New search announced for long-missing Oklahoma girls bodies

Ashley Renae Freeman (left) and Lauria Jaylene Bible, both 16 at the time, have been missing since Dec. 30, 1999. 

PICHER, Okla. (AP) — A new search for the bodies of two northeast Oklahoma girls missing since 1999 started Friday, according to authorities.

Investigators will search a cellar on vacant land in the former town of Picher where a suspect in the disappearance of Ashley Freeman and Cherokee Nation citizen Lauria Bible lived at the time, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the Craig County District Attorney's Office.

The location is based on interviews by investigators of Ronnie Busick, a Wichita, Kansas, man who pleaded guilty in August to being an accessory to murder in the case.

“Busick just kept saying over and over ‘the root cellar,’” to OSBI and district attorney investigators, according to Michelle Lowry, spokesperson for the district attorney's office.

Freeman and Bible, both 16, disappeared from Freeman’s home near Welch on Dec. 30, 1999, and Freeman’s parents were found dead in the burned rubble of the home.

Investigators believe Busick and two other men shot Ashley’s parents and kidnapped the girls, holding them captive for days, raping them repeatedly then killing them.

The other two men are now dead.

The search is on land where a former home of one of the men once stood, and authorities say his stepdaughter told investigators Pennington forbid anyone from going near the cellar.