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Victim’s Stepbrother Charged With Murder in Fatal Guthrie Center Fire

Victim’s Stepbrother Charged With Murder in Fatal Guthrie Center Fire
Victim’s Stepbrother Charged With Murder in Fatal Guthrie Center Fire

GUTHRIE CENTER, Iowa -- An Ames man is now accused of setting the fire that killed his stepsister and her cousin in May.

Guthrie County authorities announced the arrest of Patrick Ryan Thompson on Wednesday afternoon for his alleged role in setting the fire that killed his stepsister, 12-year-old Paige Exline, and her cousin, 16-year-old Shakiah Cockerham, on May 15th.

The two girls were staying at their grandmother's home in Guthrie Center when it caught fire. The girls' grandmother and uncle were also injured in the fire. Authorities immediately expected arson as a cause. Thompson is being charged with two counts of First Degree Murder, two counts of Attempted Murder and one count of Arson.

Thompson is Paige Exline's stepbrother and a stepson to Paige's father, James Exline. Authorities also announced Wednesday that James Exline is being charged with two counts of sexually abusing a minor child in another investigation. James' son and Paige's brother, Noah Exline, is already awaiting trial for allegedly sexually abusing Paige.

Authorities say their investigation into all of these matters is still ongoing and are asking the public for continued help in the cooperation.