Grisly new details emerge from Oklahoma Panhandle double-murder investigation

This is a photo of pasture land in the Oklahoma Panhandle where the bodies of two Kansas women were found buried April 14. The photo was included in search warrant records filed with the Texas County Court Clerk.
This is a photo of pasture land in the Oklahoma Panhandle where the bodies of two Kansas women were found buried April 14. The photo was included in search warrant records filed with the Texas County Court Clerk.

The search for two missing Kansas women ended gruesomely April 14 in the Oklahoma Panhandle at the end of a two-day excavation of a possible burial site in a cow pasture.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation revealed in new court records that a chest freezer was found during the excavation and opened.

Inside were the bodies of Veronica Butler and Jilian Kelley, who had been missing since March 30.

The OSBI also revealed in the new court records that "personal items" were located in the hole after the bodies were removed. "These items did not belong to Butler or Kelley," an OSBI agent wrote. "This information was not released to the public."

The investigation into the disappearances resulted in first-degree murder charges against a grandmother, Tifany Adams, and three others even before the bodies were found. A fifth person has since been charged.

All five murder defendants have been described in court affidavits as members of an antigovernment group called God's Misfits. Prosecutors allege they killed the two women because of a child custody dispute.

Butler, 27, had come from Kansas to pick up her two children from Adams, their paternal grandmother. Butler had planned to take them to a birthday party. Kelley, 39, a pastor's wife, was along to supervise her visit.

Adams and Butler were in a "problematic custody battle" over the children, the OSBI revealed earlier. The grandmother had been taking care of the children for months at her home in Keyes.

Adams after her arrest made statements to law enforcement indicating she was responsible for the deaths, the OSBI revealed in April. The bodies were found on property leased by her boyfriend, Tad Bert Cullum, to graze cattle.

The case has attracted national media attention. The new details are contained in search warrant records filed in Texas County District Court last week.

Associate District Judge Clark Jett on Wednesday refused a defense request to seal the records from the public.

The burial site is described in the records as 8.5 miles from where Butler's abandoned vehicle was found west of an intersection on a highway.

Seized as evidence at the burial site were Wrangler blue jeans, sweatshirts, T-shirts, a black jacket, cloth gloves, ball caps, duct tape and and a sheathed black KA-BAR knife, the new records reveal. All were described as "with possible blood."

Also seized were a black saw handle, two ratchet straps, a "black taser/flashlight" and "electrical cord and small black tape."

Adams, 54, faces two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. She was charged April 12 in Texas County District Court.

Charged the same day were Cullum, 43, of Keyes, and a married couple, Cole Earl Twombly, 50, and Cora Twombly, 44, of Texhoma.

Charged April 24 was Paul Jeremiah Grice, 31, of Keyes, The OSBI reported in a court affidavit he has confessed to his involvement in the killings and the burial.

Their attorneys have not made any public comments about the accusations. Defense attorneys and prosecutors are now prohibited by judicial order from speaking about the cases outside of court.

Fundraisers on GoFundMe raised money for the families of Veronica Butler, left, and Jilian Kelley.
Fundraisers on GoFundMe raised money for the families of Veronica Butler, left, and Jilian Kelley.

The new documents do not reveal how the two women were killed. Oklahoma's chief medical examiner has said only that they were not shot. The freezer containing their bodies is the kind that has a lid on the top, commonly called a deep freezer.

The OSBI did disclose in the new documents that Grice had been seen on March 30 and 31 with a bandaged right hand.

A witness told the OSBI that Grice had asked him on April 17 how long DNA would last on clothing in the dirt in a hole 15 feet deep, according to one affidavit. Grice also had asked about how to get a "guy and his family" into Mexico.

The OSBI also revealed in the new documents that the Twomblys had two cellphones in the pickup they were driving at the time of their arrest. The OSBI reported "information related to locations services and phone usage" show both cellphones had been at the abduction site March 30 and then at the burial site.

Adams had purchased those cellphones and a third cellphone on Feb. 13 at a Walmart in Guymon, the OSBI reported.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Bodies of missing Kansas women were found in freezer, OSBI reveals