How Kansas women’s disappearance on a drive to pick up kids led to 4 arrests in Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY — A two-week search for two missing Kansas women came to a fatal end last weekend when Oklahoma authorities confirmed the two were dead and announced the arrests of four people allegedly belonging to an anti-government group calling itself “God’s Misfits.” .

Veronica Butler, 27, and Jilian Kelley, 39, of Hugoton, Kansas, disappeared on March 30 while driving to pick up Butler’s two children for a birthday party. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation confirmed Tuesday that the bodies found in Texas County were those of the two women.

One of the suspects charged in the case is the children’s grandmother, who authorities say had a bitter custody dispute with Butler. The four face charges including murder and are expected to make their first court appearance on Wednesday in Guymon, in Oklahoma’s rural panhandle.

Here are some things you need to know about the case.

Investigators have been tight-lipped about the case since the car Kelley and Butler were riding in was found in a rural area of ​​Texas County along the Kansas border. But arrest affidavits released Monday painted a gruesome picture of the scene.

According to court records, there was blood on the road and Butler’s glasses were found near a broken hammer. Kelley’s bag contained a pistol magazine, but authorities announced they had not found a firearm.

Evidence suggests the killings were planned, according to the arrest affidavit, which states that Tifany Adams, the grandmother of Butler’s children, purchased prepaid cellphones and five stun guns. Her internet searches included inquiring about pain levels using the weapons, according to the affidavits.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation announced this weekend that they had found two bodies, more than two weeks after the women disappeared. The state medical examiner’s office has not yet released a report revealing how they were killed.

Investigators say Butler was involved in a custody battle with Adams and her son and was only allowed supervised visits with the children on Saturday. According to the affidavits, Kelley was authorized to supervise the visits.

Kelley was the wife of a pastor and mother of four children. Her husband, Heath Kelley, was pastor of the First Christian Church in Hugoton. In recent months, he had taken a new job at Willow Christian Church in Indianola, Nebraska, but had not yet started there.

At Willow’s sister congregation, McCook Christian Church, Sunday services opened with news of the killings. “We had longed for a different outcome,” a pastor told the congregation during the service, which was posted on Facebook.

Messages left with several members of Butler’s family were not returned

All four suspects are charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder. They are being held without bond at the Texas County Jail in Guymon.

In addition to Adams, 54, the others charged are Tad Cullum, 43; Cora Twombly, 44; and her husband Cole Twombly, 50, both of Texhoma, Oklahoma.

Tuesday’s court records did not indicate whether there were attorneys who could speak on their behalf. Relatives of Tad Cullum and the Twomblys did not return phone messages seeking comment. Tifany Adams’ stepmother, Elise Adams, said she had no information about the case.

According to a witness who spoke to OSBI investigators, all four suspects were part of “an anti-government group that had religious beliefs,” the affidavit said. OSBI investigators learned that the group called itself “God’s Misfits” and held regular meetings at the home of the Twomblys and another couple.

Tifany Adams, who was involved in the custody dispute with Butler, is the current chairman of the Cimarron County Republican Party, according to Nathan Dahm, chairman of the Republican Party of Oklahoma. Cimarron County is the westernmost county at the tip of the Oklahoma Panhandle with a population of less than 2,300.

Dahm said state party officials did not know Adams. He said that given how rural the county is, “it could have been three people who showed up at the county convention and got her elected.”

All four suspects were scheduled to make their initial appearance in Texas County District Court on Wednesday.

During an initial appearance in Oklahoma, a judge will typically review the formal charges and enter a not guilty plea on the suspect’s behalf. The judge will also determine whether the defendants have hired an attorney or are represented by a state-appointed attorney and will schedule a new court date for the defendants to appear.


Hollingsworth reported from Mission, Kansas.