Investigators limit information on south side explosion

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Investigators are keeping details to themselves after announcing Monday that the November 10 explosion on the south side was no accident.

Monday evening, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said investigators were hoping to talk to anyone who spotted a white van in the Richmond Hill subdivision on the evening of the blast. But no suspects have been named, and so far, detectives are not releasing information about what led them to the conclusion that the explosion was the result of a criminal act.

Monday's announcement that it is now a criminal matter has not diminished the size or intensity of the investigation. Local and federal arson investigators spent the morning picking their way through the home that exploded as well as nearby homes.

Curry calls it a painstaking search for evidence. One thing that is not visible at the explosion site is the work of detectives who are pursuing the murder investigation. They have served search warrants and conducted numerous interviews.

However, Curry is saying very little about the warrants, what was searched; what, if anything, investigators found, or even the people being interviewed. He is also not saying anything about the precise cause of the explosion.

On Tuesday, Curry explained the strategy of keeping certain information from the public.

"The concern is that if you put out sufficient detail, then you can't judge the credibility of the people who supply the information. We don't want to taint any legitimate information that comes into our office and in to investigators," he said.

"I can't allow a case to be jeopardized by releasing information," said Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.

Officials say only that the investigation of the explosion scene will continue for awhile. Riggs sounds confident investigators will find what they're looking for.

"We have our best and brightest here in the city of Indianapolis working on it, we're working with the best and the brightest on the Federal level and if we can determine a cause and we can get the prosecution, these individuals will get us there," Riggs said. "This is not an act of God. This is something that did not happen on its own. That is troubling to all of us."

As for the white van, the prosecutor is not providing the make or model of the vehicle that was spotted parked in front of the home the day before it exploded. Neighbors say one of the home's residents, Mark Leonard, has a white van.

"I saw his van parked in front of the house, parked in the driveway. That's the van that we've all seen in the neighborhood. So the mysterious part of it, we don't know," said Doug Aldridge, who coordinates the neighborhood watch in Richmond Hill.

Leonard's attorney says he and his girlfriend Monserrate Shirley, who owns the home, aren't answering questions.

Meanwhile, investigators who eliminated accidental causes continued to dig through the debris like archaeologists, looking for additional clues to what triggered the horrific explosion and fire.

Experienced private fire investigators tell Eyewitness News the damage appears to be extensive and too far reaching to be the result of a natural gas leak alone.

"They are in shock. Some people do have relief," said Aldridge.

But Aldridge also says some residents are angry.

"They are mad, because this was now gearing toward criminal intent. You know, we are living in a peaceful community and, all of a sudden, someone decides to blow up a house. I mean, you'd be mad, too," he said.

Crime Stoppers is offering $1,000 and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is offering up to $10,000 leading to an arrest and conviction. Anonymous tips can be called in to Central Indiana Crime Stoppers at 262-TIPS.