Inside Edition reports that an arrest has been made in a nearly 20-year-old cold case involving the murder of two teenage girls. Eighteen years ago, two teenagers vanished after a fire destroyed the Oklahoma home where they were staying. The parents of one of the teens perished in the fire.
Police have arrested one of the three men they say took the girls and tortured them for days before killing them.
Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible were both 16 on Dec. 29, 1999, when they were last seen alive. They were celebrating Ashley’s birthday with a sleepover at her home.
First responders to the fire the next morning could tell immediately that things went terribly wrong the evening before. The bodies of Ashley’s parents were found in the burned mobile home, and an accelerant was placed near the wood-burning stove. Both of them had been shot in the head, according to the medical examiner.
Lauria’s car was found in front of the home with the keys in the ignition. Her purse, which contained money, was found in the remains of the home.
On Monday, authorities announced an arrest in the 18-year-old case.
According to police, Ronnie Dean Busick, Warren Philip “Phil” Welch II and David A. Pennington went to the home in the early hours of Dec. 30, 1999 to either sell drugs to the parents or settle a drug debt with them. Police say the teens walked in on them unexpectedly, were taken to a trailer and beaten and raped repeatedly. They were then strangled and dumped in an undisclosed location.
Welch possessed photographs of the girls tied up and lying on a bed facing each other. It was apparent in the photos they were being held against their will and were emaciated. In some of these photos, Welch was laying next to the girls.
Although the photos have not been recovered, multiple witnesses claim to have seen them.
The photos were found with an insurance card next to the road near the home days after the 1999 murders. The insurance card belonged to Welch’s girlfriend’s car at the time, which Welch was known to drive frequently.
Police believe Welch masterminded the entire thing and shot Ashley’s parents. Pennington and Busick allegedly ignited the home fire.
Welch threatened many people who knew things about the murders to keep quiet. He died in 2007. Pennington died in 2015.
In 2017, Busick admitted his connection to Welch and Pennington, but denied involvement in the crimes.
Busick, 66, was arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder and malice aforethought, four counts of accessory to first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping, one count of arson and one count of accessory to first-degree arson.
The bodies of the girls have not been recovered, but some witnesses were told they were dumped in a mine shaft that was later covered in concrete.
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