Patrick ThompsonNoah ExlineJames Exline is handcuffed Aug. 6 after a judge sentenced him to up to 75 years in prison. JARED STRONG | JEFFERSON HERALD

One sentenced, two trials to go for Exline family

By JARED STRONG

j.strong@carrollspaper.com

The brother and stepbrother of a rural Jefferson girl who investigators say was sexually abused and killed by her family are set to stand trial later this year.

A double-murder and arson trial for Patrick Ryan Thompson, 27, the 12-year-old girl’s stepbrother, is scheduled to start Sept. 17.

A sex-abuse trial for Noah Duane Exline, 20, the girl’s brother, is scheduled for Oct. 30.

The girl’s father, James Hubert Exline Jr., 47, was sentenced last week to up to 75 years in prison for abusing her.

The abuse began in 2014, when the girl was 9, according to court records. 

Noah Exline was 16 at the time and engaged in several types of sexual acts with her over the course of about two years until their parents discovered the abuse and stopped it, court records show.

Exline admitted to a Greene County deputy sheriff that he abused the girl at least seven times, but his attorney is attempting to suppress that admission and claims the deputy did not advise Exline about his rights against self-incrimination. A judge has not ruled on the matter.

James Exline and his wife Christene — the girl’s stepmother — had sought to keep the abuse secret, court records show.

“Instead of reporting the crime and helping Paige get mental health treatment and/or physical care, Mr. Exline chose to deal with the abuse by having Noah read the treatment books Mr. Exline went through during his time in sex offender treatment,” his parole officer wrote.

James Exline was convicted of two felony sex-abuse charges in 2009 for abusing two teenage girls but did not go to prison. He began abusing his daughter after he discovered his son’s abuse of her.

The abuse by father and brother came to light in April 2017, and the girl moved to live with her grandmother in Guthrie Center. Noah Exline was arrested that month.

Investigators were set to arrest James Exline when Patrick Thompson allegedly rode his motorcycle to Guthrie Center and set fire to the grandmother’s house on May 15, 2017.

The girl, Paige Exline, and her cousin Shakiah Cockerham, 16, died 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 lived 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.

Thompson is charged with five felonies for murder, attempted murder and arson. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Noah Exline faces seven felonies for sexual abuse, which together are punishable by up to 175 years in prison.

Their trials have been moved from the area due to extensive news media coverage, but it’s unclear in court records where they will be held.

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