Latest search for missing Welch girls’ remains ends without significant finds

Melissa Dixon, left, Lorene Bible and Lisa Bible Brodrick speak at a memorial for Cherokee Nation citizen Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman, known as the Welch girls, on April 27 in Picher. Investigators searched a nearby property for the girls’ remains. 

PICHER — Authorities ended the latest search for the remains of two teenage Welch girls who disappeared in 1999 on Tuesday afternoon without finding anything significant.

Several locations were excavated on property where a now-deceased suspect, David Pennington, once lived.

Authorities believe that Pennington, Phil Welch and Ronnie Busick were involved in the Dec. 30, 1999, arson and fatal shootings of Danny and Kathy Freeman and the kidnappings and subsequent deaths of 16-year-old girls Ashley Freeman and Cherokee Nation citizen Lauria Bible.

The search was called off about 3:40 p.m. after nothing significant was found at four sites that eventually blended together in a 30-foot-by-20-foot area near an alley and a driveway.