SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

December 22, 2012

House owner, 2 others accused of plotting blast

The woman who owns the house that exploded last month in Indianapolis, leveling much of the neighborhood and leaving two people dead, was arrested yesterday along with two others, authorities said, and all three were charged with murder.

Monserrate Shirley, 47; her boyfriend, Mark Leonard, 43; and his brother, Bob Leonard Jr., 54, are accused of intentionally leaking natural gas into the house and then using the kitchen’s programmable microwave to trigger the blast.

They were arrested six weeks after the fiery blast rocked the Richmond Hill subdivision, damaging 33 houses so severely that the city ordered them razed.

Killed in the blast were Jennifer Longworth, 36, and her husband, John “Dion” Longworth, 34, who lived next door to Shirley. The explosion injured 12 other people and caused an estimated $4 million in damage.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said yesterday that investigators believe the Nov. 10 explosion at Shirley’s home, which blew from the inside out, was ignited by the microwave after gas was intentionally leaked into the home for hours.

“We are here today to discuss a thoroughly, thoroughly senseless act which has resulted in the deaths of two young adults in the prime of their life,” he said at a news conference.

Shirley and the Leonards were also charged with multiple counts of arson and one count of conspiracy to commit arson. She and Mark Leonard were charged with an additional count of conspiracy to commit arson in connection with what prosecutors say was an earlier failed attempt to blow up the same house.

About a week before the blast, Mark Leonard told a friend over the phone that “the house blew up,” according to court documents. Later that day, Leonard allegedly told the friend in another call that he was scanning Craigslist to buy a Ferrari with money from an insurance policy.

Last year, Shirley increased the coverage limit for her personal property inside the home to $304,000, according to the court documents.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • Chism attorney wants 'youthful offender' indictments dismissed

    Philip Chism's attorney will argue that the state's "youthful offender" law, which requires that the Danvers teen be tried as an adult in last fall's rape and murder of his teacher, is unconstitutional.
    In documents filed Monday, defense attorney Denise Regan contends that the statute, enacted in 1996, creates two classes of children within the court system, distinguishing them based solely on the charge.

    July 29, 2014

  • Whale watching boat snagged by lobster trap rope

    BOSTON (AP) — They weren't castaways, but like the tourists on Gilligan's Island, a group of whale watchers expecting only a three-hour tour got much more after their boat was snagged by a lobster trap rope off Massachusetts and they were forced to spend a long night at sea.

    July 29, 2014

  • Market Basket store managers vow to resign

    Store managers and assistant managers at Market Baskets in the area signed petitions Monday declaring they would work only for Arthur T. Demoulas, no matter who buys the grocery chain. "It was a voluntary petition," Salem store manager Dave Webber sa

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • Former law student gets jail term for stealing jewels SALEM -- A former law student who prowled craigslist for people selling diamond jewelry, then robbed them, all while falsely claiming to be a cancer patient, was sent to jail Thursday. Jeffrey Rosenspan, 32, of Walpole, had 10 diamond rings -- as we

    July 29, 2014

  • sculpture Ipswich approaches gift of art cautiously, with good reason

    Art, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. Which is why politicians and public officials often seek to avoid making judgments on public art. A wrong decision can create a furor.

    That might explain the caution of Ipswich selectmen as resident Rick Silverman proposes to honor his late wife and grace the town with an elegant sculpture on the North Green. Treading lightly lest they offend or preemptively reject the offer, they voted last week to set up a board that will advise them on what is and what isn’t welcome in Ipswich’s public spaces.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos