LAW & CRIME

Hell in the Heartland: Murder, Meth, and the Case of Two Missing Girls

Berkley. Jul. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781984806307. $27. CRIME
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In the early morning hours of December 31, 1999, in rural Oklahoma, a trailer home went up in flames. In the aftermath, the bodies of Danny and Kathy Freeman were found fatally shot, and their daughter, Ashley, and her best friend Lauria Bible, who had been spending the night, were missing. No trace of Ashley or Lauria was ever found, and no arrest was made for the murders. Rumors ran wild throughout the small community. Some believed it was a drug-related murder, while others thought the sheriff’s department was involved. But little evidence and an astounding degree of police incompetence left the case cold for years. Miller (Freedom’s Child; host, Hell in the Heartland) began investigating the crime in 2015. She interviewed family, friends, coworkers, townspeople, local and state authorities, and potential suspects, trying to piece together this mystery.
VERDICT Over the course of her investigation, the author falls down several rabbit holes following rumors, suspects, and other area murders, which can muddle the story at times. However, true crime fans who are fascinated by the dark side of rural life and police incompetence and open to a somewhat ambiguous ending will find much to savor.

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