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Flora Fire | Remembering the four sisters killed in intentionally set fire

The Chase for Answers | Remembering the Flora four

“Flora Fire: A Chase for Answers is a four-part series that aired on WISH-TV covering the 2016 deaths of four young girls in an intentionally set fire in Flora, Indiana.

The Chase For Answers | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

More than seven years have passed since the tragic fire that claimed the lives of Gaylin Rose’s daughters. But for her friend, Kathy Clendening, the memory remains fresh, etched into the fabric of every Monday morning.

“I know for her, every Monday for the past seven years, she wakes up and it’s the worst day of her life,” Clendening said.

The fire, which engulfed Rose’s two-story duplex in November 2016, took the lives of of her four girls, Keyana Davis, 11, Keyara Phillips, 9, Kerriele McDonald, 7, and Kionnie Welch, 5.

“She was a proud mother, ever moment in their life,” Clendening told I-Team 8’s Dakarai Turner. “Her girls were her joy. Just to take a photo of the girls sitting on the floor, praying over their food… just made her so happy.”

Even seven years later, Clendening fiercely defends her friend and questions the course of the investigation.

“People just don’t understand what happened that night unless you were there,” Clendening said.

“I don’t believe the investigation started the right way,” she said.

The tragedy left a void in the small town and a chasm of unanswered questions.

“When they were taken away, she was just gone,” Clendening said. “Her joy was gone.”

In Flora, a small town of just 2,100 people, the impact of the fire was profound.

Jen Brobst was a librarian at Caroll Elementary, where the girls attended school, at the time of the tragedy. She described the aftermath as “surreal.”

She says the library was turned into a counseling center in the days that followed to support the grieving students.

Now, in the school’s courtyard, a collection of benches bearing the names of all four girls serves as a tribute to their memory.

Liz Brobst, Jen’s daughter, and her Girl Scout troop created the benches as memorials after collecting thousands of bottle caps and having them melted down.

Liz would have graduated with the eldest girl, Keyana, and says she remembers them all for their positive attitude and happy spirit.

“They were always happy,” Liz said. “They were always ready for the day.”

“Especially Kionnie,” she said. “She was always my little buddy, especially at lunch. She would always give me a little hug. And I would just tell her to have an amazing day.”

It’s something she says she carries with her, even today.

“So, if I’m ever having a bad day, I always think of them and I live life for them,” Liz said.

As she closes in on her next milestone in life, Liz says she keeps that perspective and remembers in the hope that she can honor Keyana’s memory.

“I’m going to college and wanting to better my life for Keyana because she didn’t have that chance,” she said.

Liz says the benches in the courtyard serve as both a reminder and place of solace in the presence of her lost friends.

“Thinking about them now, it just makes me happy, like they’re here,” Liz said. “I feel them here and I feel that they’re happy and I hope they’re at peace.”

In the next part of this series, we talk to those closest to Gaylin and show you how the girls are still being remembered in Flora seven years after their deaths. We also have more on the investigation, including details we’ve uncovered that police admit could turn the case upside down.

Part 4 of the series “Flora Fires: A Chase for Answers” will air at 5 p.m. May 9 on WISH-TV.

The Chase For Answers | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3