Bond Denied for 4 ‘God’s Misfits’ Defendants in Killing of 2 Kansas Women

Bond Denied for 4 ‘God’s Misfits’ Defendants in Killing of 2 Kansas Women
Tad Bert Cullum (top L), Cora Twombly (top R), Tifany Machel Adams (bottom L), and Cole Earl Twombly. (Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation via AP)

OKLAHOMA CITY—An Oklahoma judge ordered public defenders to represent four members of an anti-government group who appeared in court Wednesday on charges of kidnapping and killing two Kansas women.

The judge also entered not-guilty pleas and denied bail for Tiffany Adams, 54, and her boyfriend, Tad Cullum, 43, both of Keyes, Oklahoma, as well as Cole and Cora Twombly of Texhoma, Oklahoma.

Texas County Associate District Judge Clark Jett assigned the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System to represent all four defendants, OIDS Executive Director Tim Laughlin told The Associated Press. Mr. Laughlin declined to comment about any details of the case or the defendants, citing his agency’s policy.

“The reason we don’t comment is to protect our client’s privileges and our client’s interest throughout the trial process,” Mr. Laughlin said.

All four are charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy in the killing of 27-year-old Veronica Butler and 39-year-old Jilian Kelley of Hugoton, Kansas, who disappeared on May 30 while driving to Oklahoma to pick up Butler’s children and attend a birthday party.

During an interview with investigators, Ms. Adams, the children’s grandmother, admitted she was responsible for the deaths of Butler and Kelley, according to a prosecutor’s motion for the defendants to be held without bond.

“Adams, Cullum, Cora, and Cole have resources sufficient to organize and execute a complex murder,” OSBI Lt. Amie Gates wrote in an affidavit. “Therefore, they also have the resources to flee if given the opportunity.”

Ms. Adam and Mr. Cullum also own numerous firearms, and Mr. Cullum had a rifle, ammunition, body armor, and a “go-bag” prepared at his home, the affidavit says.

Authorities say Ms. Adams and Butler were in the middle of a bitter custody battle. Kelley, a pastor’s wife, went along with Butler as a court-approved observer to supervise the visit. They never showed up for the party, setting off a two week search that ended with the two couples’ arrests on Saturday and the discovery of the bodies on Sunday.

Arrest affidavits painted a gruesome picture of the scene where the woman’s car was found, not far from the rural highway intersection where Butler had arranged to pick up her son and daughter from Ms. Adams. Investigators found blood on the road and Butler’s glasses near a broken hammer.

According to a witness who spoke to Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents, all four suspects were part of “an anti-government group that had a religious affiliation.” The affidavits said they called themselves “God’s Misfits” and held regular meetings at the home of the Twomblys and another couple who Ms. Adams said watched the children the day the women disappeared.

Relatives of Tad Cullum and the Twomblys have not returned phone messages seeking comment. Tiffany Adams’ stepmother, Elise Adams, said she had no information to share.

Sean Murphy

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