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What we know about the 4 people accused of kidnapping and killing 2 women in Oklahoma


By Rosa Flores, Sara Weisfeldt and Andy Rose, CNN

(CNN) — The four people accused of kidnapping and killing two women in Oklahoma last month are set to make their first court appearances Wednesday morning in a case allegedly connected to a religious anti-government group and a custody battle.

The charges stem from the disappearances and deaths of Veronica Butler, 27, and Jilian Kelley, 39, in a rural area of the Oklahoma panhandle near its border with Kansas.

The two women were driving together from Hugoton, Kansas, to Four Corners, Oklahoma, to pick up Butler’s children when they disappeared, according to the Texas County Sheriff’s Office in Oklahoma and court documents. Their vehicle was found abandoned near Highway 95 and Road L in Texas County, the sheriff’s office said.

This past weekend, two bodies were recovered in the same county, according to Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Hunter McKee. On Tuesday, the bureau said on Facebook that the remains were those of the two women.

On Saturday, four people were arrested on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said in a news release.

The suspects were identified as Tifany Machel Adams, 54, Tad Bert Cullum, 43, Cole Earl Twombly, 50, and Cora Gayle Twombly, 44, the bureau said. They were each accused of “arranging and planning, the deliberate, intentional, and unlawful taking away of the life of” Butler and Kelley, the charging documents state.

Adams was the grandmother of Butler’s children, and the two were in a custody battle, according to the probable cause documents. In addition, Adams and Cullum were in a relationship, and the Twomblys are a married couple, the documents state.

CNN has made attempts to determine whether the defendants have legal representation. Records do not indicate counsel has been obtained.

All four defendants are described as being part of “an anti-government group that had a religious affiliation,” according to statements made to investigators by Cora Gayle Twombly’s teenage daughter and recorded in the probable cause documents. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation later learned the group went by the name “God’s Misfits” and they met weekly, sometimes at the Twomblys’ residence, the probable cause documents state.

The daughter told investigators the defendants made “other attempts to kill Butler” in February, the documents state.

The defendants remain in custody ahead of Wednesday’s initial appearance hearing, McKee told CNN Tuesday.

What the documents allege

Butler’s visitation with her two children every Saturday had to be supervised, and Butler planned to have Kelley supervise the visit, according to the probable cause documents.

On March 30, Butler and Kelley were scheduled to pick up the children from Adams at about 10 a.m. and attend a birthday party, but they never made it to the event, according to the documents.

Butler’s family then located her abandoned vehicle in a rural area of Texas County and called police, the documents show.

“An examination of the vehicle and area surrounding the vehicle found evidence of a severe injury. Blood was found on the roadway and edge of the roadway. Butler’s glasses were found in the roadway south of the vehicle, near a broken hammer. A pistol magazine was found inside Kelley’s purse at the scene, but no pistol was found,” the probable cause documents state.

Butler’s and Kelley’s phones were actively sending signals to their carriers until about 9:42 a.m. and then stopped transmitting, the probable cause documents state. The phones have not been recovered, according to the documents.

State investigators extracted information from Adams’ phone that showed web searches for “taser pain level, gun shops, prepaid cellular phones and how to get someone out of their house,” the probable cause documents show. Adams also purchased five stun guns and three prepaid cell phones in the months and days leading to the women’s disappearances, according to the documents.

The documents do not say how the women were killed.

The FBI Oklahoma City field office said it is assisting in the investigation with a “dedicated team of agents, analysts, task force officers, evidence response personnel and tactical” teams.

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