NEW ALBANY, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana house fire where three young siblings died and a fourth was badly burned began when a teenager fired a flare into the home in a property dispute with one of the residents, authorities said Tuesday.
Cody Cashion, 18, faces three counts of murder and one count of arson resulting in injury, Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson announced Tuesday at a news conference. The charges are in connection to the fire that occurred Jan. 4 in New Albany, located in southern Indiana across the Ohio River from Louisville, Ky.
Cashion, of New Albany, already was in custody in nearby Clark County on charges including attempted murder of a police officer stemming from a Jan. 8 car crash. He remained at the Clark County Jail in Jeffersonville on Tuesday, and records there did not indicate whether he has an attorney.
Investigators initially believed the fire started in a front bedroom and might have been caused by a space heater, but Henderson said witnesses provided information linking the fire to a flare shot from a motor vehicle. Two-year-old Trinity Hughes, 4-year-old Tyrese Hughes and 6-year-old Tai'zah Hughes died of smoke inhalation, while 5-year-old Taty'ana Hughes was rescued by firefighters and remained in an Indianapolis hospital Tuesday.
The children and their mother, Theresa Hughes, 29, were at the home visiting a friend. WHAS-TV reported that investigators believe Cashion did not know children were inside the home at the time.
Henderson said during the news conference that Cashion fired the flare into the home as "retaliation" for a property dispute, and that his intended target was not there at the time.
The fire gutted the front room where the children died, and the rest of the house sustained extensive heat and smoke damage.
The case remains under investigation and others may be arrested, Henderson said.
Cashion pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of attempted murder, resisting law enforcement, reckless driving and motor vehicle theft after police say he intentionally crashed an SUV into a Clarksville police cruiser.