FLORA, Ind. -- It's been almost a year since four Flora, Indiana sisters were killed when their house was set on fire and Indiana State Police say their case continues to evolve but with no answers on the horizon, the NAACP is getting involved on the family’s behalf.
At a press conference Thursday morning, Barbara Bolling, a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors, expressed the frustration of the lack of updates on the investigation.
"Nobody is talking to the family to even update them on the status of the investigation," Bolling said. "The NAACP is just getting involved but based the information we have; it appears the investigation has been bungled in some kind of way."
The deadly fire on November 21, 2016, has been ruled intentional, but no suspects have been arrested.
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On Thursday, Bolling compared the fire to the Birmingham Bombing in 1963, when four girls were killed when a bomb exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. That church had a predominantly black congregation.
"Here we have four young girls again, who have lost their lives," Bolling said. "Nobody has been brought to justice."
Bolling said the girls' family members have been harassed by people who used to investigate the fire.
Bolling also said she's suspicious of the investigation.
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"There are people out there who know," she said. "And it smells. I know, we're just getting started here, but it smells of a cover-up. Because how are you going to go and have an investigation for almost a year and it doesn't appear that we're any further along on this, and there seems to be a silence out there that's been imposed."
Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter responded to the NAACP’s comments and concerns Thursday afternoon.
“I don’t think anything has bothered me more than what’s occurred in Carroll County Indiana in my entire lifetime,” said ISP Superintendent Doug Carter.
Supt. Carter says the NAACP has not reached out to state police or investigators about the Flora case but he welcomes the dialogue and any suggestions they may have.
“Even the notion that there would be even the perception of a cover-up in regards to an investigation involving four little girls is not only unsubstantiated but strikes me at the core of who I am and the agency I represent,” said Supt. Carter. “I’d give my life to find out who killed those little girls.”
Supt. Carter admitted that Indiana State Police got a slow start on the investigation, originally believing the fire was accidental.
But after investigators ruled the fire intentional two months later, he says they have pooled every resource available into finding the girls’ killers.
“Anytime we’re talking about this case is a good day. So for that I say thank you to those folks who brought this out today,” said Supt. Carter. “I encourage the dialogue. I encourage their opinions. I encourage them perpetuating a model of awareness because somebody out there knows who did that to those four little girls.”
The fire, which broke out in the Columbia Street home in Flora in late November, claimed the lives of sisters Keyana, 11, Keyara, 8, Kerrielle, 7, and Kionne, 5. Their mother, Gaylin Rose, sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the fire and was airlifted from the scene.
Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact the Indiana State Arson Hotline at 1-800-382-4628 or Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 1-317-262-TIPS.
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