After 20 years, a guilty plea in Welch missing girls case

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NORTHEAST OKLAHOMA — More than twenty years later, a guilty plea in the case of a Welch double murder and two missing teens.

Ronnie Dean Busick pled guilty to accessory to murder for his role in the 1999 deaths of Danny and Kathy Freeman and the disappearance of their daughter Ashley and her friend Lauria Bible.

Lorene Bible, Lauria Bible’s Mom, said, “He’s had 20 plus years to come forward you know but it’s now or never.”

Lauria Bible’s mother Lorene doesn’t take much comfort from a guilty plea.

“He’ll go to prison and do his time and you know if he lives long enough he’ll get out. but for us we still don’t have the girls.”

But she’s hoping that will change.

Busick’s prison sentence hinges on what he does in the next six weeks.

If he can lead authorities to the remains of Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman, it will cut down his sentence from ten years to five, along with another five suspended.

Matt Ballard, OK D.A. #12, said, “We’re optimistic, we’re hopeful, but we know there’s no guarantee.”

Busick pled guilty to knowing about the crimes and withholding that information from police.

Authorities previously identified David Pennington and Phil Welch as the other suspects, but both are deceased.

Meanwhile, Lorene Bible is waiting to see what Busick has to say.

“I knew from the second day they brought him in here that he knew something, I talked to him. He told me,” said Bible.

She’s hoping to finally end the search that’s been the one constant in her life for 20 years.

“Lauria was a big part of all our lives. Ashley was a big part of the Freemans. Lauria and Ashley were best friends. And for them to be taken off the face of the earth like they didn’t even exist, all we’ve done is fought, fought, fought fought.”

Busick has until August 31st to help authorities find the teens.

If they haven’t been found by then, he will get the longer prison sentence.

Lorene Bible says that won’t change her focus – she’ll be searching until Lauria and Ashley are found.

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