Investigator working Flora fire that killed four girls resigns after questions raised about case

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Victims of the fatal Flora fire.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – CBS4 has learned an Indiana Fire Marshal’s fire investigator assigned to the fatal Flora house fire that killed four young sisters in November has resigned.

Investigator Dennis Randle resigned Friday, according to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. They did not give a reason why he quit. He’s worked hundreds of fire investigations since joining the Indiana Fire Marshal’s office in 2012.

The move comes one day after CBS4 broke the story that accelerants were found in only one part of the house. That’s a major shift from what investigators, including Randle, originally reported when they said earlier this year that accelerants were found in several parts of the house.

The fire claimed the lives of four young sisters; Keyana Davis, 11, Keyara Phillips, 9, Kerriele McDonald, 7, and Konnie Welch, 5, after they were trapped inside the home in the 100 block of E. Columbia St.

Family members of the four victims said they were shocked over the news.

Dennis Randle (Photo courtesy of the Carroll County Comet).

“Now that we’ve watched what you put out, it’s only one spot in the house. Well what spot is that? Where is that spot at?” asked family member Jackie Partlow.

The victims’ grandfather Tracie Rose added, “What’s in the dark is coming into light. That’s all.”

State Police said the change came after further investigation when it was discovered that accelerants were only found in one part of the home. This means there’s only one place where the fire started.

CBS4 had asked State Police to look into the details of the fire after we obtained an email critical of the initial information. That email was written by a private fire investigator who also investigated the Flora fire. He claimed the state was wrong about the accelerants.

In that email, the private investigator wrote:

“The press release statement about ‘accelerants’ being discovered in ‘several’ locations is absolutely NOT based on any evidence discovered at the scene during the investigation; and the investigator Dennis Randle, was not performing a proper Origin & Cause Investigation based on the current procedures of NFPA 921 2016 edition to opine that opinion.”

State Police recently said they are watching “persons of interest” in the case. No arrests have been made.

The family of the Flora victims have so many questions about the case and now it’s adding one more to their list: Could this latest development hurt the chances of locking someone up for the arson?

“It’s gonna be hard,” said Partlow.

Rose added, “He ain’t gonna do nothing but walk.”

The answer is not yet clear. But if Rose’s suspicions are right, it would be another devastating blow to Gaylin Rose, the mother of the four young girls.

“This girl is destroyed. She lost everything in that fire,” said Partlow. “Her kids’ birthdays is coming up. You know what I’m saying? And all this stuff is coming out. Ain’t nobody calling to say, you know, are you okay?”

The Carroll County Prosecutor Robert Ives also expressed that while he understands the level of public interest in this investigation, he is asking all investigative agencies to avoid further discussion of this active investigation which could impact successful prosecution of this case in the future.

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