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Missing Kansas women’s bodies found in ice chest buried in cow pastures, according to court documents

The bodies of two Kansas women who disappeared in the Oklahoma Panhandle in March were found in a chest freezer buried in a cow pasture, according to court documents linked to five suspects accused of murder and kidnapping.

Veronica Butler, 27, and her court supervisor in a child custody case, Jilian Kelley, 39, disappeared on March 30. Their remains were found April 14 on a property in Texas County, Oklahoma, less than 10 miles from where they disappeared. That’s according to an affidavit filed last week during the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s search warrant application.

It took authorities a day to locate the bodies after the exhumation began, court records show. Personal items that did not belong to Butler or Kelley were also found in the hole.

“A chest freezer was excavated and opened. Inside the chest freezer were the bodies of Butler and Kelley,” the affidavit said.

Five suspects have been arrested and are being held without bond at the Texas County Jail in Guymon. They are Tifany Adams, 54; Adams’ friend, Tad Bert Cullum, 43; Cole Earl Twombly, 50, and his wife, Cora Twombly, 44; and Paul Grice, 31, a prison spokesman said.

They are charged with two counts of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and two counts of kidnapping, according to court records.

All suspects except Cullum are represented by public defenders, said Tim Laughlin, executive director of the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System.

Laughlin declined to comment Wednesday afternoon. Cullum’s attorney listed in the lawsuits could not be reached for comment.

A spokesperson for the National Criminal Investigation Department said on Wednesday that there are no further suspects.

Cullum rented the property where Butler and Kelley were found for cattle grazing, court records show.

Butler and Adams were involved in a “problematic” custody dispute that began in February 2019 over Butler’s two children, the affidavit said. Adams is the mother of the children’s father, according to court records.

Butler had recently requested extended visitation from her children, and her attorney told the State Bureau of Investigation that she would most likely be granted unsupervised visitation during a court hearing on April 17, according to court records.

The investigating agency’s statement also indicated that the children’s father had said that Adams had sometimes not allowed him to have his children even though he had legal custody of them.

According to the affidavit, recordings in the custody case showed that Adams’ son had discussed death threats from Adams and Cullum. The affidavit did not specify who the death threats were directed at.

On the day she disappeared, a day when she had visitors, Butler planned to take her daughter to a birthday party.

Butler’s relatives found her abandoned 2009 Nissan Altima near Highway 95, and authorities documented evidence of “serious injuries” near the car, the affidavit said.

“Blood was found on the roadway and the edge of the roadway,” the affidavit said. “Butler’s glasses were also found in the roadway south of the vehicle, near a broken hammer. A handgun magazine was found in Kelley’s bag, but no handgun was found.”

Texas County authorities issued an “endangered missing advisory” later that day.

The State Bureau of Investigation investigation determined that Adams purchased three prepaid cellphones in February. According to court records, all three phones were in the area where Butler’s car was found around the time the women disappeared.

According to a search warrant, authorities collected evidence that included several items of clothing and other materials that may have blood on them. Some of the items included blue Wrangler jeans with a black belt, a brown sweatshirt, a black hooded sweatshirt, a reddish pink sweatshirt and a roll of duct tape.

The arrest warrants also indicate that a 16-year-old witness who spoke to investigators said the suspects belong to an “anti-government group” with a “religious affiliation” called “God’s Misfits.” According to court records, meetings were sometimes held at the Twomblys,” the witness said.

A Facebook page that appeared to belong to the group said: “We are NOT and have never been part of anything in Oklahoma. We are husband and wife spreading Jesus.”

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