Court proceedings for the lone surviving suspect in the nearly 20-year-old Freeman/Bible case have again been continued with the next hearing set for late December.

VINITA – Facing four counts of murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count for arson, Ronnie Dean Busick made another appearance in Craig County District Court in Vinita last Friday.

Busick’s case was continued once again to 9 a.m. on Dec. 21 on the Craig County District Court Preliminary Sounding Docket, by Special Judge Rebecca Gore.

The legal process is well underway in Busick’s case but has been stalled by this and previous continuations.

Busick, 66, of Wichita, Kansas, was charged on April 23 for the crimes and is facing the subsequent charges from the 1999 disappearance and murders of Lauria Bible, Ashley Freeman, both 16 at the time, and the murders of Ashley’s parents, Danny and Kathy Freeman in Welch at the Freemans’ home.

At the time of his arrest, Busick was serving time in a Kansas jail and was extradited to the Craig County Jail where he remains incarcerated.

“Today we go to court again. Today we look at one of the 3 men accused of Lauria’s disappearance and murder. He will look at us time and time again just to see if we are still looking at him. I’ll pray for him once again just like I do day after day and I'll pray that we make steps forward but as all the times before I expect we will leave broken hearted once again,” Lauria’s cousin Lisa Brodrick posted prior to the hearing.

Brodrick said after the hearing, “It was tabled so fast I hardly even heard the words uttered by the judge… Now, we wait until December 21st, just 4 days until Christmas, 8 days until the 19th Anniversary of the girls' disappearance.”

Dec. 29, 1999

Busick is the lone surviving suspect in the long-running Freeman/Bible case. Two other men Warren Philip Welch II, 61, and David A. Pennington, 56, also allegedly involved in the case are now deceased. Welch died in 2007 and Pennington in 2015.

The night of the Freeman’s murder the family’s trailer house in rural Welch was set on fire and burned to the ground where the couple’s bodies were later found. Both were determined to have died from gunshots. Lauria Bible was spending that night, Dec. 29, 1999, at the Freeman home with her friend Ashley, to celebrate her birthday.

Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman, by several witnesses’ accounts and information told to investigators by the suspects, were allegedly kidnapped and taken to a Picher residence and later murdered in crimes involving Busick, Welch, and Pennington. The probable cause statement in Busick’s arrest indicates Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman were both possibly held for days, then murdered and their bodies hidden in an abandoned Picher mine shaft and that Busick was involved or knew of the crimes.

To this day the teenagers have not been recovered. After his arrest, Busick met with family members and maintains that he does not know the location of the girls’ bodies, and did not disclose any further information about the crimes.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and Craig County Sheriff’s Office investigators continue to follow any new leads and ask anyone with any further information of the crimes to come forward. A $50,000 reward is offered for information that may help solve the crimes.


Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.