19 Years Later, Memory Lives On For Missing Welch Girls
CRAIG COUNTY, Oklahoma - Hours after Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman disappeared nearly 20 years ago, search parties were formed, missing signs were hung, and a community was on edge.
A close friend of the girls is still staying hopeful their bodies will be found and their families will find peace.
Ronnie Busick is sitting in the Craig County Jail facing four counts of murder.
But despite the gruesome details of the case, one of Lauria and Ashley's closest friends said she just hopes people can remember the girls for who they were and not what they went through.
“It's so easy to get lost in the details of this … but what I hope and wish is that people won't dwell on those things and they will take that energy and remember the girls,” said Sheena Reece.
Reece said she was coming home from basketball at Blue Jacket High School when she found out about the fire at the Freeman house.
She immediately rushed home to call Lauria to see if Ashley was okay.
“I just wanted to get home to get to a phone to call Lauria and that's when he told me that Lauria was with her so that was like a shot to the gut,” said Reece.
24 hours later, after investigators left the home turned crime scene, family and friends went to make sure nothing was missed.
“You know they sifted through all the way to the ground to make sure those two girls weren't in there and they weren't so we knew that we had to get a search party going,” said Reece.
Reece and her family were involved in several different searches and hung up missing posters across the area but said even when it was difficult, she never gave up hope.
“Laura and Ashley were such fighters and both so full of life and love,” Reece said.
She said she still thinks about them every day.
“They didn't have a chance to have children, get married, so I hope those of us that are here and that did have that opportunity will make something of that for them,” Reece said.
Ultimately, everyone is fighting for the same goal to get the girls home.
“Knowing that that will give them some closure and peace of mind, that will give me closure,” Reece said.
She said they are still hopeful that Lauria and Ashley's bodies will be recovered.
If you have any information that could help, please call the OSBI.