Family, prosecutor thought Flora case would’ve been solved by now

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CARROLL COUNTY, Ind. – On the one-year anniversary of the fatal Flora fire that killed four young sisters, there are still no arrests in the arson.

If you ask the family of the victims or even the county prosecutor, both would tell you they thought this case would've been solved by now.

"It's a hard pill to swallow," said Jackie Partlow as she stared at the house on E. Columbia St. The porch where her great nieces used to practice their cheers invokes different feelings now.

Keyana Davis, 11, Keyara Phillips, 9, Kerriele McDonald, 7, and Konnie Welch, 5, all died in that fire. Their mother, Gaylin Rose, was rushed to the hospital with injuries.

In May, FOX59 Investigates sat down with Rose for her first interview.

“I want help. I need help. And I don’t’ feel like I’m getting it," she said.

As the family called for answers, the case was plagued with setbacks.

FOX59 learned about a breakdown in communication between investigating agencies. And then we discovered inaccurate information had been reported about the initial fire investigation. The day after we broke the story, a state fire investigator resigned.

Then we reported about possible conflicts of interest in the case. We learned two investigators had been assigned to the Flora case, despite one of them having previously investigated the other's wife.

Then, the Indiana NAACP made an explosive accusation.

"Missteps suggest that there was a mistake. I really believe that a lot of what has happened was intentional to cover up," claimed Barbara Bolling-Williams, the NAACP Indiana State Conference President.

State Police quickly fired back.

"Even the notion, even the notion that there is a perception of a cover up that regards an investigation that involves four little girls is not only unsubstantiated, but ladies and gentlemen, it strikes me at the core of who I am," said ISP Superintendent Doug Carter.

In that same press conference, Carter admitted the case had been delayed, but not hurt by any setbacks.

Not long after, two key players announced their departure: Flora Fire Chief Adam Randle and Carrol County Prosecutor Robert Ives.

The family questioned the timing, but Ives told us his decision had nothing to do with the case. However, he wouldn't have retired if he felt the case was closer to being solved.

"I you'd asked me in May, 'Do you think this case would still be open in November?' I would say no," he told FOX59. "That doesn't mean there aren't good leads. It doesn't mean there aren't suspects. It just means there isn't anything right now that makes you think, okay just a little bit more and we're going to do it."

"It’s hard to believe that it's been a year, because it feels like to us a few months ago, or a day ago," said Partlow. She called this past year a "mess." But she's hoping everyone starts working together for the sake of the girls.

And to the person who started all of this one year ago, she has this message.

"Just tell the truth so we can have peace. So my girls can rest in peace. Their mom, she'll never get a full understanding of this. She'll hurt until she dies."

A Carroll County caucus will decide who the next prosecutor will be. Prosecutor Ives hopes it will be his Deputy Prosecutor who is very familiar with the Flora case.

"I do regret it, but I don't think it's going to hurt anything." he said. "I have total confidence that people who know what they're doing will be around here."