The explosion in a quiet suburb of Indianapolis that killed two people and severely damaged dozens of homes last week was no accident. Local Homeland Security officials, along with the ATF, admitted as much on Monday night when they announced that they'd opened a criminal homicide investigation into the incident. Before you jump to any conclusions, though, there's been no mention of big words like "terrorist" or "attack." So far, the very mysterious case of the exploding subdivision appears to be a case of arson gone wrong.
At the center of the investigation is a white van that was spotted in the Richmond Hills subdivision just outside of Indianapolis on November 10, the day of the attack. Authorities are in search of any clues about what the suspicious van -- when are vans not suspicious? -- and are offering up rewards ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to any information that leads to a conviction. In the meantime, the investigation has been focused on the home of Monserrate Shirley, whose house is believed to be the origin of the explosion. The story was already scary when we thought it was an accident. Now that it looks like an intentional act, we're simply petrified.
Shirley's story does sound pretty shady. According to the local newspaper, Shirley and her felon boyfriend Mark Leonard left town the weekend of the attack, boarded their cat and left Shirley's daughter with friends. There was also a strange truck parked in the house's driveway the day of the attack that later left. A few weeks before the explosion, the 47-year-old had her furnace serviced, which might explain why local authorities first blamed the explosion on a natural gas leak. Shirley had also tried to sell the house, valued at $230,000, earlier this year after she and her now ex-husband had filed for bankruptcy. The couple still owed $225,794 on the house, and the insurance company isn't talking.
Whatever happened in Richmond Hill that day, nobody won. A lot of people lost their homes. Somebody will probably go to jail for murder. And the rest of the country is now afraid of exploding houses.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.