Search set to resume for Welch teenagers

Sunday, January 9th 2005, 3:56 pm
By: News On 6

WELCH, Okla. (AP) _ The search for the bodies of two Welch teenagers missing since 1999 likely will start within two weeks and will focus on abandoned mines in the Oklahoma-Kansas-Missouri mining district, said Lorene Bible, mother of one of the teens.

Following interrogations in Alabama last week with serial killer suspect Jeremy Jones, 31, law officers received information about the possible whereabouts of 16-year-old friends Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman.

The teens vanished Dec. 30, 1999, the night the bodies of Ashley's parents, Danny Freeman, 40, and his wife, Kathy, 38, were discovered in their torched mobile home in Welch. Lauria was spending the night in the Freeman home to celebrate Ashley's 16th birthday.

District Attorney Gene Haynes told The Oklahoman on Thursday that Jones, who is formerly from Ottawa County, has given authorities clues to where the bodies are and provided ``promising information.''

After returning from Alabama, Craig County Sheriff Jimmie Sooter met Friday with Lorene Bible and her husband, Jay.

The couple say they found hope that they finally may be close to learning the fate of their daughter.

``If Jeremy is telling the truth, they have to proceed and be very cautious,'' Lorene Bible said.

Bible said the day after the fifth anniversary of her daughter's disappearance, she received an anonymous letter saying Jones was more than a person of interest in the girls' disappearance and that law officers needed to talk to him. Bible said she turned the letter over to the Craig County sheriff's office.

During the 45-minute meeting Friday, Sooter told the Bible family that Jones did not confess to the killings but did provide information, Bible said.

Freeman's brother, Duane Vancil, said he does not know if Jones was involved, but he still has a lot of questions.

``I don't want a convenient conviction. I want the people who did it,'' Vancil said.

Jones is in the Mobile County jail. He is being held without bail and is charged with killing a woman in Alabama and a teenage girl in Georgia.

Investigators say he is a ``person of interest'' in a string of slayings across the southeastern United States. In a recent development, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation is checking to see if Jones might be connected to the 1992 stabbing of Jennifer Judd, 20, of Baxter Springs, Kan.