Two families have finally received some answers in what had been a nearly 20-year-old cold case, but an Oklahoma district attorney says those answers "no doubt [come] as little solace to their grief." The Tulsa World reports on the charges brought this week against 66-year-old Ronnie Dean Busick in the case of missing 16-year-olds Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible, who vanished from Freeman's mobile home in Welch in December 1999 during a sleepover; Freeman's parents were found shot dead inside the burned home. Two other suspects, Warren Welch and David Pennington, have since died. An affidavit in the case says the three men were at the Freemans' home on Dec. 30, 1999, to make a drug deal with one of Ashley's parents, with witnesses claiming the murders resulted from a drug debt.
New leads in the case were spurred after the 2017 discovery of a crate in the Craig County Sheriff's Office said to hold "extremely valuable" info, including case notes and interviews with more than a dozen people, per KFOR. "The girls were kept alive for an unknown number of days" after the fire in the Freemans' home, says Craig County DA Matt Ballard, who adds Polaroids of the teens "in their final days were seen by multiple people." The affidavit says the teens were raped and tortured before they were strangled to death. Charges against Busick include kidnapping, arson, and first-degree murder. Authorities' next step: finding the teens' remains. Busick said Wednesday he'll "only talk to the families" about the girls' bodies, but then changed course and said he didn't know where they were, per the Tulsa World.