INDIANAPOLIS – Newly released search warrants in the Richmond Hill explosion case reveal detectives sought phone records and arrest warrants against two of their three eventual suspects within weeks of the blast.
The warrants were released by Judge Shelia Carlisle during a pretrial hearing of defendants Mark Leonard, Monserrate Shirley and Robert Leonard.
All three face life without parole if convicted in the Nov. 10 explosion that destroyed Shirley’s house, damaged dozens more and killed neighbors Dion and Jennifer Longworth.
On Nov. 30, investigators were granted search warrants for two Greenwood locations where Shirley and boyfriend Mark Leonard were living after the blast.
Detectives wanted tote bags, a briefcase, cardboard boxes of “family photos, jewelry, clothes, papers and miscellaneous personal items that could not be replaced.”
If recovered, such items would be indicative of arson as a motivation in the explosion at 8349 Fieldfare Way.
On Dec. 6, investigators sought a limited arrest warrant for Mark Leonard for the purpose of “obtaining a photograph, major case prints and buccal cell samples.”
A similar warrant had been sought the week before for his half-brother Robert Leonard.
Such warrants serve the purpose of seizing physical evidence from a suspect without formally charging that person with a crime.
In late November and early December, investigators sought records for several cell phones belonging to the suspects and their associates, including David Gill, a man questioned about his knowledge of the blast before Thanksgiving.
A neighbor identified Gill as a frequent visitor to the Shirley home and possibly one of the men spotted driving Leonard’s white cargo van the day of the explosion.
Gill was later arrested for his role in an alleged motorcycle insurance fraud with Mark Leonard.
Search warrants were also granted for computers and records pertaining to the induction of natural gas into the home.
Investigators believe that a valve on a gas-fed fireplace was disabled, filling the home with natural gas before it was detonated in a time-delayed explosion.
Detectives also received a search warrant for a maroon/burgundy 2000 Ford Taurus so that it might be searched for personal belongings of Shirley and Mark Leonard.
Judge Carlisle said she would defer to Judge Robert Altice, the original judge in the case, as to whether wiretapped and recorded conversations of the defendants would be revealed.
Those search warrants remain sealed.
A source tells Fox 59 News that the recordings are “very damaging” to the suspects, however, they portray the defendants bolstering each other’s morale and reminding one another to stick together and make sure their stories match when questioned by detectives.