. How could Danny have abducted the girls without using any of the vehicles?

Despite the urgency of the situation, no BOLO (Be On the Lookout) alert was issued, and the missing girls were not entered into the database. The investigation took a grim turn when an autopsy revealed that Kathy had been shot to death. Arson investigators confirmed that the fire was intentionally set, using accelerants.

Police theorized that Danny Freeman was responsible for Kathy’s murder and the abduction of Ashley and Lauria. But the mystery deepened: where were the girls, and how had they vanished without a trace?

As the sun rose, Lauria’s brother, Brad, urgently contacted Lorene Bible, Lauria’s mother, with devastating news—the Freeman home was ablaze. The tragedy had only just begun, leaving a community in shock and two families desperate for answers.

When the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) noticed Lauria Bible’s car at the scene, Deputy Troy Messick drove from Welch to downtown Vinita to find Lauria’s mother, Lorene Bible. At her workplace, he delivered the grim news: “Do you know Ashley Freeman?” Lorene confirmed that Ashley was Lauria’s best friend and that Lauria had stayed over at the Freemans’ home the previous night. However, the house had been consumed by fire. Lorene immediately contacted her husband, Jay, and together, they rushed to the Freeman residence.

Arriving at 9:15 AM, Jay and Lorene found the driveway blocked by deputies. They remained there for the next ten agonizing hours. Around 10-11 AM, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), led by Steve Nutter, arrived. Nutter had come from the neighboring Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, where he was working on another case. The OSBI eventually called the county coroner.

Assistant District Attorney Clint Ward also appeared on the scene, sharing unsettling information with bystanders. He claimed that Danny Freeman, Ashley’s father, owed significant drug-related debts and was the prime suspect. The situation grew more distressing when Medical Examiner Donna Warren arrived. Although she couldn’t definitively identify the body as Kathy Freeman’s, she noticed a wedding band on the left hand and signs of having borne children—enough for Lorene to recognize her daughter’s mother.

By 4 PM, Kathy’s body had been removed from the scene. At 5 PM, the OSBI concluded their investigation, releasing the crime scene to Dewayne Vancil. Strangely, despite the tragedy, no BOLO (Be On the Lookout) alert had been issued for Danny Freeman and the missing girls. As the authorities departed, a civilian search party returned with horses and four-wheelers, scouring the property—but their efforts yielded no answers.

The mystery deepened, leaving a community desperate for resolution and two families forever changed by the inexplicable disappearance of Ashley and Lauria.

Check the episode to hear Lorene tell us about finding Danny.

Kathy Freeman, a devoted stay-at-home mom, and Danny Freeman, who worked diligently, lived an ordinary life. However, Danny had faced a near-fatal incident in his youth: accidentally shooting himself in the forehead while cleaning a rifle. The breech plug from the muzzleloader barrel lodged in his brain, leading to emergency brain surgery where part of his skull was replaced with bone from his hip.

Tragedy struck on December 30, 1999. Lauria’s parents, Lorene and Jay, returned to the Freemans’ burned-down home, hoping for answers. To their shock, they discovered another body—burned beyond recognition. It was Danny’s; he had also been shot at close range with a shotgun.

Ashley and Lauria were nowhere to be found among the remains. However, a crucial clue emerged during a subsequent search: Lauria’s purse, containing her driver’s license and $200, was left behind. This suggested that the girls might have been abducted, ruling out robbery as a motive.

Shane Freeman - January 8, 1999

Three months before Danny’s death, he had warned Dewayne Vancil to investigate the Craig County Sheriff’s Department if anything happened to him. The feud between the department and the Freemans began when Danny’s son, Shane, was fatally shot by a deputy after stealing a truck and a neighbor’s gun. Although the shooting was deemed justifiable, Danny had planned to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the department. The sheriff’s deputies cooperated with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) and passed polygraph tests, ultimately ruling out their involvement.

Dewayne Vancil, out of town in Branson, MO, returned home to find his truck covered in mud and nearly empty. His nephew, Shane, had broken into the house, taken the truck keys, and caused trouble. Shane was confronted and reported to the sheriff’s office by his parents. A tour of the jail served as a “Scared Straight” intervention, temporarily straightening Shane’s behavior.

Key Dates:

  • August 20, 1998: Shane’s telephone privileges were revoked after he stole a telephone cord. Danny allegedly disciplined him severely.

  • September 2, 1998: An arrest warrant was issued for Danny on charges of injuring a minor child (felony).

  • October 20, 1998: Shane testified in court during the preliminary hearing.

  • November 6, 1998: Shane turned 17, marking a pivotal moment in the family’s troubled history.

  • January 4, 1999: Shane has been staying with friends. He takes his friend's truck without permission along with a large gun (his friend claims not to know where the gun came from). He showed up at his grandma's house and begged her for her car keys claiming someone was going to kill him. He wouldn't tell her who. He eventually said, "They're going to kill me if I don't get somewhere." His grandma handed him the keys and he took off.

  • What followed was a 4 day long crime spree earning the name "The Red Light Bandit." pg 91-97 in Hell in the Heartland

Initial Theories:

  • Drug Trafficking Angle: Some speculated that Danny Freeman was involved in small-time drug trafficking. An informant claimed he had met with two unidentified men shortly before the murders. However, this theory didn’t align with the girls’ disappearance—why would the killers abduct them instead of killing them on the spot?

  • Friction Between Ashley and Danny: Another theory suggested that Ashley might have killed her parents due to tension with Danny. However, authorities found it unlikely that the girls could have hidden for long if this were the case. Lauria’s family also dismissed the idea that either girl was capable of murder.

Missing Girls and Clues:

  • No Traces Found: Despite extensive efforts, no trace of Lauria or Ashley has ever been discovered. A $50,000 reward remains in place for information leading to their whereabouts.

  • Confessions and Rulings: Investigators explored leads from Tommy Lee Sells and Jeremy Jones, both of whom confessed to killing the girls. However, they were eventually ruled out as suspects.

  • New Year’s Eve Party and Alleged Photos: Witnesses claimed to have seen the girls at a New Year’s Eve party. Additionally, there were rumors of photos showing the girls tied up and in distress, although these images never surfaced. Witnesses suggested that the girls were held hostage and violated for about a week after their disappearance, possibly in a home owned by Phil Welch in Picher, OK.

The Overlooked Clue:

  • Insurance Verification Card: A breakthrough came when investigators stumbled upon a box of documents. Among them was an insurance verification card—an overlooked clue. Private investigator Tom Pryor had found the card in the Freemans’ driveway days after the murders. It led him to a woman living with local drug dealer Phil Welch.

  • Welch’s Connection: Welch’s girlfriend confirmed that the card was hers but didn’t know why it was at the Freemans’ home. She revealed that Phil Welch knew the Freemans.

  • Evidence Ignored: Astonishingly, investigators didn’t treat the card as evidence. Pryor held onto it for nearly two decades, hoping for a breakthrough.

No trace of Lauria or Ashley has ever been found. There is a $50,000 reward offered in this case.

Over the years, investigators honed in on two individuals who would later be convicted of unrelated killings: Tommy Lee Sells and Jeremy Jones. Both had confessed to killing the girls but were eventually ruled out as suspects.

Witnesses claimed they saw the girls at a New Year’s Eve party, adding to the mystery. Additionally, there were persistent rumors of photos showing the girls tied up and in distress. Although these photos never surfaced, witnesses suggested that the girls were held hostage and violated for about a week after their disappearance. Allegedly, this took place in a home owned by Phil Welch in Picher, OK.

A crucial breakthrough occurred when investigators stumbled upon a box of documents. Among them was an insurance verification card—an overlooked clue. Private investigator Tom Pryor had found the card in the Freemans’ driveway days after the murders. It led him to a woman living with local drug dealer Phil Welch.

Despite its significance, investigators didn’t treat the card as evidence. Pryor held onto it for nearly two decades, hoping for a breakthrough.

Then, one day, Gary Stansill from the District 12 D.A.'s office and Tammy Ferrari from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation knocked on Pryor’s door. The overlooked clue finally helped turn the tide in the case.

"I call it a miracle," says Stansill.

The Miracle Breakthrough:

  • Gary Stansill and Tammy Ferrari: Gary Stansill from the District 12 D.A.'s office and Tammy Ferrari from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation

  • Welch and Associates: Investigators later alleged that Phil Welch, along with associates David Pennington and Ronnie Busick, murdered Ashley’s parents over a drug debt. They then kidnapped the teens, ultimately killing them.

  • Busick’s Survival: Of the three men, only Ronnie Busick is still alive.

  • Phil Welch’s Link: The insurance card tied Welch to the Freemans. It should have been crucial evidence, but it was overlooked.

  • Generating Leads: Stansill deliberately crafted a detailed affidavit to generate leads. The physical evidence from the card became pivotal in building a case against Ronnie Busick.

In 2020, Ronnie Dean Busick (pictured above) pleaded guilty to being an accessory to first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of the two adults and the presumed slayings of the girls. Busick also revealed the involvement of two others in the crime: Warren “Phil” Welch and David Pennington (both deceased by then). Investigators believe that this trio killed the Freemans over a drug debt.

Polaroids as Evidence: Multiple sources corroborated the existence of Polaroid photos showing the girls bound and gagged, providing crucial evidence in the case.

Arrest pg* 257, chapter 28 in Hell in the Heartland

"I feel like if someone starts shootin' at me, I must be getting close." - Lorene Bible


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