WELCH - Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible vanished nine years ago today.
Lauria Bible, and Ashley Freeman, both 16, disappeared Dec. 30, 1999. That was the night Danny Freeman, 40, and his wife Kathy, 38, were killed and their home set on fire.
The last trace of the 16-year-old best friends was a scent police dogs picked up that led across the Freeman yard to a dirt road in rural Craig County.
Hundreds of thousands of fliers have been distributed across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Leads have been followed up, but the girls remain missing.
“There is no closure when no bodies are found,” Craig County Sheriff Jimmie Sooter said.
The investigation has been thorough, leading authorities to several places over the years, he said.
The girls were reported missing on Dec. 30, 1999, the day Ashley’s parents, Danny and Kathy Freeman, were found shot to death in the charred remains of their Welch mobile home.
Both families believe the girls are dead.
“I don’t think she is alive,” said Celeste Chandler, Ashley Freeman’s grandmother. “I couldn’t handle it if she was mistreated — but I need to know where she is.”
Lorena Bible, Lauria’s mother, said, “We just take one day at a time.”
For years, the Bibles left their family Christmas tree standing, waiting for Lauria to return home and take it down.
The tree fell down on its own a couple of years ago, she said.
Who was responsible?
Oklahoma law enforcement officials have said convicted murderer Jeremy Jones confessed to killing Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible and throwing their bodies into an abandoned mine near Galena, Kan. A search in June 2005 turned up nothing.
A former construction worker from Miami, Jones also confessed to killing Danny and Kathy Freeman and several other people whose slayings have remained unsolved, authorities said. Jones has denied to the media any involvement in the homicides.
Jones is on death row in Alabama, convicted in the 2004 rape and death of Lisa Marie Nichols, 44, of Turnerville, Ala.
“I know what he told me personally,” Sooter said. “My conclusion is that he did it. We have no proof of it, but with the information he gave us, he is the only person who could have known what happened that night.”
Lorena Bible and Chandler have their doubts that Jones is the killer.
“I think he was at the Freemans’ house that night, but I think he went wacko and was kicked out of the truck or car,” Bible said. “He doesn’t know where they are, but he does know something.”
Chandler said the names of three people who have criminal histories were given to her by a private investigator who has since left the area. She thinks one or all of them were involved.
Because the three people have never been charged, their names are not public record.
Private investigator met with authorities and gave them information about the girls, but they would not work with him, Chandler said.
The private investigator was never paid because he was counting on receiving a $50,000 reward offered after the girls’ disappearance. The $50,000 reward is still available, both families said.
Bible also thinks the three were involved and she said she visited one of the men while he was in a Tulsa jail.
“He told me he didn’t kill the girls, but I think he knows who did,” Bible said. The man Bible spoke to is now in the federal prison at El Reno.
“We have been through all of this before and, to my knowledge, we have no proof that they (the three men) were involved,” Sooter said.