Jan. 8, 1999

Shane Freeman, 17-year-old son of Danny and Kathy Freeman who was wanted in a string of burglaries, is shot and killed by a Craig County sheriff’s deputy. The shooting was later ruled justified, but Danny railed against the sheriff’s office in multiple media interviews.

Dec. 30, 1999

Sometime between midnight and 6 a.m., Danny and Kathy Freeman are shot and killed and their mobile home set on fire. Kathy Freeman’s burnt remains are found in the ashes by the first authorities to arrive on scene. But that initial search turns up no sign of Danny or Danny’s and Kathy’s daughter, Ashley Freeman, and her friend Lauria Bible, who stayed the night in celebration of Ashley’s birthday.

Dec. 31, 1999

Jay and Lorene Bible, Lauria’s parents, discover Danny Freeman’s charred remains in the debris.

Jan. 3, 2000

Phil Welch’s name first arises in connection with the case. Following up on an auto insurance verification card found at the crime scene, FBI agents track down the owner, who tells them her boyfriend, Welch, was driving the car that night.

January 2000

Prompted by separate tips, searches of Grand Lake, a mine shaft near Picher and a water-filled quarry near Chelsea for the girls’ bodies yield no signs of the girls. Also, the case quickly garners national attention, with the case of the missing teen girls even being featured on “America’s Most Wanted.”

Jan. 1, 2001

One year after their disappearance, a memorial service is held for Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible.

June 14, 2001

Authorities search the Wyandotte home of a man named Paul Glover based on information from a jailhouse snitch. OSBI removes a patch of blood-stained carpet; however, testing reveals it’s not related to the missing teens. A few weeks later in July, authorities also search near Twin Bridges State Park in Ottawa County, with no success.

May 2002

A convict named Tommy Lee Sells tells investigators he is responsible for the girls’ death. Then-Sheriff Jimmie Sooter says Sells was lying to get a day out of prison.

Jan. 24, 2003

Authorities search a field in Wyandotte after bones are discovered. It was later determined they were horse bones.

2005

A search of a property in Galena, Kansas, proves fruitless. The search was prompted by information given by convicted killer and rapist Jeremy Jones, who confessed to the killings but later recanted.

2009

After the death of Joe Dugan, a bounty hunter who worked for the Freeman relatives with licensed private investigator Tom Pryor, Dugan’s family reportedly attempts to turn over his investigative files to the Craig County sheriff’s office, which turns them down, an affidavit states. The family destroys the files.

2010

Ashley Freeman is declared legally dead by her family.

May 2011

With the retirement of lead investigator Steve Nutter of OSBI, the case is handed over to new investigators, OSBI Special Agent Tammy Ferrari and Gary Stansill, investigator for the District 12 District Attorney’s Office and a retired Tulsa Police detective.

December 2017

Craig County authorities announce the discovery earlier that year of a long-lost set of investigative files related to the case that they describe as “extremely valuable.” The files were discovered after Heath Winfrey was sworn in as the new sheriff in early 2017.

April 2018

Ronnie Busick, 66, of Wichita, Kansas, is arrested and charged in the 1999 deaths of the girls and Kathy and Danny Freeman. Two other suspects — Phil Welch, 61, and David Pennington, 56 — are also implicated, but Welch, described as the “mastermind” behind the killings, died in 2007 and Pennington in 2015.

December 2018

Attorneys for Busick ask for time for him to undergo competency-related tests before his preliminary hearing is set.

 

Tim Stanley

918-581-8385

tim.stanley@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @timstanleyTW

Staff Writer

Andrea is a projects reporter, examining key education topics and other local issues. Since joining the Tulsa World in 1999, she has been a three-time winner of Oklahoma’s top award for investigative reporting by an individual. Phone: 918-581-8470