'Extremely Valuable' Cold Case Find: a Crate

New leads in 1999 disappearance follow discovery of case files
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2018 7:15 AM CST
Ashley Freeman, left, and Lauria Bible.   (CUE Center for Missing Persons)

(Newser) – The disappearance of two teenage girls in Oklahoma 18 years ago is getting renewed attention—and the case is potentially making progress—thanks to the lucky discovery of an old crate. Craig County Sheriff Heath Winfrey was moving into the Sheriff’s Office in 2017 when he found a crate containing case notes on a shelf in a closet, reports Tulsa World. "We weren't digging for it—we just found it," says Winfrey. Indeed, an investigator with the district attorney's office says authorities didn't even know the notes existed until Winfrey discovered them. And they're being described as "extremely valuable," having "produced leads that have produced additional leads," the investigator says. "You don't think finding something like that in a crate would push the case forward this much," adds Winfrey.

Though on a "definite course," per KOTV, authorities hope $60,000 in combined rewards will encourage more tips. What's known is that Danny and Kathy Freeman were found shot dead inside their burned mobile home in Welch, having been killed late on Dec. 29, 1999, or early the next morning. Their 16-year-old daughter, Ashley, was having a birthday sleepover with Lauria Bible, also 16, in the home. No evidence of the girls has been found since, including in a Kansas mineshaft where a man once claimed he'd placed their bodies. Citing an unpaid debt, Jeremy Jones said he killed the Freemans before driving the girls to Kansas and shooting them, per Inside Edition. However, Jones never faced charges in the case and later recanted his confession. He's currently on death row in Alabama for a woman's rape and murder. (A Coke can might've solved this 1989 murder.)

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