Search warrants yield new clues in south side explosion probe

Warrants detail DNA, computers, phone records


Police and prosecutors have kept quiet about many details in the south side explosion investigation, but new clues are emerging from 22 search warrants that are now cataloged in the case.

While nearly all of the search warrants remain sealed by a judge’s order, the Call 6 Investigators were able to review basic details on those warrants through filings entered in the Marion County Clerk’s office after Christmas.

Those filings are hand-written in a log book with nearly one entire page being devoted to explosion-related warrants, which were signed by criminal court judges in November and December.

Prosecutors have mentioned the existence of search warrants since the day they revealed that the explosion was a criminal act, but they have never described any specifics of what was being searched.

One court order was obtained, allowing police to harvest evidence from computers and hardware now being examined at a local police crime lab.

Homeowner Monserrate Shirley and her boyfriend Mark Leonard were arrested last week along with the boyfriend’s brother Bob Leonard, Jr.  

Prosecutors released documents on the day of their arrest, revealing that Mark Leonard owned two laptops and an all-in-one computer.     

No details have emerged yet on what, if anything, has been discovered on those computers.

Search warrants were also signed, allowing police to take fingerprints and DNA samples from the male suspects in the case long before they were arrested.

The prints and the DNA of the Leonard brothers could be used to match a man’s DNA that was recovered on the front door of the home where the devastating and fatal explosion was triggered. 

Court records also show that fingerprints were found inside several vehicles that were searched as part of the investigation.

One search warrant also allowed police to take DNA samples and fingerprints from a fourth suspect, who has yet to be charged in connection with the crime.

A lead investigator on the case told Call 6 Investigators that he’s hoping for a fourth arrest in the case soon.  He said the three suspects who are already jailed could feel enough pressure to implicate that fourth person, or additional evidence could be developed in the coming days to allow for that arrest.

The list of search warrants also revealed that six homes or buildings were searched, including the leveled remains of Shirley’s home where the blast was triggered.  Also searched was Bob Leonard’s trailer home, weeks before he was arrested, as well as a conference center on East Thompson Road, where Mark Leonard was in charge of demolition for the property owner.

Three different vehicles were searched, including the Ford Taurus that Shirley and her boyfriend had taken to a casino the night of the explosion and a Ford van that was owned by Mark Leonard.

Nine different warrants were signed for records surrounding calls and text messages to various phones that were suspected of being tied to the case. One of those phones belonged to Mark Leonard, and court records indicate those texts and call records have already been analyzed by investigators in the case.

Investigators have yet to reveal whether relevant fingerprints have been found on any of the fireplace or other gas lines that had been tampered with in the Shirley home before the explosion. If prints are found in those locations, prosecutors could use the search warrants to match prints from the suspects to those gas pipes.

The defense attorney for Shirley and her boyfriend has said in the past that prosecutors have only circumstantial evidence in the case, but lab analysis of many of the items listed in the search warrants remains under way.

Since the warrants remain sealed, only those connected with the case have access to the inventories of exactly what has turned up as the result of the 22 search warrants.

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