3 charged with mur­der in Indianapolis ex­plo­sion

Gas line had been tam­pered with, say in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Rick Cal­la­han

INDIANAPOLIS — A home­owner, her boyfriend and the boyfriend’s brother were charged Fri­day with mur­der and ar­son in a mas­sive ex­plo­sion that killed two peo­ple, de­stroyed five homes and dam­aged dozens more in an Indianapolis neigh­bor­hood.

Mon­ser­rate Shirley, Mark Leonard and Bob Leonard were ar­rested Fri­day and charged with felony mur­der in the Nov. 10 blast, Mar­ion County pros­e­cu­tor Terry Curry said at a news con­fer­ence.

All three also face felony ar­son and con­spir­acy charges and have been jailed with­out bond, Curry said.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors de­ter­mined that Shirley’s home — at the epi­cen­ter of the dev­as­tat­ing blast that killed her neigh­bors John Dion Long­worth, 34, and his 36-year-old wife, Jen­nifer Long­worth — filled up with gas af­ter a gas fire­place valve and a gas line reg­u­la­tor were re­moved, Curry said. A mi­crowave, prob­a­bly set to start on a timer, sparked the ex­plo­sion and flat­tened much of the Rich­mond Hills sub­di­vi­sion in the far south of the city, he said.

Curry called the ex­plo­sion a “thor­oughly sense­less act.” He said his of­fice would re­view whether to pur­sue the death penalty or life in prison with­out pa­role against the three.

Ran­dall Ca­ble, the at­tor­ney for Shirley and Mark Leonard, said he was stunned.

“I’m just as sur­prised as ev­ery­one else that they’ve made an ar­rest. My clients have con­sis­tently in­di­cated their in­no­cence,” he said.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors found that Shirley and Mark Leonard had tried but failed to blow up the home a week ear­lier, and that Leonard had told an ac­quain­tance the house and Shirley’s jew­elry were in­sured for $300,000, Curry said.

A man fit­ting Bob Leonard’s de­scrip­tion was seen at the home on the day of the ex­plo­sion, and in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve this is when the gas line and valve were tam­pered with.

Ca­ble has said the cou­ple were at a south­ern In­di­ana casino when the ex­plo­sion hap­pened. Shirley’s daugh­ter was stay­ing with a friend, and the fam­ily’s cat was be­ing boarded.

The day be­fore the blast, Curry said, the brothers al­legedly spoke with an em­ployee of lo­cal gas util­ity Ci­ti­zens En­ergy.

They “asked that per­son var­i­ous ques­tions re­gard­ing gas, in­clud­ing the dif­fer­ences be­tween propane and nat­u­ral gas, the role of a reg­u­la­tor in a house and con­trol­ling the flow of nat­u­ral gas and how much gas it would re­quire to fill a house,” he said.

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