The bodies of two girls, who were cousins, were found in the home in Guthrie Center. The Division of Criminal Investigation today identified the girls as 16-year-old Shakiah Cockerham and 12-year-old Melanie “Paige” Exline.
Iowa DCI Assistant Director Mitch Mortvedt says while the fire has been ruled an arson case, he can’t reveal many more details.
“As far as getting into the intricate details of that…that’s still part of the ongoing investigation and something we cannot discuss at this time,” Mortvedt told Radio Iowa. The girls’ uncle, 54-year-old William Long, III suffered severe burns and remains hospitalized. Their grandmother, 74-year-old Shirley Exline, suffered minor injuries. Mortvedt refused to say if investigators know who started the fire.
“For the integrity of the investigation, we can’t release that,” Mortvedt said. “As far as who the actors were, in regards to the arson, that is one of those pieces…we can’t reveal at this time.”
There have been no arrests in the case. Firefighters were sent to the home in Guthrie Center around 12:30 a.m. Monday.