Police arrest Monserrate Shirley, Mark Leonard and Robert Leonard for Indianapolis home explosion case
Authorities held a news conference to announce the arrest of three key figures connection to the Indianapolis home explosion which damaged dozens of homes and killed two people.
Monserrate Shirley and her boyfriend, Mark Leonard, who lived in the home, along with Leonard’s brother, Robert Leonard, were arrested Friday on 48 charges, including murder and arson.
John and Jennifer Longworth died in the blast.
All three were charged with two counts of murder, one count of conspiracy to commit arson, 33 counts of arson, a Class B felony and 12 counts of arson, a Class A felony. The three suspects will make their initial court appearance December 24.
A committee will review the case after at least 30 days.
“We will review their criminal histories of the individuals involved. We will consider if there are any mental health issues. We will consider the range of appropriate considerations before we make a decision,” Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said during the Friday morning news conference.
The source of the blast was identified as the microwave oven.
“The microwave oven … had exploded from inside out,” Curry said. “The microwave oven was the point of ignition.”
Investigators revealed that the natural gas step-down valve into the home had been removed and a gas valve in the fireplace was missing. Without the valve, investigators estimated it took 6-9 hours to fill the home with gas and make the house combustible and explode.
“The flow of gas at that volume would have occurred beginning mid- to late afternoon to reach the volume of the explosion that happened at 11 p.m.,” Curry said.
Curry detailed discrepancies in statements from the Leonards and Shirley as well as a statement from a gas worker who was approached by the Leonards about propane and natural gases.
On the day of the explosion, “a resident of Richmond Hill saw a white van … pull into the driveway of the residence between 2 and 3 p.m.,” Curry said.
The men were in the home briefly and hurriedly left, investigators determined, and Bob Leonard’s son said several items were in the van that had been taken from the home, including photos and financial documents.
Prosecutors said there could be more arrests.
The death penalty will be under consideration in the case.