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Bodies Found Sunday in Oklahoma Panhandle Identified as Veronica Butler and Jilian Kelley – Crime Online

Oklahoma’s chief medical examiner on Tuesday positively identified two bodies found in Texas County over the weekend as Veronica Butler and Jilian Kelley, two women who disappeared while traveling from Kansas to Oklahoma on March 30 to pick up Butler’s children.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation made the announcement in a Facebook post that concluded with “our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones, along with everyone throughout their community.”

Butler, 27, and Kelley, 39, were heading to Texas County to pick up Butler’s children from their grandmother, Tifany Adams, for a scheduled visit, as CrimeOnline reported. Kelley, a Kansas pastor’s wife, was one of four people approved to supervise those visits. Adams usually required a different person to supervise the visits but had told Butler that the usual person wasn’t available, forcing Butler to choose one of the other people on the list. She chose Kelley.

Butler and Kelley were going to take Butler’s daughter to a birthday party, and when they didn’t show up, family members went looking for them and found Butler’s car abandoned on a dirt road about five miles from where she was to meet Adams to pick up the children. Investigators found blood on the roadway and intensified their search for the two women.

Adams, meanwhile, told investigators that she’d called Butler that morning and that Butler said she wasn’t going to make it to the drop off. Investigators found that Adams did call Butler — while Butler was picking up Kelley for the trip, casting doubt on Adams’s version of the phone call.

Tad Cullum, Cole Twombly, Cora Twombly, and Tifany Adams/Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation

On Saturday, the OSBI arrested Adams, her boyfriend Tad Cullum, and married couple Cole and Cora Twombly, charging them with three counts of murder, two counts of kidnapping, and conspiracy. On Sunday, they announced they had found two bodies in the search for the missing women.

Investigators have not yet said where they found the bodies, but a probable cause affidavit details the investigation and refers to a piece of land below a dam, where they found a hole had been dug, refilled, and covered with hay. At least two of three burner phones Adams bought for the group pinged in that area about a half an hour after Butler and Kelley’s phones stopped pinging.

The spot was about 8 1/2 miles from where Butler’s abandoned vehicle was found.

Much of the information that led to the four arrests came from Cora Twombly’s 16-year-old daughter, who told investigators that her mother and stepfather “blocked the road to stop Butler and Kelley and divert them to where Adams, Cullum, and [a fifth man, who was not arrested] were.”

“[The 16-year-old girl] asked Cora if their bodies were put in a well, and Cora replied, ‘something like that,’” the affidavit said.

Twombly’s daughter also told police that the five people had tried to kill Butler in February but had been unable to get her out of her house to carry out their plan.

The affidavit heavily implied that the custody issue was the motive for the murders. Butler’s ex-husband, Wrangler Rickman, had legal custody of the children, but his mother was keeping them — and sometimes refusing to even let her son take them. He was in a rehabilitation facility in Oklahoma City at the time Butler and Kelley disappeared.

And last month, Butler had filed seeking extended visitation with them. Her attorney told police that she was expected to be given unsupervised visits at a hearing that was scheduled for Wednesday.

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[Featured image: Veronica Butler and Jilian Kelley/Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation]

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