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Arson and fraud mix in a deadly combo

Fraud is a non-violent offense, right? Most times. But this is the story of how fraudulent economic arson in a small suburban neighborhood in Indianapolis, Indiana, turned deadly. Community members are reassembling their lives. Here are lessons from the investigation for discovering evidence on arson-for-profit cases.

One witness described the events of Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, at 11:10 p.m. as “chaos” when a huge explosion rocked the neighborhood of Richmond Hill on the south side of Indianapolis, Indiana. Another witness thought it was an earthquake. She ran out of her partially destroyed home and saw her community on fire. A third witness wondered if it was the end of the world. (See Resident feared ‘mass shooter in neighborhood’ on night of Richmond Hill blast, by Matt Adams, Fox 59, June 11, 2015.)

An earthquake monitoring system approximately 50 miles away from ground zero of the blast likely detected sound wave data in the form of an “airwave boom.” (See the IndyStar’s Richmond Hill timeline.)

In the moments after the blast, first responders arrived to a scene of annihilation. Debris littered the streets and neighborhood yards, homes were destroyed, fires raged and families were displaced. Many were shell-shocked at what could’ve caused such destruction. Firefighters and emergency medical personnel quickly secured the scene. The No. 1 priority was attending to the injured victims and getting them the medical attention needed.

Police confirmed that John “Dion” Longworth and his wife, Jennifer, a second-grade elementary school teacher, had died from the blast.

Engineering crews spent the next several days surveying the structural integrity of homes and buildings within a two-block radius of the explosion. At least 32 homes were deemed unsafe; 10 of which sustained major damage. Total property damage estimates were more than $4 million. (See Damage estimate from house explosion climbs to $4.4 million, by Amanda Rakes, Fox 59, Nov. 16, 2012.)

The events of that evening would play out like a made-for-TV crime drama in the next several years.


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