Three years after intentionally set fire kills four sisters, investigators stay tight-lipped

News 18 reached out to several officials who are involved in the investigation to ask for updates. They all told us "no comment."

Posted: Nov 21, 2019 8:59 AM
Updated: Nov 21, 2019 6:54 PM

FLORA, Ind. (WLFI) — Three years to the day after an intentionally set fire killed four Flora sisters, Indiana State Police say it is not a cold case.

However, Sgt. Kim Riley said not many arson cases are ever solved because of lack of evidence. He explained most of the evidence is burned in the fire, so there is little to no physical evidence for investigators to use.

So what does that mean for the family of Kionne, Keyara, Kerriele and Keyanna?

News 18 is looking back on everything that has happened in the investigation into the fire that killed the girls. 

The fire happened on Nov. 21, 2016 at a home on the corner of Columbia and Division streets in Flora. Kionne, 5, Keyara, 9, Kerriele, 7, and Keyanna, 11, did not make it out of the home alive. Their mother, Gaylin Rose, was the only one who survived. She now lives in California.  

Two months after the fire, in Jan. 2017, it was ruled as arson. 

In June of 2017, the fire investigator assigned to the case resigned.

In October of 2017, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) claimed the investigation into the fire seemed like a cover up. However, Indiana State Police denied those allegations.

In November of 2017, two officials involved in the case both resigned. That included the Carroll County Prosecutor and Flora Fire Chief. One thing to note; Flora's Fire Chief who resigned is the son of the fire investigator who resigned during this case as stated above. 

Todd Trent was named Flora's new Fire Chief in January of 2018. 

Carroll County named a new prosecutor in January of 2018. 

Also in January of 2018, the Indianapolis Fire Department conducted a peer review of the fire. This means IFD looked over the content of the case to make sure everything is in order.

In November of 2018, the mother of the girls sued the landlord of the home. Joshua Ayres owns the property. Rose sued him along with his business partner Troy Helderman, and their company Birch Tree Holdings.

Also in November of 2018, ISP told News 18 there are "solid persons of interest in this case."

Investigators are tight-lipped on this case. News 18 reached out to ISP First Sgt. Jerry Holeman and Sgt. Kim Riley, who are involved in the investigation, to ask for updates. 

They told us "no comment."

News 18 also asked if anyone is withholding information in the case. Investigators gave us the same reply. 

At this time, we do not know if any progress has been made on the investigation in the past 365 days.

Community members are shocked by that.

"I was definitely expecting more answers by now. I mean the only thing we do know is that it's arson," said Flora resident Jenna Seward. "And I feel like three years later we should have more answers other than just arson, or a lead of some sort."

One thing that has not changed since the investigation began is the house where it happened. 

Although the home still stands, ISP said they are done investigating the home.

Sgt. Kim Riley explained whatever happens to the home is all up to the owner.

News 18 asked Riley if the house needs to stay untouched because of the ongoing investigation, and he said it does not.

According to Riley, ISP has not asked the owner of the property to keep the house in the condition it is in. Currently, it looks as if it has not been touched since the fire. 

There is still visible damage on the exterior of the home. The windows are boarded and the front porch is falling apart.

There are old toys on the front porch, which look to have belonged to the girls.

The people living in Flora want something done about it. 

"I've heard different people in the community say 'Oh we just need to tear it down and hopefully then it'll help people heal,'" said Seward. "I mean I hope we can have answers quick so it's justice for the mom and the girls."

News 18 reached out to the owner of the building, Joshua Ayres, who did not return our message.

ISP released a statement this week saying there are two people actively working this investigation. 

If you have any information on this investigation call the arson hotline at 1-800-382- 4628.

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