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Iowa Department of Public Safety
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

For immediate release:  


May 17, 2017


Guthrie Center Fire Investigation

GUTHRIE CENTER, Iowa -- Law enforcement officials with the Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the State Fire Marshal’s Office, along with the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner, have identified the cousins that died in the May 15th fire in Guthrie Center.  They have been identified as 16 year old Shakiah Cockerham and 12 year old Melanie “Paige” Exline, both of Guthrie Center. 

Shakiah and Paige’s uncle, 54 year old William Long, III suffered severe burns to his upper body and was flown to Omaha, NE, where he remains hospitalized for those injuries.  Their grandmother, 74 year old Shirley Exline, suffered minor injuries.

The Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office has concluded that the house fire was a result of Arson and therefore a criminal investigation into the Arson and deaths is taking place with the cooperation of the agencies listed above.

It is asked that anyone with information related to this investigation contact the Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office at (641) 747-2214.

Media Point of Contact:  Iowa DCI Assistant Director Mitch Mortvedt (402) 650-7458.



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