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Richmond Hill blast twisted homes off foundation

Posted at 9:38 PM, Jan 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-26 21:40:09-05

FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Houses wrenched off their foundations, neighbors who risked their own safety for each other and already-suspicious behavior from Monserrate Shirley – jurors heard it all Tuesday during a whirlwind of testimony at the trial of Bob Leonard.

MORE | Full testimony from Day 3

Leonard, who faces 51 felony counts for his alleged role in the deadly Richmond Hill Explosion, sat silently as Marion County prosecutors called in more than a dozen neighborhood residents to recount the night of the blast:

Doug Aldridge, 3953 Towhees Drive – "My house looks directly down Fieldfare Way. I looked down and saw there was no house there. I told my son we needed to get down there. We had to pry the door open to get out."

Elizabeth Kelley, 3936 Towhees Drive – "The loudest noise I've ever heard in my life woke me up. My husband ran into the house yelling, 'It's gone! It's gone!' I said, what do you mean? Our house is right here. He said the neighbors' house was gone. I went out and looked and the house was gone and there was about a 3-foot fire."

Stephen Pridemore, 8404 Alcona Drive -- "My neighbor called out and said, 'We need help, somebody's trapped here.' I could see [the Longworths'] home was almost completely leveled to the ground. I could see where the chimney was there was a hole, and there was somebody trapped down there. I could see his arm reaching up. It had blood on it, but he was clearly still alive. They made a valiant effort to get through that small opening, but they just couldn't get through it. At that point, the fire was burning through the floor."

The one thing jurors did not hear was testimony from Doug Aldridge about his interaction with Monserrate Shirley on the night of the explosion.

MORE | Judge blocks testimony about Monserrate Shirley

Aldridge testified at the trial of Mark Ray Leonard, Bob Leonard's half-brother, that he and his wife were the first people to see Shirley at Mary Bryan Elementary school following the blast.

He told South Bend jurors he thought Shirley had "lied to us from the very beginning," but never got a chance to tell the Fort Wayne jury the same – prosecutors objected to a similar line of questioning from Bob Leonard's attorneys and Judge Frances Gull sustained the objection.

Jurors were ordered to report back to court Wednesday at 8:45 a.m.


Call 6 Investigator Rafael Sanchez and Senior Digital Correspondent Jordan Fischer will be in Fort Wayne covering the trial every day. Download the RTV6 app to get the latest live blog posts as the proceedings unfold.

FOLLOW | Rafael Sanchez on Twitter | Jordan Fischer on Twitter

RELATED LINKS | Richmond Hill Special Section |  Mark Ray Leonard convicted on all counts

PREVIOUS | Timeline of events | Gallery: The Richmond Hill Explosion | Where were you at 11:11 PM?

INTERACTIVE MAP | Residents relive Richmond Hill explosion


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