Opinion: Explosion investigation in Indianapolis seems odd at best.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 2 months ago

I'm sure you've all heard about the explosion the Southside area of Indianapolis that left two people dead, seven injured, five homes utterly destroyed, 26 homes significantly damaged, and 200 people driven from their homes.

That powerful explosion, which was heard three miles away and has been compared to an earthquake, was a horrendous experience for those caught in the immense blast. I'm glad, as I'm sure you are, that the loss of life has been as low as it is has.

The media is saying that one knows as yet what caused it, and as far as hard facts are concerned that is no doubt true, but I'm beginning to worry about the possibility of a glossing over the facts or some kind of coverup. I can't help feeling that way as I read comments being made by those who are involved in the investigation.

Gary Coons, chief of the Indianapolis division of the Department of Homeland Security, says, "It is still an investigation so we're very limited on the information we can give out."

Why? What is there to hide? This is not a criminal investigation. No one has been taken into custody. No one has been charged with anything. There has not been the slightest suggestion that this was anything more than a some kind of sad accident. So why can't the known facts be made public?

Captain Rita Burris, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Fire Department, told ABC News. "They're going over the scene and processing evidence. It's still in the investigation stage. You're talking days -- it could be weeks."

Again, not even an educated guess as to the source of the accident when it is obvious that the most likely cause is a gas leak. Why not?

Add to that the comment from Sarah Holsapple, a spokeswoman for Citizens Energy, the local gas company, who says that no gas leaks have been found and that "other" lines were being tested. "It's too early to speculate if this could have been caused by a leak," she has been quick to add.

Gary Coons adds, "We're looking at everything -- all causes, all possibilities. There's a lot of possibilities out there. ... There's a lot of possibilities that could trigger an explosion like this."

Whys are they being so quick to point out the obvious, that an investigation may take some time? Why is no information being released? Why are they saying that it is too soon to suspect a gas leak? Is it because they know something they don't want us to know?

Frankly, it all seems too cozy to me. The most obvious, and most probable, source of the explosion was a gas leak. Why are they so pointedly not saying that?


Tom Garrett 4 years, 2 months ago

Ask yourself this: Why is it "too soon" to talk about a gas leak? What other source of that much explosive power is there in a residential area of a large city? Can you think of one? Name it.

While the blast in Indianapolis falls short of the one that took down the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building Downtown Oklahoma City in 1995, it still required an immense amount of explosive material, and that points directly at natural gas, the only likely source. How likely is it that someone accumulated the 5,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate and diesel fuel would be required to match the Alfred P. Murrah, or even half or a quarter as much?

We shall see what we shall see, of course, but if someone goes public in a week or two with a statement that the investigation has failed to turn up the source of the explosion I strongly suggest that the people of Indianapolis call upon the federal government to step in and do a second investigation.


Pat Randall 4 years, 2 months ago

Tom, Did you see where another house blew up blocks away yesterday or last night?


Pat Randall 4 years, 2 months ago

Tom, A few blocks away from the big explosion. The one that took out all the houses and killed two people. If you think it is hard to understand what I write on here you should try talking to me face to face. (:


Pat Randall 4 years, 2 months ago

Tom, I can't find it but I know I saw it when looking for something else.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 2 months ago


I can't seem to turn up any report of a second explosion in Indianapolis, but in doing the research I think I may have turned up a clue as to why the investigators seem to have immediately turned away from a natural gas explosion.

Check these interesting facts I dredged up:

October 31, 1963: Indianapolis. A massive gas explosion rips through the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum, killing 74 people and injuring 400 others.

April 6, 1968: A gas explosion wipes out most of downtown Richmond, Indiana, killing 41 people and injuring scores more.

October, 2012: A vacant home in in Indianapolis is leveled by a ruptured gas line that causes an explosion.

Add to that, the almost immediate statement made by Dan Considine, spokesman for Citizens Energy [gas company], that company's crews shut down the gas main along Fieldfare Way after the blast on Sunday morning and found no leaks.

I'd say that someone is pushing buttons over there to try to point the investigation away from a gas leak. I'd also be willing to bet that when the smoke clears the culprit will be found to be....

A gas leak.

It's quite amazing. When I began looking around, the number of explosions due to gas leaks was a lot larger than I had ever imagined. There is even a place on the web called "Natural Gas Watch," that deals with nothing but natural gas explosions and leaks.

I suppose it's a sign of the times. The more we rely on natural gas the more incidents we are going to see. And why not? It may only be an urban legend, but in John Train's book "Truly Remarkable Occurrences," he claims that in 1895 there were only two cars in Ohio--and they had a head-on collision. So I imagine that we are going to see more and more gas explosions.

That is not, however, an excuse for any hugger-muggery in an investigation.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 2 months ago

I just thought about the original report.

Here's part of it:

The owner of a house in the blast area, who now lives elsewhere, said he believed a faulty furnace in the house caused the explosion, though Citizens Energy's Holsapple said the company had not gotten any calls about a faulty furnace.

"About a week and a half ago I got a text from my daughter that the furnace was out and they were going to spend the night at a hotel. If I were to suspect anything, that's where the problem was," said John Shirley, who is divorced and now lives in Noblesville, Ind. "Supposedly they got it fixed, but because of what happened I don't think they got it fixed. I think that's what caused the problem. It either wasn't fixed correctly or, knowing my ex-wife, she probably compromised on the fix."

Consider the clues in that statement:

  1. "...I got a text from my daughter that the furnace..."

Why? Because of a leak in the system they were not getting gas.

  1. "Supposedly they got it fixed..."

Who fixed it?

  1. "Citizens Energy's Holsapple said the company had not gotten any calls about a faulty furnace."

When does the gas company fix a problem? When there ain't nuttin comin outta da pipe, Jo-Jo. The very fact that the company PR woman says that they didn't get a call tell you that, and it hints at the fact that they are getting such calls in the area.

My advice? Give the neighborhood some bicarb; it's got a gas problem.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 2 months ago

My! My!

Wrong again. How do I manage it? :-)

In case you haven't heard, this is now being treated as a homicide investigation, which may explain why police were being so uncommunicative at first. They still don't know the cause of the explosion, but they believe there is a lot more to this than meets the eye.

Here's a comment from the police which basically says nothing:

"At this point, we are here to inform you that we are turning this into a criminal homicide investigation," Gary Coons, the city's homeland security chief, told reporters. The officials took no questions after the Monday evening announcement, but have asked the public to come forward with any information about a white van and its occupants seen in the neighborhood before the November 10 blast.

The news came the same day that the couple killed in the blast, John Dion Longworth and Jennifer Longworth, were buried. Whether their deaths are relevant is anyone's guess.

I went out and read some comments on a local station WTHR. They're a little scary--at least for the people involved.

From a "'Sandy.' All I know so far is that they are suspecting it was 4 people who did this and they are searching for a storage shed that they took the 2 harleys and the other there perosnal belongings, they know who did it they just have to prove it."

From a "'Mike.' Sandy - Be careful what info you are providing regarding this case. IFD just sent out an email instructing all personnel who may have posted pictures or comments on social media, etc. to remove them immediately. Just FYI.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 2 months ago

Here's an update for you:

Police have taken two people in for questioning. Homicide detectives and SWAT members executed a search warrant at a mobile home in the Highland Estates mobile home park on the southwest side Tuesday afternoon.

Investigators were seeking two men who might have been driving a white van that was seen in the Richmond Hill neighborhood before the blast. That white van was tracked to the mobile home that investigators searched Tuesday.

A resident in that neighborhood said a man named Robert Leonard owns the home that police searched. The same resident said he believes Robert Leonard is the brother of Mark Leonard, who lived at the south side home that exploded.

"He was just telling us how the cops have been coming over and asking about the white van that was parked in his driveway, and he said it was only there for a night," said another neighbor Whitney Essex. "I knew better, of course, because lived right next to him."

Essex said she thinks a white van was parked in Robert Leonard's driveway for as long as two weeks, but she said another man she'd never seen before was the one who drove it.



Tom Garrett 4 years ago

Take notice of the headline:

cbs INDIANAPOLIS "Three people charged in a gas explosion that devastated an Indianapolis neighborhood."

It was SO obvious!

Why didn't they tell us the truth right at the beginning? I hate it when the people running an investigation treat the public like a pack of idiots.

As long as we're on the subject, might as well hear the rest of the news on this thing.

"Three people... deliberately set up the deadly blast to collect a big insurance payout, authorities said Friday."

"The home's owner, Monserrate Shirley; her boyfriend, Mark Leonard; and his brother, Bob Leonard, were arrested Friday and charged with murder, arson and other counts in the Nov. 10 blast that killed two people."

It seems that Shirley, 47, was facing mounting financial woes, including $63,000 in credit card debt and bankruptcy proceedings. I don't suppose it helped that, as a friend points out, Shirley lost $10,000 at a casino three weeks before the explosion.

Shirley and the Leonard brothers face two counts of murder as well as 33 counts of arson — one count for each of the homes damaged so badly that officials have ordered their demolition.

And get this bigtime plot. How did they do it?

Investigators found that Shirley's home filled up with gas after a gas fireplace valve and a gas line regulator were taken out.

Did they really think no one was going to notice that?

Investigators also found that in December 2011 Shirley's home insurance policy for personal property was increased to $304,000--over and above the coverage on the home itself.

Did they really think no one was going to notice that either?

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said that the day before the explosion, the brothers asked an employee of the gas company some questions, "including the differences between propane and natural gas, the role of a regulator in a house and controlling the flow of natural gas and how much gas it would require to fill a house."

Did they really think no one was going to notice that either?

And the prosecutor adds that the day after the explosion one of the perps called someone and asked him to get some thing out of a white van that he had taken out of the house after the explosion. But no one was allowed near the house for days after the explosion.

Did they really think no one was going to notice that either?

Who ARE these people? Do we have Martians living among us?


Tom Garrett 4 years ago

No doubt!

By the way, I also happen to believe that anyone who kills someone in an attempt to make money should be sent to prison for life, and be offered the chance to be executed instead.


Tom Garrett 4 years ago

I forgot to mention one thing. I'll put it up just as it was written in the latest article.

"In another call that day, Leonard told his friend he had been surfing Craigslist "looking for a Ferrari to buy" and explained that he could afford the luxury car because Shirley had jewelry insurance and "they expect to get $300,000 and he would get $100,000" in the insurance payout, according to the affidavit."

Nice guy. Kills two people, leaves seven badly injured, obliterates five homes, significantly damages 26 more, drives 200 people from their homes and goes on CraigsList to see if he can get himself a Ferrari.

Hanging is too good for someone like that. Drawing, quartering. and then hanging would be more like it.

Anybody want to bet the whole crowd of them are back out on the street in less than ten years?


Ronald Hamric 4 years ago

"Anybody want to bet the whole crowd of them are back out on the street in less than ten years?" If thy are not I will buy you a steak dinner. Let's see, 10 years you'll be in your 90's and I'll be in my 80's. Suppose we will still be able to do justice to a well prepaired steak?


Tom Garrett 4 years ago

Sure, Ron. Just dig me up and I'll join you.

Our laws are screwed up. People who haven't stolen more than a couple of thousand bucks in their entire lives are in prison for life because of some laws; while company officers of corporations that have picked the pocket of every person in the nation and gotten caught agree to have the corporation pay back a token amount and get then right back to the trough. Truth is, when we fine the coproration instead of the people who made, or who aided and abetted, immoral and illegal decisions, the people we actually punish are the little people who own stock in the company.


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