Hell in the heartland Murder, meth, and the case of two missing girls

Jax Miller

Book - 2020

"The stranger-than-fiction cold case from rural Oklahoma that has stumped authorities for two decades, concerning the disappearance of two teenage girls and the much larger mystery of murder, police cover-up, and an unimaginable truth... On December 30, 1999, in rural Oklahoma, sixteen-year-old Ashley Freeman and her best friend, Lauria Bible, were having a sleepover. The next morning, the Freeman family trailer was in flames and both girls were missing. While rumors of drug debts, revenge,... and police collusion abounded in the years that followed, the case remained unsolved and the girls were never found. In 2015, crime writer Jax Miller--who had been haunted by the case--decided to travel to Oklahoma to find out what really happened on that winter night in 1999, and why the story was still simmering more than fifteen years later. What she found was more than she could have ever bargained for: jaw-dropping levels of police negligence and corruption, entire communities ravaged by methamphetamine addiction, and a series of interconnected murders with an ominously familiar pattern. These forgotten towns were wild, lawless, and home to some very dark secrets"--

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Subjects
Genres
Mystery fiction
Suspense fiction
True crime stories
Case studies
Biographies
Published
New York : Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC [2020]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Item Description
Includes index.
Physical Description
319 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
ISBN
9781984806307
1984806300
Main Author
Jax Miller (author)
  • Prologue
  • Section 1: The fire.
  • Mother, Kathy Freeman
  • Daughter, Ashley Freeman
  • Father, Danny Freeman
  • Best friend, Lauria Bible
  • One body
  • One woman, Lorene Bible
  • The scene of the crime
  • The prime suspect
  • Day two and the BBI
  • Section 2: Corruption.
  • The initial theories
  • Son, Shane Freeman
  • The alleged cover-up of Shane Freeman
  • Boyfriend, Jeremy Hurst, and Pop Pop, Glen Freeman
  • The last letter of Kathy Freeman
  • The murder of DeAnna Dorsey
  • Section 3: Drugs.
  • The most toxic place in America
  • The outlaw lands
  • The outlaw lands (continued)
  • East of Welch
  • The ballad of John Paul Chapman
  • The confessions
  • Section 4: Later leads.
  • The edges of Oklahoma
  • Another avenue
  • Chetopa
  • The searches of Chetopa
  • Revival
  • "This place is ate up."
  • Section 5: The arrests.
  • The arrest
  • Ronnie Dean "Buzz" Busick
  • The insurance-verification card
  • David "Penny" Pennington
  • Like lightning
  • No end.
Review by Booklist Reviews

On December 30, 1999, Ashley Freeman celebrated her sweet sixteen surrounded by her parents, Danny and Kathy, and best friend Lauria Bible. By dawn, the celebration turned to tragedy when the Freeman trailer was consumed by fire. The bodies of Danny and Kathy were discovered among the ashes, dead by gunshot wounds. To this day, Ashley and Lauria remain missing. Wild rumors and accusations swirled around their small, rural Oklahoma community while the investigation remained at a standstill. Miller spent years interviewing the families and investigating leads, exploring the two predominant theories: police corruption and drug-related retaliation. There are no easy, certain answers with the Freeman-Bible case, though a 2019 arrest offers hope for closure. Miller (Freedom's Child, 2015) navigates the delicate intricacies of the case with compassion and respect for all involved, never losing his focus on Ashley and Lauria. Harrowing, beautifully written, and filled with unexpected twists, readers won't be able to put down this book until they reach the very last word. A new true-crime classic that is sure to engross fans of the genre. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Crime novelist Miller (Freedom's Child) debuts with a captivating ride through the frustrating twists, turns, and dead ends of a horrifying murder case. On Dec. 30, 1999, a suspicious fire destroyed Danny and Kathy Freeman's trailer home outside rural Welch, Okla. The Freemans' burned bodies showed that they had been shot to death, and their 16-year-old daughter, Ashley, and Ashley's best friend, Lauria Bible, who had also been in the trailer at the time, went missing. For years, the Freeman and Bible families struggled against inept investigators, drug dealers who might have had reason to kill Danny and Kathy, and a flood of false leads in their search for Ashley and Lauria. In 2015, Miller moved to Welch, where she spent four years investigating the case. She brings a heartbreaking and compassionate voice to her take on those affected by the generational poverty, environmental mining pollution, and widespread methamphetamine addiction now endemic in the region's once ore-rich mining towns. The two girls remain missing to this day, though the arrest in 2019 of a suspect, whose case is ongoing, offers some hope of resolution. This is as much an exploration of the underlying social issues that feed into a system of fear and violence as it is about the crime itself. A vivid storyteller, Miller proves herself as adept at nonfiction as fiction. Agent: Zoe Sandler, ICM Partners. (July) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"The stranger-than-fiction cold case from rural Oklahoma that has stumped authorities for two decades, concerning the disappearance of two teenage girls and the much larger mystery of murder, police cover-up, and an unimaginable truth... On December 30, 1999, in rural Oklahoma, sixteen-year-old Ashley Freeman and her best friend, Lauria Bible, were having a sleepover. The next morning, the Freeman family trailer was in flames and both girls were missing. While rumors of drug debts, revenge, and police collusion abounded in the years that followed, the case remained unsolved and the girls were never found. In 2015, crime writer Jax Miller--who had been haunted by the case--decided to travel to Oklahoma to find out what really happened on that winter nightin 1999, and why the story was still simmering more than fifteen years later. What she found was more than she could have ever bargained for: jaw-dropping levels of police negligence and corruption, entire communities ravaged by methamphetamine addiction, and a series of interconnected murders with an ominously familiar pattern. These forgotten towns were wild, lawless, and home to some very dark secrets"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The award-winning author of Freedom’s Child describes how her investigation into the 1999 unsolved disappearance of two teens from rural Oklahoma unearthed shocking links to police corruption, regional meth addiction and an ominous pattern of murders.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

“There is, in the best of us, a search for the truth, to serve the living and dead alike...Jax Miller is one of those people and Hell in the Heartland is one of those books.”—Robert Graysmith, New York Times bestselling author of ZodiacAs seen in Marie Claire's "Best True Crime Books of 2020" • HuffPost • OK! Magazine • CrimeReads • LitHub's "Best New Summer Books"S-Town meets I'll Be Gone in the Dark in this stranger-than-fiction cold case from rural Oklahoma that has stumped authorities for two decades, concerning the disappearance of two teenage girls and the much larger mystery of murder, possible police cover-up, and an unimaginable truth...On December 30, 1999, in rural Oklahoma, sixteen-year-old Ashley Freeman and her best friend, Lauria Bible, were having a sleepover. The next morning, the Freeman family trailer was in flames and both girls were missing.While rumors of drug debts, revenge, and police corruption abounded in the years that followed, the case remained unsolved and the girls were never found.In 2015, crime writer Jax Miller--who had been haunted by the case--decided to travel to Oklahoma to find out what really happened on that winter night in 1999, and why the story was still simmering more than fifteen years later. What she found was more than she could have ever bargained for: evidence of jaw-dropping levels of police negligence, entire communities ravaged by methamphetamine addiction, and a series of interconnected murders with an ominously familiar pattern.These forgotten towns were wild, lawless, and home to some very dark secrets.