Homeowner, two others to face more than 100 charges in south side blast

More than 100 charges were filed in connection with the south side home explosion, announced Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry at a news conference.

Homeowner Moncy Shirley and her boyfriend, Mark Leonard, and his brother, Bobby Leonard, Jr., were arrested by federal agents on the south side Friday morning.

All three suspects were charged with two counts of felony murder, one count of conspiracy to commit arson, 12 counts of arson, Class A felony, and 33 counts of arson, a Class B felony.  Additionally, both Mark Leonard and Shirley were each charged with an additional count of conspiracy to commit arson.

Shirley’s neighbors, school teacher Jennifer Longworth and her husband, Dion, were both killed when Shirley’s home at 8349 Fairfield Way filled with natural gas and exploded on the evening of Nov. 10.  The blast also injured 12 individuals, damaged 80 homes and left dozens of families displaced. The Department of Code Enforcement estimated approximately $4 million in residential damage.

“We have to acknowledge that we are helpless to alleviate the pain and anguish of such innocent victims and their families,” Prosecutor Curry continued.  “However, what we as a public safety community can do and must do is devote our best efforts to see that justice is served on behalf of those victims.  As with any matter filed by our office, we are absolutely committed to see that justice is done on behalf of all who have been victimized by the Richmond Hill explosion.”

Authorities determined the home was filled with natural gas for six to eight hours prior to the explosion at 11 p.m.  Investigators believe a microwave, which can be set on a timer, was the source of ignition, stating it “exploded from the inside out.”

Prosecutor Curry also revealed that Shirley and Leonard attempted to cause damage to their home the weekend prior to the explosion, but their attempt failed.  Curry stated their actions the weekend before mirrored the actions taken the weekend of Nov. 10, including going to a casino for the night, boarding their pet cat and leaving their daughter at a babysitter’s house.

Investigators have interviewed several people in connection with the blast, including Bobby Leonard, Jr.’s son.  Curry said the individual, who has not been charged in the case at this time, was sent to recover items from a white van, the same van police sought information about in days following the explosion.  Curry said the items included Shirley’s photos and other possessions.  The items were hidden in the basement of the home Leonard, Jr.’s son was residing in.

Authorities are still working to determine whether others were involved.

The three suspects are expected to appear in court Monday morning.



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