Arrests made, bodies found feared those of two missing Kansas women

Oklahoma authorities have charged four individuals in the disappearance of two Hugoton, Kansas, women who left southwest Kansas for Oklahoma March 30 to pick up children for a birthday party, but never arrived at their destination.

Authorities confirmed the discovery of two bodies in a rural area of Texas County, Okla., on Sunday, but the bodies have not yet been positively identified by the state medical examiners office.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and Kansas law enforcement have been searching for 27-year-old Veronica Butler and 39-year-old Jillian Kelley, who both went missing in Oklahoma after traveling there together to pick up children for a birthday party. They never showed up at the destination, and their vehicle was found later that day abandoned on a rural highway near the Kansas-Oklahoma state line. Evidence of foul play launched the investigation, officials said.

OSBI says 43-year-old Tad Bert Cullum, 54-year-old Tifany Machel Adams, 50-year-old Cole Earl Twombly and 44-year-old Cora Twombly were arrested in Texas and Cimarron Counties. All four individuals were booked into the Texas County Jail on two counts of First-Degree Murder, two counts of Kidnapping and one count of Conspiracy to Commit Murder in the First Degree.

Oklahoma officials today described an intricate and intense investigation and arrest effort aimed at finding the women and the suspects and protecting the children involved.

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

OSBI spokesman Hunter McKee said Butler and Kelley are dead, and that the four defendants were alleged to be 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.

Dane Hicks is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate School at Quantico, VA. He is the author of novels "The Skinning Tree" and "A Whisper For Help." As publisher of the Anderson County Review in Garnett, KS., he is a recipient of the Kansas Press Association's Boyd Community Service Award as well as more than 60 awards for excellence in news, editorial and photography.

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