VINITA — A date has been set for the preliminary hearing in the case of two then 16-year-old girls missing from Welch for 20 years, and in the deaths of one of the teen’s parents.
Ronnie Busick was in court Friday morning in Vinita for the first hearing held in the case since he was found competent to stand trial recently.
Busick is a suspect in the deaths of Danny and Kathy Freeman, and the kidnapping and presumed deaths of teens Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman.
Busick’s preliminary will take place on March 26 at 9 a.m. at the courthouse in Vinita. Should it become necessary, the hearing will continue the following day.
He is currently in the Craig County jail. According to investigators, they think Busick and two other men, Warren Phillip Welch II and David Pennington, shot both of Ashley Freeman’s parents and then kidnapped the girls.
The other two suspects have died in the intervening years.
Officials believe the three men held the girls captive for days and raped them repeatedly before killing them and disposing of their bodies.
Authorities charged Busick with four counts of first-degree murder in relation to the cold case 19 years after the murders.
A jury was chosen to decide whether he was competent to stand trial and, on Dec. 18, 2019, they ruled that he was.
According to reports, Lauria was spending the night with her best friend, Ashley, to celebrate Ashley’s birthday at the Freeman’s mobile home in Welch on Dec. 29, 1999.
Investigators believe that in the morning hours of Dec. 30, Ashley Freeman’s parents were killed and their home was set on fire.
The teens have never been found despite many searches over the years. Lorene and Jay Bible, Lauria’s parents, have never stopped looking.
Busick has denied any involvement or knowledge of the case.
Special District Judge Jacqueline Stout is presiding and attorneys Gretchen Mosley, Gregg Graves and Delia Lopez represent the defendant.