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Questions, Rumors After Fire That Killed 4 Young Sisters

Investigators believe November fire was intentionally set
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2017 11:32 AM CDT
Questions, Rumors After Fire That Killed 4 Young Sisters
Crews investigate the scene of a house fire that killed four children on Nov. 21, 2016, in Flora, Ind.   (Joseph Paul/Journal & Courier via AP)/Journal & Courier via AP)

What is known: In the early morning hours of Nov. 21, a fire killed four young sisters in their Flora, Ind., home. What isn't known: the cause of the fire—or whether it was intentionally set. After the fire that killed Keyana Davis, 11; Keyara Phillips, 9; Kerriele McDonald, 7; and Kionnie Welch, 5, investigators initially said it may have started behind the family's fridge; two months later, it was ruled an arson fire, with investigators revealing that they had found accelerants. But since then, investigators have stopped speaking publicly about the ongoing probe, allowing rumors to fly in the small town, reports the Indianapolis Star in a look at the case. Some wonder whether a family member could be to blame; others, particularly those who saw the girls' single mother, 29-year-old Gaylin Rose, screaming frantically for her daughters after escaping the fire but being unable to save them, decry that idea.

There's also the complicating factor that the arson investigator at the state's Department of Homeland Security who determined the fire was intentionally set resigned after a private investigator consulting on the case called that finding into question, claiming it was based on speculation, as WTHR reported in June. Indiana State Police and the county prosecutor say they still believe the fire was arson. Rose didn't speak to the Star, but she told FOX59 in May that she was upset with how the investigation has been handled and the rumors that were flying. FOX59 has also found problems with the way the case was handled, including the fact that accelerants were initially reported to have been found in multiple spots but were actually found in just one, and last week the governor responded to the station. He wouldn't say much specifically, but noted, "Where there are wrongs, we'll get them right." (More fire stories.)

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