Ames man charged with murder in arson deaths

The stepbrother of a 12-year-old girl who died with her 16-year-old cousin in a Guthrie Center fire last May has been charged with two counts of murder. Patrick Ryan Thompson, 26, of Ames, also faces two counts of attempted murder and a count of arson. He is being held in the Guthrie County Jail. Cousins Shakiah Cockerham, 16, and Melanie Paige Exline, 12, died in the May 15 house fire that also left their uncle, 54-year-old William Long III, with severe burns on his upper body. Thompson's stepfather, James Hubert Exline Jr., 46, also was arrested Wednesday on two counts of sexual abuse against his daughter, Paige.


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