2 bodies found in rural Oklahoma as 4 suspects face murder charges in case of missing women

Apr 15, 2024, 4:19 PM | Updated: 4:46 pm

Jilian Kelley and Veronica Butler were driving with one another to pick up children, according to t...

Jilian Kelley and Veronica Butler were driving with one another to pick up children, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Mandatory Credit: Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation via CNN Newsource

(CNN) — Authorities are working to identify two bodies found in rural Oklahoma on Sunday, a day after four people were arrested on murder and kidnapping charges in connection with the disappearance of two women late last month.

Officials with the agency and the FBI offered condolences at a Monday news conference to the families of Veronica Butler, 27, and Jilian Kelley, 39, while emphasizing the bodies recovered in Texas County remain unidentified. Still, Butler and Kelley are not believed to be alive, added Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Hunter McKee.

In the meantime, investigators are confident that four people arrested this weekend are linked to their disappearance and the public doesn’t face any danger related to the case, McKee said.

“Based on the evidence and the information that we were able to obtain throughout the entire investigation – what was found inside of the vehicle, witnesses, family, friends of the victims that we were able to talk to throughout this entire process – we were able to gain the information to determine that these four people were responsible for both of these women going missing,” McKee said.

Authorities on Saturday arrested 43-year-old Tad Bert Cullum, 54-year-old Tifany Machel Adams, 50-year-old Cole Earl Twombly and 44-year-old Cora Twombly in Texas and Cimarron counties, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said in a news release.

“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,” the release said.

Each of the suspects is scheduled to make an initial court appearance on Wednesday morning, online court records show. It’s unclear if they have lawyers.

Butler and Kelley were traveling together to pick up children but never made it to the pickup location, the Texas County Sheriff’s Department said in an “endangered missing advisory” posted March 30. Their vehicle was found abandoned near Highway 95 in Oklahoma’s Texas County, south of the state border with Kansas, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said.

Evidence in and around the vehicle helped investigators determine that “there was foul play involved,” McKee told reporters Monday, noting the children were safe. McKee declined to characterize the evidence further, citing the ongoing investigation.

The two bodies recovered Sunday were found in a “very rural area,” McKee said, adding the Oklahoma medical examiner’s office for both would determine identity, plus cause and manner of death.

“This case did not end the way we hoped. It has certainly been a tragedy for everybody involved,” Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Director Aungela Spurlock said Monday.

CNN has reached out to police for information regarding any relationship between the suspects and the missing women.

This is a developing story and has been updated.

CNN’s Dakin Andone and Elizabeth Wolfe contributed to this report.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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2 bodies found in rural Oklahoma as 4 suspects face murder charges in case of missing women