The Herald Bulletin

November 29, 2013

Couple whose home destroyed returns to Indianapolis subdivision


The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — The next-door neighbors of the couple killed in an explosion that ravaged an Indianapolis neighborhood last year say it was important that they could move back to their rebuilt home before the holidays.

The home belonging to Natasha and Kevin Cole was destroyed in the November 2012 explosion in the Richmond Hill subdivision on the city's far south side.

The aftermath of the explosion has left them much for which to be grateful, Natasha Cole told WTHR-TV.

"We have our (lives) and we can share our experience and know that things will get better and that people do care," she said. "It can be difficult but you take it one day at a time and keep moving forward. We have our faith and our friends."

About 30 homes were destroyed or had to be torn down after blast that damaged dozens of other houses. Dion and Jennifer Longworth were killed by the explosion that was centered in the house on the opposite side of the Coles' home.

Cole said she was still devastated by the deaths of her neighbors, although she's glad she is among those who've decided to return to the neighborhood — and that she and her husband were back before Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"It was very important; I love the Christmas season," she said. "I'm very excited about setting up the tree and decorations and maybe having friends over."

The owner of the house that exploded, Monserrate Shirley, along with her then-boyfriend Mark Leonard and his brother, Bob Leonard, are awaiting trial on charges of murder and arson.

Authorities have said Shirley and the Leonards rigged a natural gas explosion in Shirley's home in hopes of collecting insurance money. All three have pleaded not guilty.