May 28th, 2024

Missing Kansas women confirmed dead, kids safe, 4 charged with kidnapping and murder

By The Associated Press on April 15, 2024.

FILE - This combination photo shows Veronica Butler, left, and Jilian Kelley, right. On Saturday, April 13, 2024, Oklahoma authorities said they arrested and charged four people with murder and kidnapping over the weekend in connection with the disappearances of the two Oklahoma women. (Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation via AP, File)

GUYMON, Okla. (AP) – Authorities on Monday confirmed the deaths of two Kansas women who went missing on a trip to Oklahoma to pick up children for a birthday party.

Two bodies were recovered in rural Oklahoma, a day after four people were charged with murder and kidnapping. Authorities say 27-year-old Veronica Butler and 39-year-old Jilian Kelley, of Hugoton, Kansas, were driving through the Oklahoma panhandle to pick up Butler’s children for a March 30 birthday party in Kansas. They never showed up.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation on Monday described an intense effort to find them, protect the children and arrest suspects without violence.

OSBI spokesman Hunter McKee said Butler and Kelley are dead, and that the four defendants were responsible for the women going missing, but would not confirm that the bodies found were identified as the missing Kansas women, pending a report from Medical Examiner’s Office.

“This case did not end the way we had hoped. It’s certainly been a tragedy for everyone involved,” OSBI Director Aungela Spurlock said.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

GUYMON, Okla. (AP) – Two bodies were recovered in rural Oklahoma, a day after four people were charged with kidnapping and murder in the disappearance of two Kansas women, authorities said.

Veronica Butler, 27; and Jilian Kelley, 39, of Hugoton, Kansas, were driving through the Oklahoma panhandle to pick up Butler’s children for a March 30 birthday party in Kansas, but never showed up. Their vehicle was found abandoned later that day on a rural highway in Texas County, near the Oklahoma-Kansas state line.

The sheriff’s office requested help from the state bureau of investigation, which said its officers immediately suspected foul play, based on undisclosed evidence found in the vehicle.

On Saturday, Oklahoma authorities said they arrested and charged four people with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree: Tad Bert Cullum, 43; Tifany Machel Adams, 54; Cole Earl Twombly, 50, and Cora Twombly, 44. Court records don’t indicate whether any of the four defendants have an attorney who could speak on their behalf.

Authorities announced the next day that two bodies were recovered in Texas County. The Medical Examiner’s Office would determine their identification and cause of death, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said in a statement Sunday night. Authorities in Texas County said they would reveal more about the case on Monday.

All four suspects are being held without bond in the Texas County Jail and are scheduled to make an initial court appearance Wednesday morning, said Texas County Court Clerk Renee Ellis.

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