A new search for the remains of Lauria Bible & Ashley Freeman is taking place in the town of Picher, Oklahoma. Both girls were 16 years old when they disappeared on December 30, 1999.
The renewed search is happening at a property that once belonged to David Pennington, one of the suspects in the case.
Investigators believe Pennington, along with Phil Welch and Ronnie Busick, came over to the Freeman residence on December 30, 1999, killed Ashley’s parents, kidnapped the girls, then set the house on fire.
They believe Lauria and Ashley were likely kept alive for several days in Picher, before being strangled and dumped in an undisclosed location.
In July of 2020, Ronnie Busick pleaded guilty to accessory accessory to murder in the first degree and entered a plea agreement to help investigators find the girls’ remains. The other two suspects in the case, Pennington and Welch, are both dead.
Busick pointed investigators to the location in Picher, about 30 miles away from the crime scene, where investigators searched for the bodies, but came up with nothing.
The property, located at 629 South Ottawa St, once belonged to Pennington, who moved into a mobile home there in January 2000.
On October 8, 2021, multiple agencies returned to the property in a renewed search for the girls’ remains.
Declared the most toxic city in America by the Environmental Protection Agency, Picher was designated a superfund site, with residents evacuating in the 2000s.
The location is about three blocks away from Welch’s mobile home, where investigators believe the girls were tortured and held captive for two weeks before being murdered.
Busick was sentenced to ten years in prison, with five years of probation if he could assist investigators in finding the girls’ body before August 31, 2020.
Disappearance of Lauria Bible & Ashley Freeman
Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible, both 16 years old, were last seen in Welch, Oklahoma on December 30, 1999.
They disappeared from Freeman family’s home after spending the night together celebrating Ashley’s sixteenth birthday.
On December 30, 1999, a passerby called 911 reporting that the Freemans’ mobile home was engulfed in flames at approximately 5:30 am. Emergency responders rushed to the Freeman home and found the charred remains of Ashley’s mother inside.
Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible were nowhere to be seen, and haven’t been heard from since.
Lauria’s vehicle was found parked in the driveway of the home, with the keys in the ignition. Her purse was found in the rubble.
Authorities determined the cause of the fire to be arson, with an accelerant found near the home’s wood-burning stove.
Ashley’s mother was found lying on the floor near the waterbed with a gunshot wound in the back of her head. Her father’s remains were not initially found, and authorities suspected him of murdering his wife and fleeing with the girls on that evening.
On December 31, 1999, a second body was discovered around the rubble, and was soon determined to be that of Ashley’s father. He also presented with a gunshot wound in the head.
The search for the remains of Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman is ongoing.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible please contact the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation at (800) 522-8017.