November 21, 2012 10:06:06 AM
INDIANAPOLIS -- Investigators said Tuesday that no arrests have been made in connection with an Indianapolis house explosion that killed two people and destroyed at least five homes, but that authorities were still serving search warrants and questioning people.
Prosecutor Terry Curry told The Indianapolis Star on Tuesday that search warrants had been executed and people were questioned, but he declined to discuss who was questioned or where the warrants had been served.
Curry spokeswoman Brienne Delaney told The Associated Press on Tuesday evening that no arrests had been made.
"It's still a fluid situation," she said. It isn't clear how many people have been questioned.
The investigation into the Nov. 10 explosion is believed to be focusing on a house occupied by Monserrate Shirley and her boyfriend, Mark Leonard. The couple and Shirley's 12-year-old daughter were away at the time of the explosion, but the young couple next door died when their house was destroyed.
Indianapolis Homeland Security Director Gary Coons said in a statement released Tuesday night that investigators were still at work at the blast-damaged neighborhood on Indianapolis' south side.
"The investigation is still ongoing and we are still processing the scene. No arrests have been made at this time," his statement said.
Attorney Randall Cable said earlier Tuesday that Shirley and Leonard had been cooperating with investigators and were "bewildered" by Curry's announcement Monday that the investigation was considered a criminal homicide.
City arson investigators and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concluded the blast was not an accident, Curry told the AP earlier Tuesday. The case is classified as a criminal homicide investigation because of the deaths of Jennifer and John Longworth.
Curry declined to discuss details of the investigation or the search warrants, which he said would remain sealed until -- or if -- any criminal charges are filed.
Officials have said they believe natural gas was involved in the explosion and that they are focusing on appliances as the cause. The explosion caused an estimated $4.4 million in damage.
Curry said investigators had considered homicide a possibility all along, but it wasn't until police and the ATF ruled out an accidental cause that it became a criminal probe.
He declined to say whether investigators had any suspects or if there was any physical evidence or possible motive that the blast had been deliberately set.
"In terms of any intent, I can't speak to that," Curry said.
Cable said in a statement that Shirley and Leonard have "cooperated fully" with investigators and that they want the cause "of this horrific and saddening tragedy to be determined."
Fire Capt. Rita Burris said Tuesday that about 15 heavily damaged homes are "on hold," meaning that residents have limited access because of the investigation.
Once the on-scene work is complete, she said inspectors will have to determine if those homes are safe enough to enter or if they must be demolished.
"That's a two-fold, two-layer thing that these homeowners are going to have to deal with," Burris said.