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Federal judge dismisses lawsuit surrounding five children who died in Indiana house fire

A house fire in Vevay, Indiana, on March 28, 2020 killed five children, including their older adult sister. (WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed against the Indiana Department of Child Services by parents of five adopted children who died in a house fire in Vevay in 2020.

The children, including their adult sister, died in the fire. They were identified as Paige Ridener, 25; James Ridener, 15; Jordan Ridener, 13; Joshua Ridener, 12; Emilee Ridener, 11; Elizabeth Ridener, 10.

Lisa and Darwin Ridener, the children’s parents, sued Child Services, claiming the children were illegally separated from them.

In March 2020, Child Services received a report that the children had been subjected to neglect and physical abuse, the lawsuit says. The report also alleged that Lisa Ridener was the perpetrator of the neglect.

A family case manager for Child Services interviewed the children, Lisa Ridener, as well as two other foster children who lived at the home.

Ultimately, Child Services found substantial evidence of abuse. A Switzerland Circuit Court judge later ordered for the children to be removed from the Rideners’ care.

The same judge later ordered the children stay in the Rideners’ home and be cared for by their adult sister, Paige.

Less than two weeks later on March 28, a fire broke out in the home. Paige and the five children died in the house fire. Paige’s boyfriend, 33-year-old Joseph Buchheit, was also at the home when the fire started.

Former reports from the Indiana State Police say Buchheit attempted to go back inside the home to get the siblings but was prevented by heavy fire and smoke.

The Indiana State Fire Marshal was unable to determine the cause of the fire. Investigators did not suspect foul play.

The Rideners claim Child Services acted illegally when it ordered them to stay away from the house with the children, leaving them under the supervision of Paige Ridener.

The federal judge dismissed the lawsuit against Child Services as the court concluded the Rideners’ allegations would not have changed the outcome of the case.

Vevay, Indiana, is in southern Indiana along the Indiana-Kentucky border.