Insurance Fraud Probable Motive
THE THREE RESIDENTS OF THE HOUSE that blew up and destroyed an entire neighborhood in Indianapolis November 10, were arrested today (Friday) and charged with murder and felony arson. The massive explosion immediately leveled four houses and killed a young couple who lived in the house next door. A total of 33 houses were damaged beyond repair and are being demolished with total damages of $4.4 million. See Firegeezer report from Nov. 11 HERE.
The Chicago Tribune and the AP reported:
Monserrate Shirley and Mark Leonard, who lived in the home that exploded, and Leonard's brother, Bob Leonard Jr., were charged on Thursday in connection with the explosion and arrested on Friday, authorities said.
The personal property insurance on the home had been raised recently to $304,000 and photographs and personal financial records removed before the explosion, prosecutors allege.
The three face murder charges in the deaths of neighbors Jennifer and John Longworth and multiple other charges for the injuries to 12 other area residents in the blast and for the 33 neighborhood homes that had to be demolished, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry told a news conference.
Investigators believe a programmable microwave that exploded from the inside out was the source of ignition and valves that regulate natural gas into the home and to a fireplace were removed, allowing gas to build up over hours, Curry said. Authorities told Fox 59 in Indianapolis that the home was filled with natural gas for six to eight hours prior to the explosion.
Attorney Randall Cables has said Shirley and Leonard were away 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.
Curry also said 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.
Authorities are still working to determine whether others were involved.
The three suspects are expected to appear in court Monday morning.
The prosecutor also said that he is considering asking for the death penalty with the charges.
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