Sunday, Ronnie Dean Busick of Hesston was just another parole violator serving 60 daya in the Harvey County Jail, but that changed Monday. Monday he was charged with four murders in connection with the disappearance of two teenage girls in Oklahoma 18 years ago..
Busick had lived in Hesston for several years, where he was "known to law enforcement" according to Hesston Chief of Police Doug Schroeder.
Schroeder would not comment on individual cases his department worked in connection with Busick. Schroeder believed Busick lived in Hesston for at least five years. District Court records list two two different Hesston addresses for Busick. The Kansas Department of Corrections shows him in Harvey County in 2007.
According to the Kansas Department of Corrections, Busick had multiple Kansas drug convictions, and he was imprisoned off-and-on in the state starting in the 1980s.
In Harvey County, Busick was sued in civil court for unpaid bills three times. In May of 2012 he was charged and convicted for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. In February of this year he violated his parole by not reporting to a parole office and using illegal drugs, according to court records. On Feb. 26, he entered the Harvey County Jail to serve 60 days.
Then came a call from investigators in Oklahoma who wanted to interview Busick. He was arrested for murder and other charges shortly after.
According to an affidavit, an unnamed witness said Ronnie Dean Busick "started running his mouth" about his involvement in the slayings and kidnappings, and that the girls "were kept alive for several days" while tied up, raped and tortured in a mobile home in northeastern Oklahoma. The affidavit said Busick and the other suspects were linked to the case last year after authorities recovered a crate containing reports and files about the original investigator from the office of a former sheriff. Some documents were recovered from a private investigator who had also worked on the case, but investigative materials produced by a different private investigator were destroyed, the affidavit said.
Busick, 66, was charged Monday with four counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of first-degree arson in the killing of Danny and Kathy Freeman of Craig County, and the disappearance of teenagers Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman.
Busick was interviewed by investigators at least three times last year but denies having any direct knowledge about the case and claims he does not know where the girls are.
He was scheduled to be released Sunday after serving a 60-day sentence for violating probation in a 2013 felony marijuana possession case, said Jason Lane, the county's chief deputy attorney.
William Brown, Busick's attorney in the probation violation case, did not immediately return a phone message from seeking comment. Lane said Busick doesn't have an attorney in the Oklahoma case.
During the night hours of Dec. 29, 1999, a shotgun blast tore apart Danny’s face, according to an autopsy report. Kathy was shot in the head and was found by investigators lying face down on the couple’s waterbed.
An accelerant was placed near the wood burning stove and by daybreak the mobile home was engulfed in flames, investigators have said about the crime scene over the years.
When the smoked cleared, Lauria’s car was still parked in front of the Freeman mobile home with the keys in the ignition and her purse, containing money, was found in the charred rubble of the Freeman mobile home.
Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible were 16 years old when they celebrated Ashley’s birthday with a sleepover at the Freeman home in Welch, Oklahoma, on Dec. 29, 1999.
In the middle of the night on Dec. 29 or the early-morning hours of Dec. 30, 1999, someone drove down the dirt driveway to the Freeman residence. An accelerant was placed near the wood-burning stove. Investigators aren’t sure how long it took, but the mobile home became engulfed in flames.
The body of Kathy Freeman, Ashley’s mother, was discovered in the charred remains of the mobile home. A bullet, according to her autopsy report, had shattered her skull. The skull of Danny Freeman, found later at the scene, also was shattered, an autopsy showed. His extensive arrowhead collection could not be located in the rubble.
No evidence of Lauria and Ashley was found at that scene, but Lauria’s car was in the Freeman driveway with the keys in the ignition.
For years, investigators worked on the premise that an intruder or intruders killed the Freemans and the girls were collateral damage.
Witnesses interviewed by investigators said Busick told them the girls were duct-taped to chairs and that a "bunch" of photographs were taken of them. Other witnesses recalled seeing photos of the girls "lying on a bed, facing each other, with their hands tied and their mouths gagged," the affidavit said.
Authorities believe the teenagers were eventually killed and might be buried in a pit near Picher, Oklahoma, a former mining boomtown that has largely been deserted because of pollution.
— The Associated Press and the Miami (Oklahoma) News-Record contributed to this report