Searchers return to Picher in search for Welch teens

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PICHER, Ok. — Searchers are back in action in Picher Tuesday, looking for any signs of two Welch teens missing for more than 20 years.

The new site is part of a theory that the remains of Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman are in a root cellar in the Picher area. Recent information from family members of a deceased suspect point to a spot not far from earlier excavations.

Just weeks after the teens disappeared, suspect David Pennington had moved to the location and told his wife and others not to poke around.

Gary Stansill, Craig Co. DA Investigator, said, “That brings us out here, looking for a possible root cellar that he didn’t want them around. Several people have said there was definitely some type of a cellar somewhere over there. But everyone’s been real inconsistent on exactly where it is.”

Lorene Bible, Victim’s Mother, said, “To get a person to come forward that can actually say this is where the girls are or in this general area – it’s still the best kept secret there is.”

Friends and family members have been building a memorial to the missing teens in Picher. They disappeared in December 1999 in the wake of a fire at the Freeman mobile home.

The bodies of Danny and Kathy Freeman were found there. Last year, Ronnie Dean Busick pled guilty to accessory to murder, but claimed suspects David Pennington and Phil Welch – now deceased – were primarily responsible.

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