Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

‘God’s Misfits’ appear in bullet-proof vests at first hearing over kidnap and murder charges

Victim Veronica Butler’s aunt said outside the court that her family ‘did not deserve this’

Dan Gooding
Wednesday 17 April 2024 18:13 BST
Oklahoma kidnap and murder suspects appear in court

The group now known as “God’s Misfits”, accused of kidnapping and murdering two mothers in Oklahoma, arrived for their first court appearances in orange jumpsuits and bullet-proof vests on Wednesday morning.

Tifany Machel Adams, 54; Tad Bert Cullum, 43; Cole Earl Twombly, 50; and Cora Twombly, 44 are all charged with murder, kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder, in relation to the deaths of Veronica Butler, 27, and Jilian Kelley, 39, last month.

Arrest documents obtained by The Independent, describe them as an anti-government group with religious affiliation, who go by the name “God’s Misfits”.

They were all arrested on Saturday, two weeks after Ms Butler and Ms Kelley vanished while going to pick up the younger woman’s children from Ms Adams - the paternal grandmother - in rural Texas County.

All four allegedly conspired to kidnap and kill the women, whose bodies were discovered on Sunday 14 April.

Each defendant arrived at the Texas County Courthouse in separate Sheriff’s Office cars, wearing orange jumpsuits, handcuffs and what appeared to be bullet-proof vests.

Top: Tifany Machel Adams, 54, and Tad Bert Cullum, 43. Bottom: Cole Earl Twombly, 50, and Cora Twombly, 40, at the Texas County Courthouse, Oklahoma, 17 April 2024 (KFDA News Channel 10)

Reporters asked each of them if they had anything to say, but none of the suspects acknowledged them.

Ms Adams stared straight ahead into the court building as officers walked either side of her, as did her partner Mr Cullum.

Both the Twomblys looked at the ground, with Ms Twombly trying to turn her face away from the cameras as a reporter asked “did you kill those women?” on her way out of the building.

Family members of the victims reportedly called Ms Adams a “b***h” as she was brought into court, while some had to be held back from trying to get to the suspects.

Veronica Butler’s aunt spoke to NewsNation, saying her neice “did not deserve that”.

“We didn’t deserve this. Our family didn’t deserve this,” she told reporter Brian Entin.

While their cause of death is still unknown, Ms Butler and Ms Kelley were allegedly ambushed on Highway 95, five miles short of their planned meeting point with Ms Adams on 30 March.

Tifany Adams (left) was allegedly in the midst of a “problematic” custody battle with Veronica Butler, investigators said (AP/Facebook)

Court documents state that Mr and Ms Twombly had parked their vehicle across the highway, diverting the women off at Road L.

This is the spot where the car was found abandoned a few hours later by Ms Butler’s relatives, who called the police.

Officers found signs of a “severe injury”, the documents said, with blood on the ground, a broken hammer and Ms Butler’s glasses left behind.

There was also a pistol magazine, but no sign of the weapon itself, in Ms Kelley’s purse.

Ms Butler was allowed supervised visits with her two children, ages six and eight, on Saturdays, investigators say.

Usually, that supervision was with a woman Ms Adams paid, but on March 29 she had told the mother that the supervisor was not available and to bring someone else. So Ms Butler asked Ms Kelley, a preacher’s wife, to accompany her.

Veronica Butler, 27, asked her friend Jilian Kelley, 39, to accompany her on 30 March 2024 (AP)

In an interview with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation later, the usual supervisor told officers that she was available and Ms Adams had told her to take a few weeks off instead.

The grandmother was in the middle of a “problematic” custody battle over her grandchildren, with her son Wrangler Rickman and Ms Butler both involved, the OSBI has said.

Ahead of Ms Adams’ arrest at the weekend, the children were still in her custody, documents stated, with Mr Rickman in a rehabilitation facility.

Ms Adams and the other three suspects allegedly conspired for at least a month to carry out their plan, making attempts to kill Ms Butler when she left her home in Hugoton, Kansas, in February.

The day before the two women disappeared, Mr and Ms Twombly told their teenage daughter that they were going on a “mission” the following day, the girl allegedly told the OSBI.

The 16-year-old told investigators that when the couple arrived home at around noon on 30 March, her mother told her that things “did not go as planned, but they would not have to worry about her (Butler) again”.

A few days before the women were reported missing, Ms Butler had filed petitions for more access to her children and a hearing was due to take place Wednesday.

Instead, the people accused of murdering her appeared in court.

Wednesday’s hearing was short, with the suspects hearing the charges against them. They are next due to appear on 15 May.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in