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Thread: Disappearance of 2 Welch, Oklahoma Girls Still Unsolved?

  1. #1

    ice Disappearance of 2 Welch, Oklahoma Girls Still Unsolved?

    WELCH, OK -- It was nine years ago on Tuesday that two Welch teenagers disappeared without a trace.
    Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible disappeared the same night Ashley's parents were murdered and the family's home was set on fire.
    Over the years, investigators have followed hundreds of leads, but there has never been any sign of the girls, who were 16 when they disappeared.
    Craig County Sheriff Jimmie Sooter says death row inmate Jeremy Jones confessed to him to killing the girls, but their bodies have never been found and Jones has never been prosecuted.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Disappearance of 2 Welch, Oklahoma Girls Still Unsolved?

    This article was posted in 2008, I wonder if the girls still remain missing.

  3. #3
    perl Guest

    Default Re: Disappearance of 2 Welch, Oklahoma Girls Still Unsolved?

    I don't think they've ever been found. Still a big, strange mystery.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Disappearance of 2 Welch, Oklahoma Girls Still Unsolved?

    The fire in the house reminded me of the Sodder case somehow, which I read on the Doenetwork back then.

    Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

    Missing Since: December 30, 1999 from Welch, Oklahoma
    Classification: Endangered Missing
    Date Of Birth: April 18, 1983
    Age: 16 years old
    Height and Weight: 5'5, 130 pounds

    Distinguishing Characteristics: Native American female. Brown hair, hazel eyes. Lauria has a mole under her nose and a scar on the top of her head. Her ears are pierced. She is right-handed. Her nickname is Pooh.

    Clothing/Jewelry Description: Possibly a blue shirt, jeans, white tennis shoes or black boots and silver heart-shaped earrings with imbedded diamonds.

    Details of Disappearance

    Lauria spent the evening of December 30, 1999 at her friend Ashley Freeman's trailer home near Welch, Oklahoma to celebrate the latter's birthday. Lorene Bible, Lauria's mother, said that Kathy Freeman, Ashley's mother, took the girls to the Pizza Hut in Vinita, Oklahoma during the evening. Lorene's statement contradicts authorities' belief that Kathy and the girls visited Big Bill's Barbeque in the 350 block of North Wilson Street in Vinita, Oklahoma. The group traveled in Kathy's blue Toyota and picked up feed for the Freemans' livestock, as well as water from Kathy's mother's house.

    The Freemans' trailer did not have running water and was primarily heated by a wood-burning stove in the living room. The family was described as avid hunters and outdoor enthusiasts who enjoyed living in the remote location. The trailer was equipped with telephone service and electricity. There were numerous firearms stockpiled inside the home and Ashley assisted with hunting for food.

    Ashley's boyfriend, Jeremy Hurst, told investigators that he met the women at a local Wal-Mart after their dinner. He gave Ashley a silver chain with a heart-shaped pendant imbedded with her birthstone for her birthday present. Hurst said that he returned to the Freemans' home with the women shortly afterwards. He said that nothing appeared to be amiss and he departed at approximately 9:30 p.m. Ashley's father, Danny Freeman, had relatives over during the evening who claimed that Hurst actually left at 10:30 p.m. Authorities said that no outgoing telephone calls were made from the family's home during the night. Kathy planned to take Ashley to her driver's test the following morning. Lauria had a dental appointment scheduled for the following morning and planned to leave the trailer shortly beforehand.

    A passing motorist reported a fire in the vicinity of the Freemans' residence at approximately 6:00 a.m. the following morning. Authorities discovered Kathy's remains inside the debris during the afternoon. Investigators initially stated that they were positive no other bodies were inside the home and did not secure the location during the overnight hours. Danny was considered the prime suspect in his wife's murder; authorities believed that he may have abducted Ashley and Lauria and traveled elsewhere, but all of the Freemans' vehicles were parked near their home. Lauria's car was also nearby and the keys were inside the ignition. Lorene discovered Lauria's purse propped inside the trailer, but there was no other evidence of the girls at the scene.

    Jay Bible, Lauria's father, discovered Danny's body in the bedroom of the mobile home during the following morning. The Bibles returned to the trailer in an attempt to gather more evidence as to their daughter's whereabouts. Both Danny and Kathy had died as the result of gunshot wounds. Danny's body was partially covered by debris inside the bedroom, explaining why his remains were overlooked. The medical examiner determined that Danny's right collarbone had been fractured prior to the entrance of the fatal wound. The coroner determined that Kathy died at approximately 5:00 a.m. Investigators believe that the fire was intentionally set in an attempt to destroy evidence of the crimes. An extensive search for the girls produced no evidence as to their whereabouts.

    Lorene told reporters that Ashley had been saving her money to purchase a used vehicle in December 1999. Lorene said that she believed Ashley had accumulated $1200 in her savings account. Hurst said that Ashley actually claimed to have saved between $3000 and $4000 for the car. She was employed part-time at Roscoe's, a convenience store in Welch. Hurst said that Ashley did not have a bank account; she kept her money sealed in a Tupperware container in the family's freezer. Authorities were unable to locate any evidence of the cash after the fire. Lorene stated that Ashley and Danny had been arguing earlier in the month regarding the vehicle. She claimed that Ashley wanted to purchase a different car than Danny had desired. Danny reportedly had a violent temper and had been charged with abusing his son, Shane, in 1998. He was acquitted of the charges in 1999. Danny consistently protested the allegations.

    Oklahoma law enforcement officer David Hayes shot and killed the Freemans' son, Shane, in 1998. Hayes was on duty at the time of the incident. Shane was on a country road in possession of a stolen vehicle at the time Hayes encountered him. The car had apparently broken down. Shane allegedly reached behind his back and pulled a gun, prompting Hayes to fire at him. The incident was investigated and Hayes' actions were found to be justified. Hayes and his brother, who is also a law enforcement officer, said they both took polygraph exams after the girls' 1999 disappearances. Neither of them are considered suspects in the investigations. Hayes and his brother have not participated in the active cases. Several of Danny's relatives believe that local law enforcement was behind the murders and the girls' disappearances, but no evidence has been located to support the theory. Freeman family members also believe that Shane was attempting to flee the scene at the time of his death and claim that his autopsy report contradicts the official verdict. Photos of Danny, Kathy and Shane are posted below this case summary.

    There was speculation that Ashley and Lauria were involved in the Freemans' murders after the searches failed to produce evidence as to their whereabouts. Investigators stated that there was nothing in either girl's background to suggest they could be capable of such brutal acts. Authorities disclosed that there were rumors Ashley had been sexually abused, but they were unable to confirm the theories. She was a member of the National Honor Society and Lauria was regarded as an excellent student. Ashley was a member of the Welch High School basketball team, although she was unable to participate in the 1999 season as the result of an ankle injury. Lauria was a cheerleader and planned to become a cosmetologist after her high school graduation. Both girls were viewed as being well-behaved teenagers in 1999.

    The Bible family believes that Danny's alleged marijuana dealing may have triggered the murders and disappearances. They claimed that he may have become involved in something out of his control, which led to the incidents in late December 1999. The Freemans' loved ones theorize that local law enforcement may have played a role in the cases. There is no evidence to suggest either theory is correct. Hayes, the officer who killed Shane, and his brother, who is also a law enforcement officer, said they both took polygraph exams after the girls' disappearances. Neither of them are considered suspects in the investigations. Hayes and his brother have not participated in the active cases.

    Several of the girls' relatives participated in the pilot of the television program What Really Happened in October 2001. The show was not purchased by any of the networks and has never been broadcast. DeAnna Dorsey, a nurse who assisted the Freemans on the night of Shane's death, appeared on the show. A photo of DeAnna is posted below this case summary. Her daughter was a friend of Ashley in 1999. DeAnna was shot and killed at the hospital where was employed shortly after returning from the taping. Authorities said that paranoid schizophrenic Ricky Martin murdered her as a result of his anger about the hospital's decision to downsize. Martin was killed by police shortly after DeAnna's murder. Martin and DeAnna reportedly never met one another. Some people believe that DeAnna's death was connected to the Freemans' murders, but the theory has never been proven.

    Convicted murderer Tommy Lynn Sells wrote a letter to The Joplin Globe in May 2002 and claimed that he was involved in the Freeman/Bible case. Sells stated that he traveled through Welch, Oklahoma during the night of the girls' disappearances. He said that he was returning from St. Louis, Missouri at the time. Sells stated that his memory was clouded by drug usage, but wrote that he "wanted" to remember a fire and the burial locations of the two girls. Authorities said that Sells was considered a possible suspect in the case, but that their investigation was proceeding cautiously. Sells was arrested after fatally stabbing a teenage girl in Del Rio, Texas in late December 1999. He was convicted of her murder, as well as the homicide of another young Texas girl in April 1999. Authorities believe that Sells may be connected to as many as sixteen homicides. Investigators received unconfirmed information that he may have been involved in the 1993 Texas disappearance of Juanita Bardin. He also confessed to murdering Stefanie Stroh, who vanished from Nevada in 1987. Sells has not been charged in connection with any of the cases.

    Jeremy Brian Jones is considered a possible suspect in Ashley and Lauria's disappearances. A photograph of Jones is posted below this case summary. He has been charged with the murders of a teenaged girl and a woman and is a suspect in disappearances and murders in at least six states, including the murder of Patrice Endres and the disappearance of Melinda McGhee. Endres had been missing for eighteen months before her body was found in December 2005. Jones lived in Ottawa County, Oklahoma at the time the girls vanished, and was released from jail at 10:30 p.m. on the night of their disappearances. He left the area in early 2000. Investigators say the murders of Danny and Kathy are similar to the crimes Jones has been charged with; the woman he allegedly killed had been shot to death before being set on fire.

    Investigators questioned Jones about Ashley and Lauria's cases and reported that he confessed to murdering the Ashley's parents and then abducting and killing the girls after they fled the trailer. He suggested investigators look for the girls' remains in a mine shaft near Galena, Kansas. Jones did an interview with the media and denied confessing to anything related to the girls' cases. Police plan to try to verify his statements; they plan to begin looking for Ashley and Lauria's bodies again in July 2005.

    Ashley and Lauria's disappearances remain unsolved

  5. #5

    Default Re: Disappearance of 2 Welch, Oklahoma Girls Still Unsolved?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Disappearance of 2 Welch, Oklahoma Girls Still Unsolved?

    Search of well in Chetopa tied to Oklahoma cold case

    CHETOPA, Kan. — Acting on leads regarding the disappearance of two Oklahoma girls 16 years ago, investigators lowered an underwater camera into a 12-foot well Friday in Chetopa and found nothing at the bottom but wet leaves and a rusty bucket.

    "We were able to determine there were no (human) remains present in the well," Labette County Sheriff Robert Sims said.

    Sims said the district attorney's office in Craig County, Oklahoma, heard that there might be remains at the bottom of the well on vacant property where convicted murderer Charles Krider once lived at 120 N. Seventh St. in Chetopa.

    The sheriff met with representatives of the Craig County district attorney's office and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation at the address Thursday to confirm that there was a well on the property.

    A search of the well was postponed until Friday when the medical examiner's office in Oklahoma City sent an immersible camera to the scene so that a search could be made without disturbing any potential evidence at the bottom of the well.

    The sheriff said a backhoe was brought to the property to lift a concrete cap off the well.

    Ashley Freeman and friend Lauria Bible, both 16, vanished on Dec. 30, 1999, when the Freeman girl's parents, Danny and Kathy Freeman, were slain and their mobile home destroyed by fire.

    The slaying of the Freemans and presumed abduction and murder of their daughter and her friend remain unsolved.

    Krider was convicted nine years ago of the 2004 murder of 57-year-old Judith Shrum, whose partially clothed body was found in a creek under a bridge in southwestern Cherokee County.

    Jessica Brown, public information officer for the OSBI, said the lead investigators were acting on was just one of many received over the years in the Freeman murder case.

    "We don't get our hopes up too much," Brown said. "But we run every lead."

  7. #7

    Default Re: Disappearance of 2 Welch, Oklahoma Girls Still Unsolved?

    Seems like there was an unsolved mystery episode about this too, or something. I can't remember. Too bad they didn't find anything. Glad they were reminded about the case though.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Disappearance of 2 Welch, Oklahoma Girls Still Unsolved?

    'Pot-stirring' gives investigators new leads in cold cases such as missing Welch girls

    Every six months Lorene Bible reminds people of a 17-year-old mystery she’ll never forget. She calls it “stirring the pot,” and if she didn’t do it, she wouldn’t be able to live with herself.
    Bible lost her daughter, Lauria Jaylene Bible, then 16, after a fire destroyed the home of Lauria’s best friend Ashley Renae Freeman on Dec. 30, 1999.
    Lauria was spending the night for Ashley’s 16th birthday.

    Although Freeman’s parents’ bodies were located in the Welch home’s charred remains, Ashley and Lauria were nowhere to be found.
    “For me, I decided early on that I was going to find my child — or I was going to do everything I physically can to do that,” Bible said.

    So Lorene Bible keeps stirring, hoping one day someone will talk and she’ll find her daughter.
    As special agent Tammy Ferrari and investigator Gary Stansill know, the more people are talking either in the media or in their personal lives, the more tips come in to law enforcement, and the more likely the missing person will be found.

    A cold case

    This biggest factor determining whether a case becomes “cold” is the frequency of tips or leads coming in for investigators to follow, said Ferrari, who for four years has been working the case of the missing Welch girls with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
    The National Institute of Justice defines cold cases as those whose leads have been exhausted.

    Ashley and Lauria — now women, if they’re still alive — are among 85 listed missing from Oklahoma on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children list.
    In 2015, there were 460,699 entries for missing children in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center. However, that number may not be the best indicator of how many children are actually missing, as it counts every report of a missing child, including if the same child runs away multiple times. Many missing children also are never reported to authorities, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

    After 17 years, Ashley and Lauria’s case is considered cold, though that status doesn’t necessarily change how law enforcement investigates a case, Ferrari said. After receiving the designation, the biggest difference is investigators may not work on the case daily.
    For instance, she said, if she’s assigned a recent homicide case, she’ll work to solve that case and follow up on tips or leads from her cold cases as time allows.
    “It’s not something we try to let sit around. The cold cases are the ones we definitely want to solve,” Ferrari said.
    She’s noticed that, for whatever reason, when a cold case is rehashed in the media, she begins to receive new tips.

    The Freeman/Bible case

    About a year after Lorene Bible began pot-stirring on her Facebook page, both Ferarri and Stansill — an investigator with the District Attorney’s Office for Craig, Mayes and Rogers counties — said Ashley and Lauria’s case is more active than it’s been in years.
    “I would say that I’m probably more encouraged now than I was at the very beginning of this case,” said Stansill, who’s been working the case since 2011.
    Over the past year, investigators have done a few interviews, at least one inside a prison. Another interview is planned in the coming months. They’ve also hypnotized a possible witness to get information the person couldn’t consciously recall, Ferarri said.

    In early 2016, the two investigators searched an abandoned well at a property in Kansas formerly owned by convicted murderer Charlie Kirder.
    All they found was an old bucket.
    “When the well thing didn’t pan out, we said, ‘OK. That’s one less thing we have to do. That’s one less thing we have to look for,’ ” Stansill said.

    Both investigators think there are people who know about the case but are too afraid to come forward, perhaps because they fear retribution.
    And although the anniversary normally provides investigators with new leads to follow, Bible admitted she doesn’t like the winter. It brings up questions about her daughter’s December disappearance she’d rather not dwell on.
    “Was she cold? Was she hungry? Did she have enough clothes? Then you even get to the part, you know, what would they have done with her?” Bible said.
    She wonders the type of person Lauria would have grown up to become. Would she have been married? Would she have kids? What would she be doing right now?

    As far as Bible sees it, every bit of information — no matter how marginal it may seem — is one piece of a puzzle investigators didn’t have before, and it might be the link that finally brings her and her family closure.
    “Eventually you can put a puzzle together, and it’s solved,” she said.

    Both investigators ask anyone with any information about the case to contact them, even if they’ve previously provided a statement. In the past, some people have thought investigators had the information they’d provided but found out the information wasn’t in the right hands, Stansill said.

    Bible put it this way: “I just ask if there’s somebody out there, that they pick up the phone and they call.”

    Paighten Harkins

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