IFD to review Flora fire investigation


INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Indiana State Police is asking an experienced group of investigators to take a look at the Flora fire investigation.

13 Investigates has learned that the Indianapolis Fire Department will conduct a peer review of the arson investigation into the house fire that killed four little girls in November 2016.

The review comes after an out-of-state fire investigator raised questions about early findings in the case by former arson investigator Dennis Randle.

Randle was the lead investigator on the case from the State Fire Marshal's office. He ruled that accelerants were discovered in multiple locations of the burned-out home where four sisters died.

13 Investigates broke the story detailing questions about Randle's findings. A Michigan fire investigator hired by the homeowner’s insurance company wrote scathing emails to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the State Fire Marshal's office questioning the accuracy of Randle's findings. The investigator said Randle's findings were not based on evidence. He also questioned the protocol used for collecting the evidence, saying it was not based on acceptable “cause and origin” fire investigation standards.

Indiana State Superintendent Doug Carter was not aware of the emails until 13 Investigates revealed WTHR had received copies of them. One week after Carter told 13 Investigates he would "find out about the [emails]", Randle resigned from his position at the State Fire Marshal's office

Nick McLeland, the new Carroll County Prosecutor, told 13 Investigates he will be meeting with ISP and other fire investigators to get up to speed on the Flora fire investigation. He said he doesn't want to "get in the way" of the investigation but simply wants to get up to speed and help in any way he can.

In a statement, Indiana State Police Captain Dave Bursten said, "It's a very common practice to do a peer review."

According to Bursten, IFD was asked to conduct the peer review in early December. Within days, IFD investigators went back to the fire scene for a first-hand look. IFD will also review all of the investigative reports on the case.

"Once completed, the review may provide further direction to advance the investigation," Bursten explained.

Anyone with information on the Flora Fire is asked to call (1-800) 382-4628.