Hundreds gather to mark 2 years since massive Indianapolis house explosion that killed couple


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INDIANAPOLIS — Hundreds of neighbors and relatives walked the streets of an Indianapolis subdivision wrecked by a large natural gas explosion two years ago before gathering for a ceremony remembering a couple killed in the blast.

Luminaries lined the sidewalks of the Richmond Hill neighborhood Sunday night and others formed a large cross in the driveway to where Dion and Jennifer Longworth's home stood before a neighboring house exploded on Nov. 10, 2012.

Emily Voss said she was glad the vigil was helping keep memories of her brother and sister-in-law alive.

"I want to feel that there is still some part of me connected to them and this is the sweetest way you can possibly do that," Voss told WRTV.

About half of the 30 homes that were destroyed or torn down after the explosion have been replaced. Monserrate Shirley, her then-boyfriend Mark Leonard and his brother, Bob Leonard, are awaiting trial on charges that they rigged a natural gas explosion in Shirley's home in hopes of collecting insurance money to cover mounting gambling and credit card debt.

Robert Stevenson, who has lived in the neighborhood on the city's far south side about five years, performed with a group that sang during Sunday's vigil. He said the neighborhood's residents have come together since the night of the explosion.

"The healing is coming along," Stevenson told The Indianapolis Star. "People are always willing to help, and people are always looking out for each other."

Those at the vigil sang "Amazing Grace" as two luminary balloons were released into the sky in memory of Dion Longworth, a 34-year-old electronics expert, and his 36-year-old wife, second-grade teacher Jennifer Longworth.

The Leonards and Shirley have all pleaded not guilty to murder and arson charges in the explosion. A judge in northern Indiana's St. Joseph County has scheduled Mark Leonard's trial to start next June, while it is unclear when trials for Bob Leonard and Shirley will be held.

Neighborhood resident Michelle Waddey told WISH-TV she's blessed her home remained intact after the explosion and hopes the area continues to recover.

"This little section was very close to begin with, now it's just, we're tied for life to each other," she said.

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