The full effects of the devastating gas-explosion are still being felt in Richmond Hill, Indianapolis. Monserrate Shirley, along with her live-in boyfriend Mark Ray-Leonard, as well as his brother, Robert Leonard, are accused of setting off a massive explosion in November that killed two people, injured 11 and left 30 houses in the area unlivable.
Police in Indiana are still searching for a fourth accomplice in the crime. Witnesses say they saw Robert Leonard in a white van in the neighborhood with another man on the day of the explosion.
During this time Shirley and Leonard were 100 miles away at a casino. Monserrate's 12-year-old daughter was staying with a friend, and their Persian cat, Snowball, had been boarded.
Two months after investigators were puzzled by what had caused the explosion, and 20 search warrants later, police are saying that they believe the explosion at 8349 Fieldfare Way, Richmond Hill, was an insurance scam. Using the microwave as a trigger, the conspirators allegedly ignited a blast at 11:11 p.m. that killed their next-door neighbors, John D. Longworth, and his wife, Jennifer.
Shirley's ex-husband, who was not involved in the scam, believes there is some degree of innocence as he told RTV6 in Indianapolis:
I don't necessarily think she was part of the act, but she was probably aware of it, and she blew up our daughter's things. That, to me, I have a hard time understanding."
No kidding, buddy.
He also believes that a blast was planned for the previous weekend, as his daughter told him they were staying in hotel because "the furnace wasn't working."
Records reported by the New York Times show Shirley has a history of poor finances. She filed for bankruptcy in 2007, and records show she owes $63,000 in credit card debt and has two mortgages totaling $200,000. The homeowner policy on the house was worth $304,000.
The three alleged conspirators whom police have in custody all face two counts of murder, as well as arson charges. Robert Leonard's attorney has expressed concern that his client will not receive a fair trial due to media attention.