INDIANAPOLIS — Three suspects charged with setting up a gas explosion that devastated an Indianapolis neighborhood and killed two people were ordered Monday to be held without bond.
A Marion County judge entered not guilty pleas for Monserrate Shirley, her boyfriend Mark Leonard, and his brother, Bob Leonard at their initial hearing. They are charged with murder, arson and other counts in the Nov. 10 blast.
Prosecutors allege the three, who appeared in court in orange jail jumpsuits and handcuffs, rigged the massive gas blast at Shirley's house so they could collect a big insurance payout.
Shirley, 47, was facing mounting financial woes, including $63,000 in credit card debt and bankruptcy proceedings, court
documents say. And a friend of Mark Leonard's told investigators that Leonard said he had lost about $10,000 at a casino some three weeks before the explosion. A probable cause affidavit says Shirley filed for bankruptcy this year but stopped making her court-arranged payments.
The home's original loan was for $116,000 and a second mortgage was taken out on the home for $65,000, the affidavit says.
The judge appointed public defenders for the Leonards.
Randall Cable, Shirley's attorney, didn't address the charges at the hearing Monday and didn't speak with reporters afterward.
The fiery blast destroyed five homes, including Shirley's, and damaged dozens of others in the Richmond Hill subdivision in the far south side of the city. The explosion killed Shirley's next-door neighbors, John Dion Longworth, a 34-year-old electronics expert, and his 36-year-old wife, second-grade teacher Jennifer Longworth.