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New search for Welch girls using submersible cameras underway in Picher

6 SEARCH FOR MISSING WELCH GIRLS PKG_frame_6164.jpg
The Picher, Okla. water tower (KTUL photo)

PICHER, Okla., (KTUL) -- A 20-year-old search for the missing Welch girls continues to focus on abandoned mines in Picher.

Today, federal investigators began a two-day search using submersible cameras to look for the girls' remains.

“Everyone wants to bring these girls home," said investigator Gary Stansill.

It's a two-day push to find answers to a 20-year-old mystery involving Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman.

In a joint press conference today, local and federal investigators laid out a plan to search abandoned mines in Picher for the girls' bodies.

For the new first time, representatives with the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and enforcement are involved.

They’re the ones deploying the submersible camera into the mine shafts, but volunteers also have donated their time and an underwater drone that can show images hundreds of feet into the shaft.

There are hundreds of abandoned mines in the forgotten town, but Stansill says right now, they’re just focusing on four mines.

The four mines that have been identified are within a one-mile radius of the memorial for the missing girls, the last place they were seen alive, but due to the rough terrain and investigation, our cameras weren't allowed close to the sites.

Instead, we were provided video and photos from investigators.

It’s a group-wide effort that Lorene Bible would love to end with a discovery.

A mother longing for closure in her daughter’s disappearance.

The group has not said if they will be adding additional mines to their search.

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