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Indianapolis house explosion becomes homicide investigation

November 19, 2012|By Matt Pearce

Indianapolis officials have opened a homicide investigation into the massive house explosion Nov. 10 that killed a married couple and ruined more than 30 homes.

The announcement at a Monday night news conference came hours after the burial of Dion and Jennifer Longworth, who had lived in a neighboring house. 

Officials offered few details, but said they had executed warrants and spoken with witnesses.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said a "parallel investigation" into the explosion's cause now had them searching for a white van spotted in the area around the time of the blast.

The explosion had been felt for miles and forced residents to evacuate the 126-house subdivision. The blast damaged most of those homes, blowing doors open and some roofs away, and rendered more than 30 houses uninhabitable. Authorities blocked off the scene and found the Longworths' bodies shortly after.

The house where the explosion occurred belonged to Monserrate Shirley, 47, who told local media she was out of town with her boyfriend at the time of the blast.

Her attorney complained to the Indianapolis Star that Shirley had felt "hounded" and would not comment on officials' remarks Monday.

Marion County Prosecutor Curry declined to take questions, and his office did not answer an after-hours call seeking further comment; the Indianapolis Department of Homeland Security also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting with the investigation, along with a number of other local and state agencies.

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