Investigators: Abused girl was murdered just before her father’s arrest
By JARED STRONG
GUTHRIE CENTER — A 12-year-old girl who said she was sexually abused by her father and older brother died in a May house fire in Guthrie Center that was intentionally set by her stepbrother the week before her father was set to be arrested for the abuse, according to court records.
The stepbrother, Patrick Ryan Thompson, 26, of Nevada, was arrested Wednesday for a total of five felonies for murder, attempted murder and arson. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.
The brother, Noah Duane Exline, 19, was arrested in April for seven felony sex abuse charges that are each punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
The father, James Hubert Exline Jr., 46, of rural Jefferson, was arrested Wednesday for two felony sex abuse charges that are together punishable by up to 35 years in prison.
The girl, Paige Exline, and her cousin Shakiah Cockerham, 16, died May 15 in the overnight house fire. Their grandmother and uncle escaped from the fire, although the uncle was badly burned.
State and local investigators used cellphone text messages and other evidence to allege Thompson ignited the fatal fire.
“Kill all the bitches with their head games,” he allegedly wrote in a text message to his mother in April after Noah Exline’s arrest. “Yeah it’s the killing that entices me. Sounds so good sometimes.”
Thompson had gathered with James and Noah Exline at James Exline’s house about six miles south of Jefferson the night of the fire, and Thompson left about 10:30 p.m. on his motorcycle, court records show.
Investigators allege Thompson rode to Guthrie Center — where Paige Exline had moved to live with her grandmother and uncle after the sex-abuse allegations — set the fire about 12:35 a.m. and returned to his Nevada home about 3:50 a.m.
Thompson lives there with Noah Exline, who allegedly told investigators that Thompson told him “to provide an alibi for him that he had returned home much sooner than he had,” court records show.
Several witnesses and video surveillance recordings contradict Thompson’s explanations for his whereabouts during the arson.
Investigators also recovered the clothing Thompson wore the night of the arson and saddle bags from his motorcycle that he allegedly tried to hide. It’s unclear what they gleaned from that evidence.
Thompson is a felon who has been convicted of burglary, unlawful possession of weapons and child endangerment. He was accused in 2012 of abusing his 8-week-old boy, causing the child’s brain to bleed and his body to seizure.
Thompson was paroled from prison in February, state records show.
James Exline is a registered sex offender who was accused in 2008 of having sexual intercourse with two teenage girls. He pleaded guilty to two felony charges but did not go to prison.
Exline is held in the Greene County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond.
Thompson is held in the Guthrie County Jail. He was set to have an initial appearance this morning in court.