INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The Marion County prosecutor announced Friday that charges have been filed in connection with the fatal Richmond Hill explosion.
Monserrate Shirley, owner of the home where the explosion occurred, her boyfriend, Mark Leonard, and his brother, Bob Leonard, were arrested Friday. Jail records show all three of them have each been charged with two counts of murder, along with dozens of charges of arson.
The murder charges stem from the deaths of Dion and Jennifer Longworth .
Two people were killed and dozens of homes were irreparably damaged in the Nov. 10 blast caused by ignition of natural gas. Eight days later, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said the investigation had become a homicide investigation.
According to court documents, 12 Richmond Hill residents were injured in the blast, and damages to property in the area are estimated at $4 million.
Prosecutor details allegations against three
During Friday's news conference, Curry called the explosion a "thoroughly senseless act" and said that his office was committed to seeing that justice is done. He went on to detail highlights of the accusations against the three.
- ONLINE EXTRA | Watch the full news conference
He said investigators believe the microwave oven, which had the capability to be set to start up to 24 hours in advance, was the point of ignition and had exploded from the inside. He also noted no gas leaks in the lines were found, but the regulators that would have controlled the flow of gas had been removed, and the valve to the gas fireplace in the home was missing. Under those conditions, he said, it would take six to nine hours for the house to be filled with gas.
- ONLINE EXTRA | Read the probable cause affidavit
Curry said an acquaintance of Mark Leonard told investigators he had tried to blow up the house the weekend before but had failed. He noted that the Friday before the explosion, both Mark and Bob Leonard had spoken with a Citizen's Energy employee and asked about the differences between propane and natural gas and how much it would take to fill a house.
That failed attempt led to extra charges of conspiracy to commit arson for Shirley and Mark Leonard, Curry said.
Curry also said the insurance on personal property in the house had been increased to $450,000 shortly before the explosion.
The residents were out of town the night of the explosion on a trip to a casino. Among the details in the probable cause affidavit: Mark Leonard had reportedly lost about $10,000 at the casino about three weeks before the explosion.
- ONLINE EXTRA | Marion County Prosecutor speaks about arrests
Curry 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 by their arrest.
"I'm just as surprised as everyone else that they've made an arrest. My clients have consistently indicated their innocence," he said.
Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said the investigation is continuing, and they are seeking a possible fourth suspect, a second person who was in a white van seen in the area .
Anyone with information should call IMPD, he said.
- ONLINE EXTRA | Hear more from Troy Riggs
Homeowner claimed to be victim
In the days after the explosion, after finger-pointing at the residents of the home where the explosion occurred, who were out of town at that time, Shirley said they were victims, just like everybody else .
Costs pile up
The Indianapolis Department of Public Safety has said the cost of the response to the explosion and continuing investigation has already topped $300,000 .
Thirty-one homes are on the list for demolition.
DPS had a meeting scheduled with Richmond Hill residents Friday afternoon to address ongoing concerns.
A man was injured after being trapped inside of a hole at a construction site for around 20 minutes on Monday afternoon. Police said he was up to his knees in dirt before crews were able to dig him out.
A Fort Wayne man was arrested after he apparently threw an alcoholic drink on his pregnant girlfriend and then hit her in the ear while her two small children were asleep in the home.
Police have charged six people and are still looking for one woman they believe is living in the Fort Wayne area. She faces meth dealing charges.
A Fort Wayne man is facing eight charges after he spit on a police officer who arrested him. He also spit on nurses and other officers while being treated at a local hospital.
Fort Wayne area firefighters, police officers, and EMT's are competing in the annual Battle of the Badges blood drive this holiday season.
Indiana residents receiving food stamps will begin receiving their monthly benefits on new dates under a state law approved earlier this year.
Police have identified a person of interest in Sunday’s stabbing outside of a home on Bluebird Court, off of St. Joe Road.
Police in Indianapolis say a seventh-grade boy has died after apparently collapsing and being found face down in the snow.
Police are looking for a white man who is 6'0" to 6'2" with a thin build they say robbed a CVS in November. He may have been driving a gray or dark green Ford SUV.
Police from several agencies have responded to multiple crashes overnight due to slick roads from a wintry mix that moved through the area late Sunday and early Monday morning.
A rural Angola man faces six felony charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a 26-year-old woman.
A local family wants help in making sure their loved one's murderer stays in prison.
Police said a man barricaded himself inside of a home on Genessee Avenue early Sunday morning for more than two hours after threatening to commit suicide.
Detectives believe a three-year-old boy may have shot himself at a home in Indianapolis Saturday night. Police said the shooting appears to have been accidental.
There will be several holiday-themed events this weekend in the Fort Wayne area, including Christmas displays, children’s parties, visits from Santa Claus, and more.