An aerial view on Sunday of two homes leveled after an explosion on the Southeastside of Indianapolis. The November 10 damaged homes and led to the evacuation of residents.
Matt Kryger/The Indianapolis Star from WTHR Chopper 13
(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Three arrests have been made in connection with a deadly home explosion on Indianapolis’ south side last month.
Two neighbors died when a home in the Richmond Hill subdivision exploded the night of November 10. At a Friday press conference, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced that homeowner Monserrate Shirley, her boyfriend Mark Leonard, and his brother Bob Leonard have been arrested. Each of the suspects face a list of charges including Murder and Arson.
Shirley and Mark Leonard were together at Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg when they were informed of the blast. Monserrate’s 12-year-old daughter was at a friend’s house and their cat had been boarded.
During the press conference, investigators said a manifold directing natural gas to the Monserrate’s appliances had been disconnected. Gas built up for the next six to nine hours. The point of ignition was a microwave, programmed to go off 24 hours after being set.
The blast either damaged or destroyed 80 homes, causing $4 million in damage. Next door neighbors Jennifer and John Longworth died as their home was blown apart.
Investigators provided other evidence pointing to the blast as intentional and not an accident. Insurance on the home had recently been increased. Mark Leonard allegedly changed the home’s thermostat from a digital type to a slide switch so that it would ignite a spark.
The Leonard brothers had also done research asking a store clerk about different types of gas.
It may not have been the group’s first attempt at leveling the home. Prosecutors said Shirley and Leonard did exact same thing the weekend before: going to Lawrenceburg, boarding the cat, and sending her daughter elsewhere. But, the attempt to cause an explosion failed.
Photos and financial documents had also been removed from the home.
Curry said each of the suspects has so far denied any involvement in planning the explosion.
In news interviews following the explosion that made national headlines, Monserrate had claimed she was a victim like the more than 80 other families whose homes were damaged or completely lost.
Each of the suspects could face the death penalty, if convicted on the Murder and Arson charges.