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Tulsa police help in search for missing Welch girls

Posted at 9:14 PM, Jul 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-29 23:22:13-04

TULSA, OK (KJRH) — A new hint of hope for a family - decades after two Welch girls disappeared.

At least four different agencies are teaming up to search for the remains of Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible in Picher on Tuesday.

The teens were kidnapped and believed killed nearly 20 years ago.

The Tulsa police dive team will join the search for the girls' remains.

“We’ve been in the Arkansas River and the Claremore Lake," said Cpl. Shawn Kite. "A lot of places you wouldn’t go to enjoy some pristine swimming.”

Tulsa police’s dive team specializes in evidence recovery.

Cpl. Kite’s 8-man dive unit is mobilized with as much as a month’s notice, or as little as a day.

But wherever they go - Kite can usually describe the water in one word: gross.

"We haven’t been called out to Jamaica or the Caribbean or anything like that, but we've searched Oklahoma ponds, lakes, rivers,” Cpl. Kite said.

When the dive team is called to a scene, they’ll use a truck - which has everything they need. It stores the air tanks that they keep above ground, so they can monitor the water, and the status of the person diving underneath.

“The gross ends up typically being zero visibility, so when we’re doing a search it’s by feel," Cpl. Kite said. "We use a lot of ropes and rope searching-assistant patterns to be able to conduct a search without being able to see what we’re doing.”

Lauria Bible’s mom Lorene tells 2 Works for You that Tuesday’s search - which the dive team will assist - has been nearly four months in the making.

That’s because there are several agencies that needed to coordinate, and wait for the ground to dry up after this spring’s heavy rain and flooding.

The search will include digging and ground penetrating radar, and cover mines and bodies of water.

The Tulsa dive team will face challenges in the search, but are going to use every tool at their disposal.

"There’s a lot of factors that go in to trying to locate a decomposed body in comparison with a relatively new body, just because the target is relatively hard to pick up on sonar,” Cpl. Kite said.

But through the challenges - giving closure is one of the reasons the dive team doesn’t hesitate to jump in the water.

"If it’s a loved one we’re looking for, then we know it’s a loved one we’re trying to recover and return to a family," said Cpl. Kite. "While I might not appreciate the smells that I’m in when I’m out there doing it, I’m doing it for a reason that’s worth it.”

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