Suspect in murders of missing mothers is ‘grandmother of one victim’s children’

Tifany Machel Adams is one of four arrested over Veronica Butler and pastor’s wife Jilian Kelley’s disappearance

Dan Gooding
Monday 15 April 2024 17:43 BST
Tifany Machel Adams is one of four arrested over Veronica Butler and her friend Jilian Kelley’s disappearance
Tifany Machel Adams is one of four arrested over Veronica Butler and her friend Jilian Kelley’s disappearance (Texas County Sheriff’s Department)

One of the four people arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering two women in Oklahoma is the paternal grandmother to one of the victim’s children.

Tifany Machel Adams, 54, was arrested on Saturday after two bodies, believed to be Veronica Butler and her friend Jilian Kelley, were discovered.

The women vanished two weeks ago on the way to pick up their children.

Ms Adams is grandmother to Ms Butler’s two children, aged six and eight, KVII reported. NewsNation also reported that the children may have recently stayed with their grandmother, and Ms Butler and Ms Adams had a difficult relationship.

Veronica Butler, left, and Jilian Kelley, right. On Saturday, April 13, 2024, Oklahoma authorities said they arrested and charged four people with murder and kidnapping over the weekend in connection with the disappearances of the two Oklahoma women (AP)

Ms Butler, 27, and Ms Kelley, 39, disappeared on 30 March in rural Texas County en route to Eva, Oklahoma.

The women were reportedly going to pick up Ms Butler’s children to attend a birthday party when they disappeared, Tim Singer, Ms Butler’s pastor from Hugoton Assembly of God told ABC News.

Their car was found abandoned near Highway 95 and Road L. Law enforcement treated their disappearance as “suspicious” from the beginning.

Texas County Sheriff Matt Boley told reporters on Monday that when his deputies first got to the scene “things just weren’t adding up”.

According to NewsNation, Ms Butler was in a custody battle with her children’s father and filed a petition with the court for full custody ten days before she disappeared.

The others arrested over the women’s disappearance were Tad Bert Cullum, 43, who KVII claims is Ms Adams’ boyfriend, Cole Earl Twombly, 50 and Cora Twombly, 44.

Clockwise from top left: Tad Bert Cullum, 43, Cora Twombly, 44, Tifany Machel Adams, 54, and Cole Earl Twombly, 50, were arrested and charged with murder (AP)

The Twomblys are married, according to court records seen by The Independent. But their connection to the other two suspects is unclear at this time.

The four have been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree. Law enforcement have not confirmed the bodies to be those of Ms Butler and Ms Kelley.

Following the arrests, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation confirmed that officers found there “was evidence to indicate foul play” shortly after the abandoned car was discovered.

At a briefing on Monday morning, investigators were not able to give many more details on the case, saying that investigations were still underway.

However, officials did say they did not believe the two women were still alive.

“This case did not end the way we had hoped. It has certainly been a tragedy for everyone involved,” OSBI Director Aungela Spurlock told reporters. “Our condolences go out to the family.”

District Attorney George H. Leach III said that arrest warrants were originally sealed to protect the children caught up in the case.

“We were successful. No shots were fired and the children were kept out of harm’s way,” the DA said of the arrests.

Those files have now been unsealed and The Independent has requested copies.

“There were people who thought law enforcement was asleep, that they weren’t doing anything” Mr Leach said at Monday’s briefing, explaining the multi-agency response.

“We’re probably talking in the range of a hundred law enforcement officers, truly no exaggeration, working night and day for fifteen days.”

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