INDIANAPOLIS - The couple who lived in the home that exploded on Indianapolis' south side said the ordeal has been a nightmare and is pleading for privacy.
Monserrate Shirley and her boyfriend, Mark Leonard, told RTV6's Stacia Matthews on Thursday that they learned about the deadly explosion in their Richmond Hill subdivision from calls from neighbors while at a central Indiana casino.
Special Section: Indy Explosion
"(My neighbor said,) 'There was a huge explosion in our neighborhood and we were looking for your body. We were looking for Brooke,'" Shirley said, referring to her 12-year-old daughter, who also lived in the home, but who was not home at the time.
Leonard said the couple raced back to Indianapolis, learning on the way about the scope of the blast, which killed a couple that lived next door and leveled several homes.
"We consider ourselves pretty lucky right now, to be honest with you," he said. "It's miserable, but we're making do with what we've got."
The couple, who spoke in the office of their attorney, said they've lost everything and have endured days of questioning with investigators.
"It's a big devastation, and we're doing everything we can do help the police investigators, the fire department, the (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives)," Leonard said.
"People are talking to me and asking me questions. I mean, I tell everyone the truth," Shirley said. "Everybody's after me, asking me questions. I've answered everything."
Shirley's ex-husband, John Shirley of Noblesville, has said his daughter told him they were having furnace problems, but Monserrate Shirley said a thermostat had recently been replaced at the home, fixing the heating issues.
Investigators said they are focusing on appliances in the home as the possible source of the blast.
"(Whoever is responsible) have to pay for what they did to me and everybody else," Monserrate Shirley said, her voice breaking. "I don't know what happened. Somebody knew that I was out of town. I should have been there."
The couple is currently staying in a hotel and getting help from family, friends and their church. They pleaded for time to themselves to process what has happened.
"Everybody wants to know what's going on, but we're dealing with a lot, you know," he said. "Why don't they just leave us alone so we can try to get some sleep? We just need to be left alone."