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NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- An 18-year-old New Albany man already charged with attempted murder for allegedly crashing his car into a Clarksville police cruiser has been charged in connection with a deadly house fire in New Albany that killed three children.
Investigators initially blamed the fire on items that were left too close to a space heater; but the source of the fire is now being attributed to Cody Cashion, and a flare gun prosecutors allege he fired at the home that triggered the deadly blaze.
"We believe the flare was fired from a car," said Floyd County prosecutor Keith Henderson.
It wasn't until Cashion's arrest last week following a chase and crash involving a Clarksville officer that investigators in Floyd County began to re-examine the fatal fire.
While Henderson would not divulge what exactly led investigators to Cashion, he did admit it was only after Cashion's arrest that authorities revisited the investigation into the fatal fire on Ealy Street.
Henderson alleges that Cashion's motive was retaliatory and stemmed from a "property dispute" with a person who lived at the home. A person, Henderson says, who was not at home when the fire started. He declined to elaborate.
"This was going to be a retaliatory act for a property dispute or theft," said Henderson.
Cashion, 18, is now charged with three counts of murder and one count of arson.
The fire started around 2 a.m. on Jan. 4 at a home in the 300 block of Ealy Street. Three children died in the fire: 6-year-old Tai'zah, 4-year-old Tyrese and 2-year-old Trinity.
Five-year-old Taty'ana is the only child that survived the fire. She continues to improve at a hospital in Indianapolis, after suffering burns over 20 percent of her body.
Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson, speaking to a crowded room of the children's relatives and reporters, announced the charges and warrant for Cashion.
"This is a very serious matter, a very tragic case," Henderson said.
Marie Clark, the grandmother of the children, was tearful and wept as she spoke to reporters Tuesday outside the courthouse.
"And that's all I want is justice for Tai'zah, Tyrese and Trinity and for Taty'ana's suffering," Clark said. "To hear that it was arson in itself was enough. It was like I didn't need to hear anything else. It just stabs you right in your heart to know -- these were babies, these were babies."
Henderson says he will not rule out the possibility of more arrests in this tragic case.
A cousin of the children says knowing someone is responsible makes him angry but also brings him comfort.
"We have to as a family let the court system take care of it, and as a family we need to sit back and let the court system play out instead of letting our emotions get the best of us," said Deontaye Alford.
Clark County officials tell WDRB it is likely that Cashion will not be transported to Floyd County to face the new charges until he is sentenced in Clark County. But Henderson told reporters that the cases could continue simultaneously and that he presumed Cashion would appear in a Floyd County courtroom within 48 hours of the warrant being served.
On Monday, Cashion pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, resisting law enforcement, reckless driving and motor vehicle theft after police say he intentionally crashed a SUV into a Clarksville police cruiser, injuring Officer Jason Tackett.