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'Suspicious disappearance' of 2 women prompts an investigation in Oklahoma

Veronica Butler, 27, and Jilian Kelley, 39, were traveling together to pick up children. “They never made it to the pickup location,” according to an endangered missing persons advisory.
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Oklahoma authorities are investigating the "suspicious disappearance" of two women who never showed up to pick up children last week.

Veronica Butler, 27, and Jilian Kelley, 39, were traveling together to pick up the children, according to an endangered missing persons advisory shared Saturday on the Facebook page of the Texas County Sheriff's Department.

“They never made it to the pickup location,” the advisory said. Their vehicle was later found abandoned on the side of a road.

Butler's stepmother, Guadalupe Torres, told NBC News that Veronica had been engaged in a heated custody dispute. Court records show a custody case was opened in 2021.

While it is currently unclear whose children the two women were looking to pick up, it is presumed both Butler and Kelley are friends, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Hunter McKee said.

The Texas County Sheriff’s Department requested the state agency’s assistance in the investigation, according to the bureau.

"Agents are still working around the clock on this to try to find where these women are, what may have occurred," McKee said, adding there are no suspects in the investigation, and no threats against the women have been reported.

Texas County Sheriff's Department

Butler has red hair, green eyes and several tattoos, the advisory said. Kelley has brown hair, blue eyes and a butterfly tattoo on her left forearm.

A Sunday Facebook post from Willow Christian Church in Indianola said the church would have a "time of prayer" for the women and encouraged attendees to leave a "favorite verse or note of encouragement for their families through this difficult time.

The Kansas City Star reported that Kelley is the wife of the church's new minister, Heath Kelley, who was appointed in November. Efforts to reach him and the church Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the women is asked to contact the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation at tips@osbi.ok.gov or 1-800-522-8017.

CORRECTION (April 4, 2024, 4:25 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the timeline of the custody battle. The case opened in 2021, not 2015.