People are not supposed to vanish. To disappear without leaving a single trace of yourself is hard to do. It is inevitable that you will leave a clue behind despite your best efforts.
So how did two girls simply vanish nearly almost 19 years ago?
Welch, Oklahoma, USA. On December 30th, 1999, a fire broke out at the Freeman family trailer home residence. A motorist driving by reports the fire at six AM. Authorities find the remains of Kathy Freeman during the fire investigation. There is no sign of her husband and daughter, Danny and Ashley, or Ashley’s best friend staying the night, Lauria Bible. At the time, the belief was that Danny took the girls and left. Authorities report that there are no more bodies left in the debris of the trailer. What’s important to note is that they did not secure the scene.
Understandably, the Bible family wants answers. Their daughter was spending the night with her best friend, and suddenly she is missing, possibly dead. The next day Lauria’s family, Lorene and Jay go to the scene and find Lauria’s purse still there. Far more menacing, they find the body of Danny Freeman that had been missed during the previous search of the house.
Danny and Kathy Freeman had been shot before the fire started.
Medical examiners conclude that Kathy Freeman had been shot and killed around five AM the morning of the fire, at least an hour before the passing motorist spotted the blaze. The examiner also found that Danny Freeman’s collarbone had been fractured before being shot fatally. All signs are now pointing to the fire being intentionally set to hide the murders.
So that leaves Ashley and Lauria. If the police could miss the body of a grown man, could they have missed the bodies of two teenage girls? However a thorough search of the house concluded that the girls were definitely not in there. All cars belonging to the Freeman family were still parking outside the home. So where did they go?
This case asks more questions than it answers. To get the full scope of it, you need to go back to August 1998, when the Freeman family first clashes with the Oklahoma police department.
Danny Freeman was a man with a temper. He took it out on the eldest child in the family Shane, and eventually was charged with child abuse. Danny claims that the situation was blown out of proportion, but the courts found that excessive force had been used.
Shane Freeman himself was not a model son. He was frequently in trouble with the law, and had even stolen his uncle’s truck to sell. He stole again from the family when he broke into the family’s trailer and stole his younger sisters money and the family’s stock pile of firearms.
On January 8th 1999, Shane was killed during a confrontation with the law. He was shot by an Oklahoma police officer named David Hayes. At the time of the confrontation, Hayes was on duty and had reported to the scene. Shane was in a stolen vehicle that had broken down on a country road. Hayes says that he shot because Shane was reaching behind his back, while the Freeman family maintains that the autopsy showed Shane had been shot in the back.
The shooting was investigated and Hayes was found to have acted in self defence, and the case was closed. This enraged the Freeman family, particularly Danny. He reportedly asked around for Hayes’ residence, and investigators believe that Danny was hoping to seek revenge. The family also reports police cars staking out their trailer home and claim that they were being intimidated by the police.
Nearly a year later, the family home would go up in flames.
1. The police department was abusing it’s power and committed the crime to silence the family.
This one is entirely plausible. The family had become a menace to the department and was making them look bad. Shane and Danny Freeman were in and out of the court system and for a small town, were probably well known for it. Whether the killing of Shane Freeman was the catalyst or not for the fire is debatable. In no way is this article trying to lay blame on anyone, but there was certainly motive enough for the police department to get rid of the family. They had been causing trouble, and the police solved the problem once and for all. The family had also been fighting back against the investigation into the death of Shane and if the autopsy is to be believed, then Shane certainly was killed in cold blood. Did the department want to deal with a deeper probe into police brutality? Probably not. There is also the bungled initial investigation into the fire to consider. A trailer is not a large space, and yet investigators somehow missed the body of Danny. But while there is no doubt there were clashes between the family and the police, shooting people and setting fire to their trailer is a pretty big jump to make. It also does not explain the disappearance of Ashley and Lauria. They were innocent in all of this. Why would the police harm them? Surely if the family was being watched, the police could have done this while the girls were out. Where would they take the girls? Why has there been no sign of them since?
It’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that the police department had some sort of involvement in this crime. But there are two many missing pieces to the puzzle with this theory.
2. Danny Freeman had a temper, and had angered the wrong person(s).
Again, this theory is entirely plausible. There is evidence that Danny had a temper or at least could not control his anger as he had beaten Shane and gone to court for it. If he could do that to his own son, what could he have done to a stranger, or friend? Again, this piece isn’t meant to cast blame on anyone. But if Danny had said the wrong thing to someone, and that someone was angry enough…
Ashley and Lauria would have been collateral damage if this theory fits. Were the girls killed, or taken somewhere by the same people? There was no trace of them left in the trailer, and even a hot fire would still leave bone fragments.
3. The girls shot Kathy and Danny, and took off on their own.
This theory is a little strange. It’s hard to imagine two teenage girls with their whole lives ahead of them killing family and then living off the grid. They did not take the cars, as they were still parked outside the house, and Lauria’s purse was found inside the trailer by her parents. The only thing that gives any credibility to this theory is that Ashley had saved up $4000 in cash which was missing from the trailer. She had reportedly kept it in the freezer, so it’s likely it wasn’t burned in the fire. It also could have been taken by a third party that committed the crime. $4000 is a decent sum of money, but not anything two girls could live off of for an extended period of time. As technology advances, it’s growing incredibly hard to stay under the radar, and in almost 19 years, there has not been a single trace of them.
How does one disappear? Even more, how do two people disappear without a trace, and leave no clue behind? The case of Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible is a haunting one. Two girls on the edge of their life suddenly vanish on a fiery winter night. What happened to them, and where are they now?