Entries in Indianapolis (13)


Three Killed in Indianapolis When Tour Bus Flips

ABC News(INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.) -- Investigators in Indianapolis, Ind. are working to determine what caused a bus filled with teenagers to slam into a median Saturday and flip, killing a youth pastor, his pregnant wife, and a female chaperone.

The church group was returning from a summer camp in Michigan and was just a mile away from its destination. The bus driver said he was making a left turn off an I-465 exit ramp when he hit a concrete median and flipped the bus.

The bus driver, who was severely injured in the crash, reportedly told authorities the brakes failed. Witnesses say they saw the bus traveling at a high rate of speed.

“I saw this bus going so fast and I thought god that guy was going fast and that's an old bus” said Carol Albright, who witnessed the accident. “I drive a school bus and so just seeing that… this is every bus driver's worst fear.”

There were 37 people on board when the bus crashed. Officials say 26 people were sent to the hospital in addition to the three people killed.

Several Good Samaritans immediately jumped out of their cars to help the injured passengers.

“I think the driver was the first one I came up on and he was bleeding pretty bad,” said Sasha Sample, a nurse who was one of the first on the scene. “So I stole somebody's belt from the best I can remember and got a tourniquet on his arm and then just started to help out everybody else, try to get everybody that could walk away from the bus.”

Jeff Leffew, a deacon at the church where the bus was heading, says two of his daughters were on board when it crashed. They are still coming to terms with the accident, he said.

“It comes in waves where they're okay and then it hits them again and you look over and you'll see them grieving,” Leffew said.


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Three Charged with Murder and Arson in Indianapolis Home Explosion

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Prosecutors in Marion County, Indiana Friday announced murder and arson charges against three people in connection with a deadly home explosion Nov. 10 that set off a chain reaction of fires, leaving a neighborhood in ruins — and a young couple dead.

Monserrate Shirley, 47, who owned the home that exploded, was charged along with her live-in boyfriend, Mark Leonard, 43, and his brother, Robert Leonard, 54.

The defendants will have their initial hearings on Monday morning in Marion County Superior Criminal Court.

Authorities allege that the November blast in the Richmond Hill neighborhood of Indianapolis was an intentional act, a conspiracy concocted by the three to collect on a recently-increased $300,000 insurance policy that covered the personal property in the home.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry called it a “thoroughly, thoroughly, senseless act.”

In affidavits unsealed Friday, investigators allege that the trio released natural gas into the home for six to nine hours. The source of ignition for the blast was a microwave oven — allegedly set on a timer to ignite the gas.  Additionally, a regulator restricting gas flow into the home appeared to have been removed, and a valve that controls the flow of gas to a fireplace is missing, authorities said.

Shirley and Mark Leonard were away from the home on the night of the blast, staying overnight at a nearby casino.  Shirley’s 12-year-old daughter had been sent to stay with a babysitter, and the family cat spent the weekend with boarders.

Investigators allege that there was a nearly identical, but failed, attempt to blow up the house a week earlier.   The cat was boarded, the daughter sent to the same babysitter and Leonard and Shirley took off for the same casino.

Mark Leonard, prosecutors allege, had called a friend that weekend to say, “The house blew up.”   Leonard then told the friend that he was surfing the Internet “looking for a Ferrari to buy,” according to an affidavit unsealed Friday.  Leonard allegedly told the friend that Shirley “has jewelry insured and they expect to get $300,000 and he would get $100,000 of it.”  It was only later, prosecutors say, that Leonard discovered that the house had failed to explode that time.

Curry said Friday that as soon as investigators began poring over the remnants of Shirley’s home, they noticed that the microwave oven had been blasted out from the inside.   A small canister found in the kitchen may have been inside the microwave, but authorities say is still being tested for evidence of flammable contents.

When the home exploded on Nov. 10, the noise of the explosion could be heard and felt for miles around — and it sent a blast wave into the home next door, killing John and Jennifer Longworth.    A coroner’s report found that John Longworth, 34, died from burns covering more than 95 percent of his body.      Jennifer Longworth, a 36-year old schoolteacher, died from blast injuries to the head and burns that covered 80 percent of her body. She was found dead in her bed, which had collapsed through the floor to the basement.

Curry said authorities are still seeking at least one other person who, they believe, may have had a role in the crime.  That person was allegedly seen entering the home on the day of the explosion, along with a man matching the description of Robert Leonard.

In addition to two counts of felony murder, all three defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit arson, and 45 counts of arson for causing injuries to others and damage to neighboring homes.  The total damage has been estimated to be in the range of $4 million.

The case qualifies for the death penalty, but Curry said no decision has yet been made on whether to seek it.

Randall Cable, an attorney for defendant Monserrate Shirley, did not immediately respond to emails and phone messages.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two Questioned in Connection with Indiana Neighborhood Blast

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Indiana authorities have made an apparent break in their investigation into who triggered the massive explosion that killed two people and leveled some of an Indianapolis neighborhood earlier this month.

"Our investigators are talking to individuals we have identified as potentially having relevant information," prosecutor Terry Curry said.

Earlier this week, ABC News learned that authorities now believe the Nov. 10 blast in the subdivision just south of Indianapolis that killed John and Jennifer Longworth was caused intentionally.

Police won't say who they are questioning, but cellphone video captured by Brad Horton and his girlfriend Whitney Essex shows a SWAT team descending on a mobile home park in southwest Indianapolis.

"These people came in tanks with people on top of them," Essex told ABC News.

The couple says their neighbor, Bob Leonard, was led away for questioning.  Leonard is the brother of Mark Leonard, who is dating Montserrate Shirley, who along with Mark Leonard, lives in the home that exploded.

"It was pretty serious.  They don't pull those [tanks] out for just anything," Horton said.

Much of the attention since the explosion has centered on Shirley and Mark Leonard, who lived at the house in the center of the blast area.  The two ignored questions from reporters on Tuesday.

The couple says they were at a casino, and the home was empty when the explosion rocked the quiet neighborhood, killing the Longworths and damaging nearly 100 homes.

An attorney for Shirley and Mark Leonard said they are cooperating with police.

Overnight, prosecutors refused to confirm if they believe Bob Leonard is involved, or if they believe the blast was triggered by a remote.

"As we develop additional information, and identify individuals who potentially have pertinent information, we'll just pursue all those leads and that's exactly what we're doing," Curry said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Indianapolis House Explosion Case Now a Criminal Homicide Investigation

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- The probe into a massive explosion earlier this month in Indianapolis that killed two people and damaged dozens of homes is now an active criminal homicide investigation, with authorities saying they believe the blast was caused intentionally, ABC News has learned.

At a meeting Monday evening at the Southport Presbyterian Church to update residents of the Richmond Hill subdivision where the blast occurred, Marion County prosecutor Terry Curry said the criminal homicide investigation is ongoing.

The ATF offered up to $10,000 for information that leads to an arrest in the case.

The explosion in the subdivision just south of the city on Saturday, Nov. 10, killed John and Jennifer Longworth. Their funeral was held earlier Monday.

Much of the attention since the explosion has centered on Monserrate Shirley and her boyfriend Mark Leonard, who lived at the house in the center of the blast area.

John Shirley, who owns that house but now lives elsewhere, told ABC News two days after the blast that he believed that his ex-wife, who still lives in the house, was to blame for the explosion.

Shirley claimed he knew that the furnace in the house was broken and had not been fixed properly, if at all.

"If I were to suspect anything, that's where the problem was," said Shirley, who noted that his ex-wife Monserrate Shirley had a "protective order" against him. However, Shirley said he did not believe his ex-wife would have caused the explosion intentionally.

"I don't think so, because there was no real reason to," Shirley said. "I pay a thousand dollars a month for one kid because she had a lawyer and I did not, so she has more than enough money. At one point the house was slipping into foreclosure. Last spring she had a buyer but she chose not to sell. We were in some bankruptcy but that's pretty well cleared up."

Monserrate Shirley and Leonard were reportedly visiting a casino at the time of the blast.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Authorities Probe Cause of Indianapolis Explosion

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Two days after a massive explosion in Indianapolis' Southside area left two people dead and dozens of homes destroyed, authorities continued their investigation Monday, and shaken residents banded together to help each other recover.

"It is still an investigation so we're very limited on the information we can give out," said Gary Coons, the chief of the Indianapolis division of the Department of Homeland Security. "We're looking at everything -- all causes, all possibilities. There's a lot of possibilities out there. ... There's a lot of possibilities that could trigger an explosion like this."

Authorities said they had launched a probe into the explosion, but cautioned they might not know the cause for days.

"You're talking days -- it could be weeks," Capt. Rita Burris, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Fire Department, told ABC News. "They're going over the scene and processing evidence. It's still in the investigation stage."

Sarah Holsapple, a spokeswoman for Citizens Energy, said that no gas leaks had been found and that other lines were being tested. She said, however, that she did not know how long the testing would take.

"It's too early to speculate if this could have been caused by a leak," Holsapple said.

Displaced residents gathered at a nearby Presbyterian church to meet with officials about when they could go retrieve any belongings from their houses. Most were told they would have only an hour to go in and take what they could.

Marcy Snow said she has been coming to the church since 1954. Her niece's home was destroyed in the blast.

"The main thing that I have seen repeatedly, manning this door, is people want to help," she said, standing in a room at the church full of food and supplies. "They're a very loving and giving community. They're proud to be here. They hate to see anybody hurting."

"They need time," she said, choking up.

The owner of a house in the blast area, who now lives elsewhere, said he believed a faulty furnace in the house caused the explosion, though Citizens Energy's Holsapple said the company had not gotten any calls about a faulty furnace.

"About a week and a half ago I got a text from my daughter that the furnace was out and they were going to spend the night at a hotel. If I were to suspect anything, that's where the problem was," said John Shirley, who is divorced and now lives in Noblesville, Ind. "Supposedly they got it fixed, but because of what happened I don't think they got it fixed. I think that's what caused the problem. It either wasn't fixed correctly or, knowing my ex-wife, she probably compromised on the fix."

Shirley said that his ex-wife, Monserrate, has "a protective order" against him.

Asked if he believed his ex-wife started the explosion intentionally, Shirley said, "I don't think so because there was no real reason to. I pay a thousand dollars a month for one kid because she had a lawyer and I did not, so she has more than enough money," he said. "At one point the house was slipping into foreclosure. Last spring she had a buyer but she chose not to sell. We were in some bankruptcy but that's pretty well cleared up."

When asked about Shirley's claims, Burris told ABC News, "That's totally too far to even say anything. I can't even speculate. It's totally not something we've heard, but I'm sure it's something we'll look into."

The explosion took place around 11 o'clock Saturday night, destroying dozens of homes in the Richmond Hill neighborhood south of downtown.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Indianapolis Neighborhood Explosion Leaves 2 Dead, at Least 4 Injured

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- An explosion that could be heard from miles away rocked an Indianapolis neighborhood, killing two people and injuring at least four others, while setting several homes ablaze overnight.

Windows and doors could be found a block or two away from the blast, which occurred in the Richmond Hill subdivision late Saturday night and was followed by a fire that raged through the neighborhood.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the explosion, which they initially believed was caused by natural gas, ABC News affiliate WRTV reported.

Four homes were destroyed and an additional 18 homes were damaged.

Kirk McDonald, who lives down the street from the explosion, said he felt his entire house shake.

"[It was] a loud explosion, then the whole house shook. Things [were] falling off the walls and stuff," he said.

At least 150 people were forced to evacuate the area as firefighters battled the massive blaze.

"As soon as I got to the house and I heard those people screaming, all I could think of was, you know, these people have to get out or they're not gonna make it," said neighbor David McDonald, who helped rescue a couple inside a house that later went up in flames.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been asked to help in the investigation.

The names of the two deceased victims have not been released.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Four-Year-Old Allegedly Stabbed to Death by Teen Cousin

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Police have arrested an Indianapolis teenager and preliminarily charged her with murder in connection to the stabbing death of her 4-year-old cousin.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police say they were called to a house where they found the little boy, Leon Thomas III, suffering from multiple stab wounds. The home belonged to his grandparents. Officers on the scene began administering CPR, and an EMS crew rushed him to IU Riley Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

“He was limp as he came out, and you also heard the police as the ambulance and people was coming up, you also heard them say, ‘It’s bad,’” a neighbor, Kevivah Parker, told ABC’s Indianapolis affiliate, WRTV.

Police later said they found the 14-year-old suspect a few blocks away, walking down the street “covered in blood.”  Her name is being withheld because she is a juvenile.

“It certainly is one of those cases that is just a tragedy for the family, and certainly for the first responding officers that had to witness that,” Indianapolis police spokesman Officer Kendale Adams told WRTV. “The hope is that [the 14-year-old] will get the services they need to become a better person. Obviously, this person needs a lot of social services and professional services.”

The children’s grandparents are believed to have been upstairs at the time of the incident. The victim’s 11-year-old sister was also present at the time of the attack.

The suspect could be charged as a child or an adult.  Indiana state law allows children as young as age 10 to be tried as adults in murder cases.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Five Teenagers Shot in Downtown Indianapolis

Hemera Technologies/ (INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.) -- Five teenagers were shot in downtown Indianapolis Saturday night, all of whom suffered serious injuries. 

Just before 10:30 p.m., police responded to Ohio and West Streets, after a report of shots being fired. Three of the teenagers were rushed to Riley Hospital for Children, and the other two were taken to Wishard Memorial Hospital, according to Indianapolis Metro Police Sgt. Linda Jackson.

The victims were two 14-year-old males, one 16-year-old female and two 17-year-old males, the Indianapolis Star reports. Three of them have been released from the hospital.

The shooter is still at large.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio 


Peyton Manning Says Goodbye to Indianapolis Colts

Andy Lyons/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Peyton Manning said farewell to the only NFL team he has ever known in an emotional press conference Wednesday in Indianapolis.

The Colts released Manning, ending his 14-year career with the team. His time with them included 11 trips to the playoffs, ten 4,000-yard passing seasons, four MVP awards and one Super Bowl victory.

“This town and this team mean so much to me. It truly has been an honor to play in Indianapolis. I do love it here,” Manning said Wednesday during a press conference with Colts owner Jim Irsay. “I love the fans and I will always enjoy having played for such a great team.”

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During the press conference Irsay announced that Manning’s number 18 jersey will be retired and broke down as he spoke about their time together.

“As difficult as this is, I know our journey hasn’t ended, it’s really just begun,” Irsay said. “I look down the road and see the many decades going forward that we’ll share together and how he’s always a part of the horseshoe.”

Manning missed last season with a neck injury that he suffered in the preseason. In his absence the Colts won only two games, earning them the number-one pick in the NFL draft.

The Colts will likely use that pick to sign either Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, both star quarterbacks in college.

“I’ve been a Colt for almost all of my adult life, but I guess in life, and in sports, we all know nothing lasts forever,” Manning said. “Times change, circumstances change and that’s the reality of playing in the NFL.”

Despite no longer being with the Colts, Manning said he has no plans to leave Indianapolis.

“This city has been so great to me and it’s still a huge part of my life,” he said. “It’s kind of a departure from the Colts, but it’s certainly not from the great city of Indianapolis.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Seventh Victim Dies after Indiana Stage Collapse

Joey Foley/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- A seventh victim of the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair has died following her placement on life support so her organs could be donated.

Meagan Toothman, 24, of Cincinnati, died at 3:30 p.m. Monday, according to the Indiana State Police and the Marion County Coroner's Office.  Doctors battled brain swelling after Toothman suffered catastrophic injuries following the Aug. 13 stage collapse.

Toothman was a cheerleading coach at Turpin High School in Cincinnati.  She was put into a medically-induced coma two days after the tragic stage collapse ahead of a performance by the band Sugarland.

Toothman's family said the organ donation "will provide gifts of sight, health and life to dozens who are in need."

"Late last night it became apparent that our Meagan was no longer with us," the family wrote in an online journal.  "The decision was made to allow to her to be at peace."

In addition to those who died, at least four dozen others were injured by the stage collapse.

Nearly 12,000 people had gathered to watch Sugarland perform. Minutes before the band was set to appear on the outdoor stage, winds of up to 70 mph blew down thousands of pounds of steel scaffolding, wooden beams, lighting, sound and other equipment.

The crowd had been warned that thunderstorms were approaching and that they might have to evacuate.  But the same announcer said concert organizers hoped the show would go on, prompting many in the audience to stay put.

Two minutes later, just before 9 p.m., the stage collapsed.

Officials said the accident was the worst at the Indiana fairgrounds since a 1963 explosion at the fairgrounds coliseum killed 74 people attending an ice skating show.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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