Court documents detail alleged plot targeting 2 Kansas women

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The four people arrested in connection to the disappearance of two Kansas women are allegedly members of an anti-government group who plotted the killings, even going as far as buying burner phones, according to court documents released Monday.

Veronica Butler, 27, and Jilian Kelley, 39, both of Hugoton, Kansas, were reported missing in March. The Texas County Sheriff’s Department in Oklahoma said the women were traveling to pick up children but never arrived at their destination.

Over the weekend, four people — Tifany Adams, 54; Tad Cullum, 43; Cole Twombly, 50; and Cora Twombly, 44 — were arrested in connection with their disappearance. They each faced multiple charges, including suspicion of murder and kidnapping.

The four affidavits made public on Monday show how investigators pieced together evidence in the case of two missing Kansas women. A judge had originally sealed the court documents but allowed access Monday morning.

The Texas County Sheriff's Department requested the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to investigate the suspicious disappearance of 27-year-old Veronica Butler and 39-year-old Jilian Kelley (Courtesy: OSBI)

The affidavits detail the connection between the four people who have been arrested in the alleged kidnapping and murders of Kelley and Butler on Saturday, March 30.

The car

Investigators say Butler was on her way to have a court-ordered supervised visit with her two children in Oklahoma. The court documents say Kelley was the approved supervisor. They were going to take Butler's daughter to a birthday party, but when they did not arrive, Butler's family began looking for them.

Investigators have evidence that the women got to Highway 95 and Road L at 9:40 a.m. They were allegedly scheduled to exchange custody at 10 a.m. with the children's grandmother five miles farther down the road at Highway 95 and U.S. 64 West, also known as Four Corners.

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Two of Butler's family members found their vehicle, abandoned, at Road L and contacted law enforcement.

The affidavits say evidence in and around the vehicle indicated a severe injury. Blood was seen along the road, Butler's glasses were on the ground near a broken hammer, and a pistol magazine was found inside Kelley's purse at the scene, but no pistol was found.

The grandmother

Tifany Adams (Courtesy: OSBI)

According to the affidavits, Adams is the children's grandmother. Her son, Wrangler Rickman, is their father and has legal custody. But the affidavits say Adams sometimes "refused to let Rickman have his children" and was particular about who should monitor Butler's Saturday visits.

The court ordered Adams to pay for the supervisor she preferred. Otherwise, Butler was to choose and pay for one of three approved supervisors.

According to the affidavits, Adams said her preferred person was unavailable for the March 30 visit. That individual allegedly told investigators a different story, saying Adams told her to take a couple of weeks off.

Because the preferred supervisor was not going to supervise the visit, Butler chose Kelley to go with her.

Investigators say Adams told them Butler canceled the visit during a phone call at 9 a.m. on March 30. Butler's phone records confirmed a phone call, the affidavit explained, but that was the same time Butler was in Hugoton picking up Kelley.

Adams told investigators she was home at the time the women disappeared.

Court records show Rickman was in a rehabilitation facility in Oklahoma City.

Death threats

Tad Cullum (Courtesy: OSBI)

The custody battle between Butler and Rickman began in February 2019. The affidavits claim that there are recordings where Rickman talks about death threats made by his mother and her boyfriend, Tad Cullum. The affidavit is not clear about who the death threats were against.

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Last month, Butler requested extended visitation with the children. A hearing on her request was scheduled for Wednesday, April 17. Her attorney told authorities that it was likely Butler would have been granted unsupervised visits at the hearing.

Burner phones

Cora Twombly (Courtesy: OSBI)

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation received a search warrant for Adams' phone and gained information including web searches for taser pain level, gun shops, prepaid cellular phones, and how to get someone out of their house.

A juvenile allegedly told the OSBI that she overheard conversations about Butler. She claimed Cora Twombly said she — as well as Adams, Cullum, and her husband, Cole — were involved in the deaths.

Cole Twombly (Courtesy: OSBI)

The OSBI says, according to the teen, that Adams provided burner phones to use so the group could communicate without using their personal phones. The teen told investigators she saw two burner phones charging on Cora Twombly's nightstand.

The four suspects, as well as another unidentified man, are part of an anti-government group with a religious affiliation, the teen explained to investigators. That group, identified as "God's Misfits" in the affidavit, met weekly, Oklahoma authorities determined.

The morning of the disappearance

Investigators say the Twomblys told a relative they were going to be on a "mission" on the morning of March 30. The OSBI says they arrived back home around noon and told a relative to clean the pickup they had been in.

The relative asked what happened and was allegedly told "that things did not go as planned, but that they would not have to worry about her (Butler) again."

According to the affidavit, the Twomblys blocked the road to divert Butler and Kelley to where Adams, Cullum, and another man were.

The relative asked why Kelley had to die, and Cora Twombly allegedly said Kelley wasn't "innocent" because "she had supported Butler." When the unidentified relative asked if the bodies were put in a well, and Cora Twombly allegedly replied, "Something like that."

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Investigators explained that the relative told them there had been previous unsuccessful attempts to kill Butler. One alleged attempt would have involved throwing an anvil through Butler's windshield, but she never came out of her house that day.

The OSBI says that while investigators were interviewing the relative, Cora and Cole Twombly tried to get to the relative, and were verbally aggressive.

Stun guns and the phones

Adams allegedly bought five stun guns in Guymon, Oklahoma, on March 23. Investigators also say she bought three prepaid cellular phones on Feb. 13.

The OSBI says information related to location services and phone usage shows that all three phones were at the area where Butler's car was located, and the last known location of Butler and Kelley at the time of their disappearance.

The investigators say the phones were first powered on at or near Cullum's home at different times before March 30, and that there is evidence of two of the phones being at the Twombly residence.

The OSBI says that after the women disappeared, the phones were at another person's property in a pasture where fresh dirt work had been done. All of the pre-paid phones allegedly stopped transmitting on the morning of March 30 near the fresh dirt site and near the Twombly home.

Fresh dirt

The person who owns the land where the dirt work was done says Cullum rents the pasture. The owner says Cullum asked, on March 28 or 29, if he could cut a tree down, remove a stump, bury some concrete and do dirt work. The owner said Adams was with Cullum during the request. The owner gave Cullum permission.

The landowner said Cullum did the work with a skid steer on March 30, and the skid steer was gone by noon. At the site, less than nine miles from where Butler and Kelley disappeared, authorities found a hole had been dug, filled back in, and then covered with hay.

During a Monday press conference, authorities confirmed Butler and Kelley are dead. The affidavits did not say anything about the bodies being found at the location, and authorities have not provided any additional details.

Butler's children are safe, authorities said Monday.

All four suspects are being held without bond in the Texas County Jail and are scheduled to make an initial court appearance Wednesday morning, said Texas County Court Clerk Renee Ellis.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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