Officer reflects on unsolved Flora case

Nov. 2—CARROLL COUNTY — On his way to Carroll County to speak at Monday morning's press conference announcing the arrest of Delphi resident Richard M. Allen, 50, in the deaths of Delphi teenagers Abby Williams and Libby German, Indiana State Police Supt. Doug Carter said he first stopped off at a gravel parking lot in Flora.

Sitting there quietly, the 40-year law enforcement officer stared across the street at a faded yellow house with boards up on its windows and a little purple ribbon donning its front porch.

And what happened nearly six years ago in that faded yellow house is one of the big cases that Carter said he'd next like to solve.

On Nov. 21, 2016, 11-year-old Keyana Davis, 9-year-old Keyara Phillips, 7-year-old Kerriele McDonald and 5-year-old Kionnie Welch were killed when a fire broke out in their Flora residence.

Also injured in the fire were the children's mother, Gaylin Rose, a Carroll County deputy and a Flora police officer.

The news of the fire and the girls' deaths tore through the sleepy town of a little over 2,000 people.

In January 2017, two months after the fire, investigators with the Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office determined the incident to be incendiary after accelerants were found in several locations of the home.

And though there have been leads in the investigation, no arrests have yet been made in the case.

"I hope that one day, we'll be able to do the same thing (find justice) for those four little girls," Carter told the Tribune after Monday's press conference. "While they're (Delphi and Flora) totally different cases, it's still the same tragic outcome."

Carter, who was sitting alone in a conference room of the Delphi United Methodist Church when the Tribune caught up with him, didn't go into details of the Flora investigation.

But he did note that it often just takes one person with information to come forward that could crack the case wide open.

"Fire cases, specifically fire cases that cause death, are very complicated," Carter said. "And there's a lot of science associated with them. They're very difficult. And we always know, generally speaking because there are some outliers, but generally speaking, human intelligence is really what gets ourselves to the end point. And we just don't have that yet.

"It's important for us to know who comes and goes, who went from that residence over a period of time," Carter added. "But I hope ... I hope people let their conscience be their guide because that's what it'll take. We can't just make it happen. All we can do is take the information and try to get it to the level where we can get a probable cause for an arrest. But we'd sure love to give that family some answers."

The Tribune could not reach members of the family for comment for this story, but their aunt Jacqueline Partlow did speak with the Tribune in November 2021 commemorating the fifth anniversary of the girls' deaths.

"I want to honor (the girls) by letting the world know that those girls would have been beautiful young ladies," she said back then. "They would have gone to school. They would have had dreams. I just want the world to know that those were precious human beings. ... They're going to be remembered well, every year, until the day I die. ... We're going to keep fighting for justice so they can rest in peace."

Anyone with information that can lead to an arrest in this case is urged to contact the Indiana State Police at 1-800-382-4628.