An Indiana woman has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for blowing up her own Indianapolis house, killing two neighbors and damaging dozens of homes in the process.
Monserrate Shirley, 51, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to commit arson last year. She also testified against her ex-boyfriend, Mark Leonard, and his half-brother Bob Leonard, who she named as co-conspirators in the scheme.
The plan was concocted by Mark, according to prosecutors. They said that in November of 2012, Mark went around the home, pouring gasoline in each of the bedrooms. He then removed safety valves to allow the home to fill with natural gas before setting a microwave to spark, which he’d hoped would trigger the explosion. Then, Monserrate and Mark went out of town and gambled at a casino, waiting for devastation and dreaming of the $300,000 in insurance money they were sure they’d receive.
Monserrate and Mark were far too stupid to contemplate what an obvious sabotage they’d laid out, and far too selfish to consider what kind of harm such a reckless plan could cause to others. The explosion was massive. A total of eighty other homes were damaged, with 30 of them suffering damage so severe they had to be demolished. Dion and Jennifer Longworth lived next-door to Monserrate. The couple was killed in the fire that resulted from the explosion.
You can see how intense the blast was in the news coverage below:
Both Mark and his half-brother Bob Leonard are serving life sentences. Monserrate faced a maximum of 50 years, as the murder charges were dropped with her plea deal. The judge gave Monserrate the max sentence because without her compliance, Mark would not have been able to carry out his plan. It was Monserrate that agreed to up her insurance policy and arranged her casino alibi. It is possible, with good behavior, that she could get out of prison in 21 years. At that point, she will be 72 years old.
Dion Longworth’s sister, Brookley Longworth, told reporters, “I don’t think she should ever get out of prison. I don’t think she should ever hold her daughter again.”
Kindness was in short supply among Monserrate’s other neighbors, who gathered to witness her sentencing. The nicest of the bunch wondered aloud why she’d rather destroy their neighborhood than ask him for help.
Image: Indianapolis PD