Arrests were made in connection with a fatal house fire that killed two youth on May 15th in Guthrie Center.
At a press conference Wednesday, Guthrie County Sheriff Marty Arganbright said 26-year-old Patrick Thompson of Ames was arrested and charged with two Class A Felonies for first degree murder, two Class B Felonies for attempted murder and a Class C Felony for first degree arson. According to the affidavit, investigators questioned Thompson of his whereabouts the day following a fatal house fire incident at 1005 Main Street in Guthrie Center on May 16th. The State Fire Marshall’s office determined the fire was a result of arson. During the investigation, there were multiple conflicting stories from individuals of Thompson’s whereabouts at the time of the fire. Two minors were found dead in the fire. They were 12-year-old Paige Exline and 16-year-old Shakiah Cockerham. Two other individuals suffered injuries including 54-year-old William Long and 74-year-old Shirley Exline, the homeowner. The State Medical Examiner determined that the two deaths were homicides. Thompson was arrested at his workplace in Ames Wednesday. Thompson was booked and remains in the Guthrie County Jail.
Paige was the sole witness and victim of two sexual abuse cases against her brother, 19-year-old Noah Exline and her father, 46-year-old James Exline. James was arrested by Greene County Sheriff’s office and charged with a Class A Felonies for his second offense for second degree sexual abuse and third degree sexual abuse. James is Patrick’s stepfather and in days before the arson incident, law enforcement informed him that he would be arrested for the same crimes the following week. James was already in the Greene County Jail for a probation violation. He remains in jail under a $1 million bond.
Noah is currently out of jail, but changed his plea to not-guilty on May 21st for seven Class B Felony charges for second degree sexual abuse of his sister Paige. James is the father of Paige and uncle to Shakiah. Noah is currently waiting for his trial, which is scheduled for September 26th.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation; State Fire Marshall’s office; Greene County Sheriff’s office; Jefferson, Ames and Nevada Police departments; and the Iowa State Patrol assisted the Guthrie County Sheriff’s office with the ongoing investigation.
Officials are asking for any information about the case to call the Guthrie County Sheriff’s office at 641-747-2214.