AP NEWS

Community remembers Oklahoma girls missing for 20 years

December 31, 2019 GMT

VINITA, Okla. (AP) — A community in northeastern Oklahoma held a candlelight vigil to remember the lives of two girls who went missing more than two decades ago.

Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman were 16 years old when they disappeared. About 200 people attended a vigil on Monday night and remembered the girls with a slideshow, songs, prayers, speeches and a balloon release, the Tulsa World reported.

Lauria was spending the night at Ashley’s family home in Craig County after celebrating Ashley’s birthday. Investigators believe that in the early hours of Dec. 30, 1999, Ashley’s parents, Danny and Kathy Freeman, were killed and their home was set on fire. Ashley and Lauria have never been found.

During Monday’s vigil, Lauria’s parents, Lorene and Jay Bible, thanked the community and friends who have stood by the them for the last 20 years.

“Based on the word of God, there is going to be a reunion,” said Ken Brodrick, a Bible family member. “Mark my words: There is going to be a reunion. There is not even a person sitting in the Craig County jail that can stop it.”

Ronnie Busick, a suspect in the slayings of Danny and Kathy Freeman and the kidnapping and presumed deaths of the teens, is in the county jail. Busick is slated to come back to court in February when his preliminary hearing date will be set.

Investigators believe Busick and two other men, Warren Phillip Welch II and David Pennington, shot Ashley’s parents and kidnapped the girls. Authorities think the men held the girls captive for days, raping them repeatedly before killing them.

Busick has denied any involvement or knowledge of the whereabouts of the girls’ remains. Welch and Pennington have since died.

All of the speakers at the gathering encouraged people to come forward with any information they might have. Agent Tammy Ferrari with Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said that “no lead is too small.”