Terry Curry on Richmond Hill: 'We can never begin to comprehend the grief and anger'

Prosector Terry Curry speaks on Richmond Hill trials
Richmond Hill 6pm
Terry Curry to discuss Monserrate Shirley case
Monserrate Shirley sentencing
Prosecutor thanks Richmond Hill victims

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Four years after the Richmond Hill explosion, the day after Monserrate Shirley was sentenced to 50 years in prison for her part of the horrific crime, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry revealed new details about the criminal investigation and prosecutions.

"Did I think it would take four years? No." he said.

In 2012, as fire investigators were just starting to look into the destroyed home, police had their eyes on Shirley and her live-in boyfriend.

"Mark Leonard and Monserrate Shirley were obvious suspects from day one," Curry explained, "and at some point they were under surveillance "

Police were tailing the couple when they suddenly headed toward Chicago. Officers were told to arrest them before they crossed the state line. The pair turned around in Lake County "and drove back to Indianapolis. To this day, obviously, no one knows what the point of all that was," Curry said.

At first detectives believed Shirley and Leonard destroyed the home themselves. They learned of Bob Leonard's help but couldn't identify the other men involved until more than a year later when Shirley confessed.

"Getting Monserrate Shirley's cooperation and the plea allowed us to identify that person conclusively and was probably the biggest surprise from the point that charges were first filed," Curry said.

The trials of Mark and Bob Leonard lasted more than a month and cost the prosecutor's office nearly $115,000. Each case relied on more than 150 witnesses, many of them victims of the fiery explosion.

"The Richmond Hill residents have been phenomenal through this process," he said. "We absolutely appreciate their patience in resolving this matter."

"We can never begin to comprehend the grief and anger," he continued.

Curry said the entire Richmond Hill case is different than other cases his office covers in that the suspects didn't intend the crime to have such a magnitude.

"Individuals have made choices that resulted in horrible consequences," he said.

The explosion, set to destroy the home and cash in on its $300,000 insurance policy, destroyed or damaged 100 homes. Neighbors Dion and Jennifer Longworth were killed.

The Leonard brothers are imprisoned for life. Shirley received a 50 year sentence. Even if she gets parole for good behavior, the 51-year-old will be in her 70's before she is free.

Co-conspirator Gary Thompson got 20 years in prison. Accomplice Glenn Hultz will be sentenced next week.

Although Curry says he's gratified with the results of four years of work, "I readily acknowledge we can never begin to comprehend the grief and anger that individuals must feel from experiencing the loss of a loved one in a violent crime like this."

Curry is also concerned for Shirley's daughter, another victim among the many victims still recovering from one of the worst crimes in the city's history.