Search continues for ‘Missing Welch Girls’, this time using information from the man convicted: Busick

Joplin News First

Ronnie Busick's 10 year sentence will be cut in half if he can provide the location of the girls before August 31

PICHER, Okla. – Tuesday morning investigators gathered on property where the missing ‘Welch Girls’ might be found. It’s property that Ronnie Busick told investigators he is 75% sure this is where Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible’s remains can be found.

Busick provided the information and location because he recently pleaded guilty to his part in the kidnapping and murder of the girls, as well as the murders of Freeman’s parents and arson of their mobile home at the end of December, 1999.

He pleaded guilty in July, 2020. And will receive a 10 year sentence as accessory to murder. However if he can provide the location of the girls remains by August 31 then they will cut his sentence in half.

The other two males responsible were Phil Welch and David Pennington. Both of them died without being convicted of the crimes.

Authorities came to excavate an old root cellar in Picher, Okla. on property where one of the other two males responsible lived, Phil Welch. Busick said he went there often to buy drugs from Welch and that’s where he said he had seen the girls before.

Tuesday’s search came up empty for investigators.

It seemed Tuesday’s information was the final chance. There really isn’t another place he has provided them to look. He still has a few days to tell investigators.

“Today we looked at what we were told was a root cellar and what was a root cellar and there was just nothing in there. I mean I don’t know what it was. And yes I am disappointed. But we are not going to give up.

For some reason he (Busick) has identified this area. He’s identified this location. He gave us directions. And once we came out here and looked. We found the root cellar. And he gave us some other landmarks, that made us convinced that this is the root cellar that he had been coming to, in the past, with the other suspects, the deceased suspects.

We’re done here for the day, we have exhausted our search efforts. In the meantime we still want people who have any information or any leads to call in with information. We still firmly believe there are people out there for some reason have some information they aren’t sharing with us.”

Investigator Gary Stansill addressing the media gathered at 12:42 PM
The victims are all featured on the OSBI cold case playing cards that are distributed to those incarcerated in Oklahoma in hopes of getting leads in cold cases.

The search was headed by; Angela Berg from the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office, along with lead detectives; OSBI Special Agent Tammy Ferrari and District Attorney Matt Ballard’s Investigator Gary Stansill.

Also assisting: Members of the Quapaw Tribe, Craig County Sheriff Heath Winfrey’s Office, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Additional search team members from multiple agencies.

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