Skip to content

Disappearance of Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman

 Case File 1: Disappearance of Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman

 

Case File Overview

 

Best friends Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman, both 16, disappeared from Welch, Oklahoma, a small rural town in Craig County USA, in the early morning hours of December 30th, 1999.

Lauria was at Ashley’s home for a sleepover to celebrate Ashley’s 16th birthday.

The Freeman’s mobile home went up in flames in the wee hours of December 30, 1999. Kathy Freeman’s body was found inside. Initially, Danny Freeman was suspected in the murder of his wife and the disappearance of Lauria and Ashley. However, the next day Lauria’s parents searched the crime scene and discovered Danny Freeman’s body, which had been partially covered by debris.

Autopsies determined both Danny and Kathy had sustained gunshot wounds to the head and that Danny’s right collarbone had been fractured prior to his death.

Lauria and Ashley have never been found.

Lauria Bible

Image of Lauria Bible - missing person
Image source: Unsolved Mysteries

DOB: 12/29/83
Height: 5’7”
Weight: 145 lbs
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Dark blonde
Defining Characteristics: Scar on the upper left side of her forehead
Last seen 12/29/99

Ashley Freeman

Image of Ashley Freeman - missing person
Image source: Unsolved Mysteries

DOB: 4/18/83
Height: 5’5”
Weight: 130 lbs
Eyes: Hazel
Hair: Brown
Defining Characteristics: Mole under her nose and a scar on the top of her head
Last seen 12/29/99

 

Case File Theories

 

The Craig County Sheriff’s Department

There was reportedly bad blood between the Craig County Sheriff’s Department and the Freemans. Danny’s son, Shane, was shot and killed by officer David Hayes after Shane stole a truck and a neighbour’s gun. Later, the Freemans threatened to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Craig County Sheriff’s Department even though Shane’s killing was ruled justifiable.

Rumour had it members of the department were trying to intimidate the Freemans. Also, Danny had warned his brother Dwayne Vancil that if anything happened to Danny that the Craig County Sheriff’s Department was responsible.

Did members of the sheriff’s department play a role in Lauria and Ashley’s disappearance? It’s unlikely. First of all, the Craig County Sheriff’s Department voluntarily turned the case over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Additionally, members of the sheriff’s department took polygraph tests, and Special Agent Steve Nutter of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation cleared the sheriff’s office of any and all wrongdoing.

A Drug Deal/Robbery Gone Bad

Danny was a known marijuana grower, and the Freemans may have been targeted for drugs and/or cash on the premises. Ashley had been saving money for her first car, estimated to be between $3000-$4000, and stashing it in the freezer. The police were unable to locate Ashley’s savings, which suggests the murders and disappearance could be the result of a robbery. However, Lauria’s purse was found at the scene and was said to contain $200, calling into question if robbery was the motive. Even more, it seems that the last thing a robber or rival drug dealer would want to do after committing murder is kidnap two teenagers.

Lauria & Ashley Committed the Murders and Fled

Investigators dismissed this theory due to a lack of evidence. In fact, both young women were considered well-behaved and good students with bright futures. Also, if they did commit the murders and then flee, it’s likely Lauria would’ve taken her purse. Moreover, it’s unlikely they both would’ve been able to remain hidden all of these years. Agent Nutter explained, “I find it difficult to believe that the girls, by themselves, could hide out that long and not be found.”

Tommy Lynn Sells

Image of serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells
Image source: Murderpedia

In a letter to The Joplin Globe in May 2002, convicted murderer Tommy Lynn Sells confessed to killing Danny and Kathy Freeman and abducting and killing Ashley and Lauria. According to Sells, he was travelling through Welch, Oklahoma and committed the crimes. He stated he was high on drugs and couldn’t recall details of the crime or where he left Lauria and Ashley’s bodies.

Authorities believe Sells may have committed as many as sixteen murders but haven’t been able to find any evidence linking him to the Bible/Freeman case. Sells was executed by lethal injection on April 3rd, 2014. Regardless, he remains a possible suspect.

Jeremy B. Jones

Image of serial killer Jeremy Jones
Image source: Murderpedia

Death row inmate Jeremy B. Jones confessed to killing Danny and Kathy Freeman as a favour to a friend over a drug debt. Jones has been charged with two murders and is suspected in disappearances and murders in six states across the USA. He claimed he took Lauria and Ashley to Galena, Kansas, shot them, and threw their bodies into an abandoned mine.

Some evidence suggests Jones may be the perpetrator in the Bible/Freeman case. For example, Jones was convicted of murdering a woman and setting her house on fire to destroy the evidence. This is disturbingly similar to what transpired at the Freeman’s mobile home. Additionally, during his confession, the type of shotgun and accelerant Jones mentioned matched the evidence found at the Bible/Freeman crime scene.

On the other hand, other evidence indicates it’s unlikely he’s responsible for the crimes. Jones lived in Ottawa County, Oklahoma at the time of Ashley and Lauria’s disappearance, and he was released from jail at 10:30 p.m. on the evening in question. There’s some debate as to whether or not he would’ve had the time to commit the crimes. Also, nothing was found when authorities searched the mine where Jones claimed he had hid Ashley and Lauria’s bodies. Later, Jones recanted his confession, admitting he lied to receive better food and extra phone privileges while in prison. Like Sells, however, Jones remains a suspect in the case.

What do you think happened to Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman?

Lorene Bible, Lauria’s mother, continues the quest for information about her daughter’s disappearance on her Facebook page. She’s counting on someone coming forward to help solve the case.

Check out the following two detailed and insightful podcast episodes to learn more about this baffling and heart-wrenching case: Casefile and Thin Air.

 

Related Reading

Lauria Jaylene BibleThe Charlie Project case overview

Ashley Renae FreemanThe Charlie Project case overview

Lauria Bible & Ashley FreemanUnsolved Mysteries case overview

“‘Pot-stirring’ gives investigators new leads in cold cases such as missing Welch girls” – Tulsa World article

“New leads in search of Oklahoma girls missing since 1999”News Channel 4 article

Looking for some true crime reading this summer? Check out The TCF’s recent post for 3 must-read true crime books.

 

Published inCrime FilesTrue Crime

Archives

4 Comments

  1. Hmmm, I knew about Tommy Lynn Sells being a suspect but not Jeremy B. Jones. I do not believe the fire is really Sells MO, but the drug debt theory is very interesting.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Erica. Nice to hear from you! I also was surprised to learn that Jeremy B. Jones was a possible suspect. I agree with you about fire not being part of Sells’ MO. I also wouldn’t be shocked if there was some kind of drug angle to the case, like you mention. Or, perhaps the girls themselves were the target? One day, hopefully, there can some sense of closure for the victims’ loved ones.

  2. Looking at the fire and the damage to the trailer and then melted aluminum it’s obvious the girls were murdered and incinerated in the living area of the trailer. Use your head folks aluminum melts it over 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. A Crematory is 1200 to 1400 degrees. The parents bodies were recognizable only because they were sleeping in a waterbed and which their bodies were immersed in water during the fire. I have a certified IQ of over 159. My brain works a lot more differently then someone with an IQ south of 110 which is most of your investigator is your police excetera. The firefighter should have immediately recognized that the Twisted steel frame and melted aluminum indicated that the girls were more than likely incinerated in the fire. They should have also realized that the only reason the parents bodies were not consumed was because of the waterbed. More than likely the shotgun blast blue the water bed apart as well immersing the parents bodies in water period while the girls bodies in the living area where more than likely exposed to fire temperatures exceeding 1300 degrees Fahrenheit. The girls are not missing and if someone with some intelligence that actually sifted the fire for bone fragments they would have found the girl’s remains tiny fragments would be my guess. Truly sorry for your loss

    • Christine Christine

      Hi John. Thanks for taking the time to comment. You make an excellent point. It’s not made clear how well the area has been searched for the young women’s bodies. When I looked up crematory temps I found numbers higher than you note, but it’s still more than possible that most of their bodies could have burned away. If so, it’s heartbreaking to think the answer could be so close for the loved ones but still out of reach unless a much more thorough search is done. Great insights! I especially love the waterbed theory. Thanks again!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2017 The True Crime Files. All Rights Reserved.