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New investigator takes over fatal Flora fire case

FLORA, Ind. (WLFI) – A new detective is working the Flora house fire that killed four sisters in November 2016. Investigators with Homeland Security said the fire was intentionally set.

In January, a $5,000 reward was offered to find the person or persons responsible for the fire. Since then, Indiana State Police troopers said they have received hundreds of tips.

ISP Sgt. Kim Riley explains where they are in the investigation, and why investigators are reaching out to the community.

“I don’t want him or Gaylin [Rose] to think that the girls weren’t special to us, to Flora, because they were,” Flora resident Joretta Tinsman said.

Tinsman has lived in Flora her whole life, and is friends with the girls’ grandfather. She said she enjoyed seeing the girls outside.

“They’d always be out in the yard playing and people say … they miss seeing them out there on the corner playing,” said Tinsman.

Riley said Detective Brock Russell has taken over the case. The initial detective was recently promoted.

“We’re working, definitely working, on the case and this is not something that’s went cold,” said Riley.

He said investigators are currently sorting through tips to solve the crime. But he wants people to contact police with anything they think may help solve this case.

“People are realizing what’s going on, and how the case is going along,” Riley said. “We have been getting more information from the public, people are asking questions, and they’re giving us answers to some of the questions that we’ve been asking.”

Earlier this year, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security determined the fire was intentionally set.

WLFI in West Lafayette reached out to the department’s office of public affairs. It responded by saying, they “generally do not disclose information about an ongoing investigation. All involved partners are committed to obtaining justice for the victims of the November 2016 tragedy in Flora.”

“That’s what we all wish for is that somebody would be charged with killing the girls, both the two in Delphi and the four here in Flora,” said Tinsman.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the ISP Arson Hotline at 800-382-4628.

$185 has been donated by citizens to be used as an additional reward.  Contributions can be sent to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security at 302 W. Washington Street Room E208, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46204.

To make sure funds go to the appropriate account, the memo line should read “Flora Fire Reward.”

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