So, last night I did a big update to the casefiles of Ashley Renae Freeman and Lauria Jaylene Bible, slipping them in under the bar just before midnight. I explain about what happened to them, and the witness statements from the court docs and so on.
I’d been putting this off for a long time but I just couldn’t anymore, now that Ronnie Busick, the only surviving suspect in the case, has been sentenced. I had been putting off the update because the details are just so horrible.
I may have said it before but I will say it again. I will never say that Danny and Kathy Freeman deserved to be murdered, because they didn’t. But I can’t help but think they bear some responsibility for what happened to the girls, even though by that point they were dead already.
When you get involved with using/selling illegal drugs and the kind of people who are deeply involved in that world, you are taking great personal risk. Danny and Kathy presumably knew this. They gambled anyway, and lost. Which is sad. However, Ashley and Lauria were just bystanders, children, innocent. They were NOT involved in the drug world, did NOT accept that personal risk, and wound up paying a far heavier price than the Freeman parents did.
I’m not sure which makes me angrier, that or the fact that Phil Welch and David Pennington died before they could face justice. (Though it’s said that Welch died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a horrible way to go, and if you ask me it couldn’t have happened to a better man.)
Or, maybe what makes me angriest is the fact that if the police hadn’t initially bungled the case so badly, it could have been solved in 2000, well before Welch and Pennington died. Who knows, perhaps the girls could have even been rescued. But instead two innocent young women died after being held captive and brutalized, and two vile men got away with murder. Four murders.
And Ronnie Busick will only serve ten years for his role in what happened, so he practically got away with it as well. But he is 68, and doesn’t appear to be healthy, and given what I know of his history (drug use throughout most of his life, and he got shot in the head and was left with brain damage) and what I know about prison health care, I wonder if he will be alive ten years from now.
According to Jax Miller in the recent book “Hell in the Heartland”:
Danny Freeman once accidentally shot himself in the head and had to give up working as a welder.
The trailer did have running water, but it came from the adjacent creek and wasn’t safe for drinking.
The Freemans had a valuable collection of Native American arrowheads in display boxes. No trace of the arrowheads or boxes turned up in the remains of the trailer.
Lauria’s partially burned pajama top was found at the scene.
The police did an horrible job by despite or vengeance. It was all under their nose, they didn’t even care enough to find one of the bodies after the fire. And those poor girls were captives for days. It makes me so mad.
Meth is a monster. Do we know for sure Danny and Kathy were into that, or is that one methhead trying to put the best spin he can on it by painting his victims with the same brush?
Some anger should be reserved for the people who knew what had happened and never said a word, not even when Welch and then Pennington were dead.
The police did botch it badly and I think the Freemans kind of unsavory reputation and the business with their son had a big part in that.
If the bodies are in Picher it will be very hard to find them. The town was a ghost town even at the time because of being contaminated with mine waste and only a few people still lived there, and then about ten years later a tornado came through and cleared it all out.
One thing is for sure with this case. It shows that even having a houseful of guns didn’t do the Freemans any good. People like that who pile up weapons like they expect WWIII to break out in their house always seem so sure they can shoot their way out of any kind of trouble that comes to visit.
The stuff about meth didn’t come from just Busick. Multiple witnesses that Welch and Pennington told about the murders all reported the same thing: it was a drug deal/drug debt and the girls walked in on it at the worst possible time.
I like that the three offenders told others about wh as they did, and those people kept their mouth shut for all these years.
It would be nice to charge them with concealing homicides. But, then the prisons would be crowded.
It’s not illegal to simply not report something you know about a crime. Obstruction of justice requires actively covering up a crime, not just keeping silent.
I came a story on the local Patch online news. The story is about a podcast interview by a criminal profiler of Dellmus Colvin, a former long haul trucker serving life in Ohio.
He has admitted to killing at least 7 sex workers. He admitted in the interview of dumping the remains of another victim in LaSalle County, Illinois, at an abandoned truck wash.
He supposedly dumped her clothes in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
He was active from 1987 to 2005, and claims to have murdered between 42 and 59 women, in that time period. He is admitting to crimes in non death penalty states.
One thing that has always unsettled me since learning who was responsible is how Ashley would have felt in those final days. She must have felt incredible guilt for asking Lauria over for a sleepover. I wonder if she ever got to say sorry. I wonder if Lauria ever said that she forgave her.
I’m sure Lauria realized this wasn’t Ashley’s fault. I’m sure she told her that before they died. They lived for several days at least.
I feel so bad for Lauria’s parents. They let their daughter spend the night with her best friend, and it was the worst mistake of their lives.
Very well said, I agree with everything you say.
I wonder to what extent the the parents’ drug usage played in what happened. It’s known that he grew/smoked pot and they may have used meth/speed some. However bad it can do to its users, it’s cheap stuff. It’s really cheap now and that’s with someone having to run across the border to get it. I (perhaps incorrectly) just assumed that it would be even cheaper if made in a local lab.
I read those court documents and some of the news (a “timeline” with links to many stories about what happened). Since Welch was one of their few neighbors, the “drug debt” sounds like an excuse he came up with. And it sounds like the one that lasted long enough to go to prison did way less than the dead ones. Meth can make you do crazy/stupid things, but i don’t see how a late payment could lead to so much rape, murder and pain. That takes evil people that are just bad at the core to start with before they got their speed issues going.
Also, they might start getting somewhere with the group of unsolved crimes in my neck of the woods (disappearance of Crystal Rogers, murder of her father, murder of deputy Jason Ellis and murder of mother/daughter teacher Netherland).
The FBI are now involved instead of just our local LE – who are connected to (if not involved in) three of those killings. They’ve found bones on land belonging to Crystal’s boyfriend’s family which I’m pretty sure has already been searched. Apparently, they are from a female that could be anywhere from 25 to 85. And when describing the area involved, they’ve been “off” as in being too vague to the point of just being incorrect. They say that the road where the farm/remains were found is on the Nelson/Washington line. It’s really the Nelson/Marion line. They technically all border each other somewhere, but it’s weird that they’ve announced that several times since the bones were found.
It’s sad that this happen the way it did and the girls died that way. Everybody got what they deserved.