CHETOPA, Kan. — The latest search for a pair of missing Welch girls turned up empty.
Cameras were used Friday to seach a well on property in Chetopa, Kansas, formerly owned by a convicted murderer in hopes of finding the remains of Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman or a trace of anything that would help investigators solve the 16-year-old mystery.
“The only thing we saw was a old bucket,” said Gary Stansell, an investigator for the district attorney’s office for Craig, Mayes and Rogers counties.
Stansell said he continues to get leads on the case. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation classifies the girls’ 1999 disappearance as an ongoing investigation.
The three-hour search of the well was initiated after Lorene Bible, Lauria’s mother, received a private message on a social networking site.
“The person said come to the old Charlie Krider house and look in the well,” Bible said.
Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman disappeared after the teens celebrated Ashley’s 16th birthday with a sleepover at the Freeman family home.
In the early morning hours of Dec. 30, 1999, the Freemans’ mobile home in Welch went up in flames, and the charred remains of Ashley’s parents, Danny and Kathy Freeman, were found inside. Both had sustained gunshot wounds that shattered their skulls, according to autopsy reports.
The well, covered with a concrete slab, is around 10 miles north of the Freeman property on an empty lot about a block from the main thoroughfare in Chetopa.
“There are still people scared of whoever did this,” Lorene Bible said. “The fear for them is still there.”
The Chetopa land once was owned by Charles Christian Krider, 54. It was sold after Krider was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2004 death of Judith Schrum, who was strangled before her body was dumped in a Cherokee County creek, according to court documents.
Krider is serving a 14-year sentence, and his earliest possible release date is April 13, 2017, records show.
He was reported to be a close friend and co-worker of Danny Freeman and had several head of cattle on the Freeman farm, Stansell said.
“We’re waiting on the next person who can tell to go look here or you need to go look here,” Lorene Bible said. “I need information that will lead to something good.”
Bible said she receives about two or three tips a month that are serious.
“The law enforcement has been wonderful — whether in Oklahoma or across the state line in Kansas,” she said. “I’ll go on and see what’s next.”