OSBI: Bodies Of 2 Missing Kansas Women Found In Buried Freezer

According to a search warrant, on April 14 officials found the bodies of Veronica Butler, 27, and Jilian Kelley, 39, in a chest freezer buried just over eight miles from where the women went missing.

Tuesday, May 21st 2024, 4:54 pm

By: News 9, Bella Roddy


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New information was released Tuesday in the investigation of two missing Kansas women found dead in Oklahoma.

According to a search warrant, on April 14 officials found the bodies of Veronica Butler, 27, and Jilian Kelley, 39, in a chest freezer buried just over eight miles from where the women went missing.

**Editor’s Note: All information is from search warrants released by the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation.**

THE TIMELINE

March 30

On March 30, 2024 the Texas County Sheriff’s Office requested investigative services from the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation in the disappearance of Butler and Kelley, according to OSBI.

OSBI stated that after initial interviews were conducted, it was discovered that Butler was in a custody battle with Tifany Adams (the paternal grandmother of Butler’s children).

Butler’s visitation with her children on March 30, was to be supervised and Butler asked one of her approved supervisors, Kelley to attend the visit, according to OSBI.

Butler shared with family members that she was going to pick up her children from Adams near Highway 59 and Road L. in Texas County, Oklahoma, OSBI shared.

When Butler and her children didn’t arrive home from the visit, family members began looking for her and contacted the authorities, OSBI stated.

Two of Butler’s family members located her abandoned vehicle just west of Highway 59, and contacted law enforcement.

OSBI stated that when officials examined the vehicle there was evidence of severe injury and blood was found on the roadway near a broken hammer. 

Butler’s glasses were also found in the roadway, as well as a pistol magazine inside Kelley’s purse but no pistol was found, OSBI stated.

Adams (Butler’s children’s grandmother) shared with OSBI that she called Butler at 9:00 a.m. on March 30, to confirm the meeting, but said Butler told Adams something ‘came up’ and she wasn’t going to make it.

OSBI shared that phone records do confirm this call occurred, but at the time of the call Butler was in Kansas picking up Kelley to meet Adams.

OSBI stated that Adams claimed she was at home at the time of Butler’s and Kelley’s disappearance.

Butler and Kelley’s phone records show that they were active on their carriers until around 9:42 a.m., when their devices stopped transmitting, according to OSBI.

OSBI says that neither of their phones were found at the scene or in the vehicle, and are still missing.

Adams was the last known person to communicate with Butler, according to OSBI.

April 1

On April 1, 2024 OSBI agents executed a search warrant for Adams’ phone. OSBI stated that information from the device included searches for “taser pain level, gun shops, prepaid cellular phones, and how to get someone out of their house.”

April 3

On April 3, 2024, OSBI interviewed the daughter of Cora Twombly and Colby White. Cora is married to Cole Twombly, according to OSBI. The daughter shared with OSBI that she had overheard conversations about Butler “not protecting her children,” and that Adams, Cullum, Cora, Cole, and another man named Paul Grice were all involved in the deaths of Butler and Kelley, according to OSBI.

The daughter also shared with OSBI that Adams, Cullum, Cora, Cole and Grice were part of an anti-government group, “God’s Misfits”.

OSBI stated that regular meetings of the group were held at Twombly’s and Barrett and Lacy Cook’s homes.

The daughter of Cora shared with OSBI that Cora and Cole said that they would not be home in the morning, because they were going on a ‘mission’.

OSBI said that the daughter noticed them returning home around noon.

The daughter shared that when she asked what happened Cora responded that things didn’t go as planned but that she didn’t ‘have to worry about [Butler] anymore’, according to OSBI.

The daughter also stated that Cora said the plan to kill Butler in Kansas was to get in front of her while she was driving and to ‘throw an anvil through her windshield’, according to OSBI.

OSBI stated that Adams purchased three pre-paid cell phones from Walmart in Guymon, Oklahoma on February 13, 2024. 

OSBI discovered that all three phones were in the area where Butler’s car was located at the time of their disappearance.

Later the day of the disappearance, between 10:16 p.m. and 10:35 p.m., two of the pre-paid phones pinged to a property owned by Jamie Beasley, according to OSBI.

The phones were found below a dam, in a pasture where fresh dirt work was located by officials, according to OSBI. 

Concrete was moved from a location near Beasley’s residence, where it was discovered that a hole had been dug and filled in, according to OSBI.

This location was approximately 8.5 miles from where Butler’s abandoned car was found, according to OSBI.

It was learned that on March 31, 2024, Cullum was at Beasley’s house and told Beasley that people were ‘looking at him for the disappearance of Butler and Kelley’, OSBI stated.

April 13

Cora Wombly was arrested on April 13, 2024, in Cimmaron County, Oklahoma, according to OSBI.

On April 13, 2024, a search warrant was executed at Beasley’s property, and an excavation of a possible burial site started, according to OSBI.

It was later discovered that the property was leased by Tad Collum.

April 14

OSBI stated that on April 14, 2024, a chest freezer was found and opened. The bodies of Butler and Kelley were found inside, according to OSBI.

Documents also reveal some of the items collected including multiple pieces of clothing with possible blood, a saw handle, tape, and a knife.

Some of the clothes did not belong to the victims.

In other filings--after the bodies were discovered, a witness told investigators defendant Paul Grice came to his house and asked, "How long would DNA last on clothing buried in dirt in a 15-foot hole?" 

Grice also asked the witness "if he knew how to get a guy and his family into Mexico."

Last week a judge denied the state's request to seal any warrants filed in this case.

It's still unclear how the women were killed.

The judge is allowing more time for the reports from the Medical Examiner to be released.

CUSTODY CASE INFORMATION

Recordings were obtained where the father of Butler’s children, Wrangler Rickman discussed death threats from Adams and her boyfriend, Tad Cullum, according to OSBI.

OSBI stated that the custody battle began in 2019 with hearings and court appearances. 

There are several instances reported where Adams refused to return the children to Rickman, but police stated that the children were better off in Adams’ care, according to OSBI.

Rickman was reportedly in a rehabilitation facility in Oklahoma City, at the time of the womens’ disappearance, OSBI stated.

WHO WAS JILIAN KELLEY?

Kelley was a pastor’s wife and mother of four. Her husband, Heath Kelley, was the pastor of First Christian Church in Hugoton. In recent months, he had accepted a new job with Willow Christian Church in Indianola, Nebraska, but hadn’t started there yet.

At Willow’s sister congregation, McCook Christian Church, Sunday’s service opened with news of the killings. “We had longed for a different outcome,” a pastor told the congregation during the service, which was posted on Facebook.

WHO ARE THE SUSPECTS?

All five suspects are charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit murder. They are being held without bond at the Texas County Jail in Guymon.

In addition to Adams, 54, the others charged are Tad Cullum, 43; Cora Twombly, 44; and her husband Cole Twombly, 50, both of Texhoma, Oklahoma, and Paul Grice, 31. 

Tifany Adams, who was involved in the custody dispute with Butler, is the current chair of the Cimarron County Republican Party, according to Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Nathan Dahm. Cimarron County is the westernmost county at the tip of the Oklahoma Panhandle with a population of fewer than 2,300 people.

Dahm said officials at the state party did not know Adams. He said given how rural the county is, “it could have been three people who showed up at the county convention and elected her.”

Related Coverage:

  1. Search Underway For 2 Women In Oklahoma After Suspicious Disappearance
  2. Foul Play Suspected After 2 Women Disappear In Oklahoma Panhandle
  3. Search For 2 Missing Oklahoma Women Receives National Attention


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