Help needed in investigation of deadly arson

The Guthrie County sheriff’s office is asking the public for help in the investigation of a house fire in Guthrie Center early Monday that killed two girls.

The state fire marshal’s office has concluded that the house fire was the result of arson and is assisting with the investigation.

Shakiah Cockerham, 16, and Melanie “Paige” Elxine, cousins and students at Adair-Casey/Guthrie Center schools, were killed in the fire. Their uncle William Long III, 54, suffered severe burns to his upper body and remains hospitalized in Omaha. Their grandmother and owner of the house, Shirley Exline, 74, received minor injuries.

Anyone with information related to the investigation is asked to contact the Guthrie County sheriff’s office at 641-747-2214.

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