Busick sentenced to 10 years in prison for disappearance of Welch girls

Jury finds Busick competent to stand trial for murder of Welch girls

CRAIG COUNTY, Okla – A judge sentences Ronnie Busick to 10 years in prison with 5 years of probation for the 1999 disappearance of two girls from Welch, Oklahoma.

Busick pleaded guilty to Accessory to Murder for the disappearance of Laura Bible, Ashley Freeman and for the deaths of Danny and Kathy Freeman.

As part of the plea agreement, Busick could have been sentenced to five years in prison and five years of probation if the remains of Ashley and Lauria had been found by Aug. 31. Since the agreement, authorities searched a property in northeast Oklahoma, but did not find the girls’ bodies.

(Previous Story: Nothing found as investigators continue looking for bodies of Welch girls)

The plea happened on July 15, 2020, in a Craig County courthouse in Vinita, Oklahoma. According to court documents, all original charges were dropped in the plea agreement: 4 counts of first degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and an arson charge.

(Previous Story: Possible plea agreement for Busick, suspect in Welch girls murders)

BACKGROUND

20 year memorial to be held for Welch girls near jail holding their alleged killer

Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible

Busick is one of three people accused in the murder case. The other two suspects have since passed away.

Busick was charged in 2018 in the Dec. 30, 1999, deaths of Danny Freeman and his wife Kathy Freeman, whose bodies were found in their burning home near Welch, Oklahoma – near the Kansas border – and the disappearances of their 16-year-old daughter, Ashley Freeman, and her 16-year-old friend, Lauria Bible.

Authorities say Lauria was spending the night at Ashley’s home that night. There were no signs of the girls.

(Related: Candlelight vigil honors girls on 20th anniversary of their disappearance)

In April 2018, the Craig County District Attorney identified three suspects. Two of the suspects, Philip Welch and David Pennington, have died since the crime.

Ronnie Busick was arrested and charged with four counts of first degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of first degree arson.

(Related: Federal agency get involved in search for missing Welch girlsLatest search efforts for missing Welch girls, mine shafts in Picher Oklahoma)

Authorities have yet to find the bodies of the two missing girls.