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Home explosion now homicide investigation

Published November 19, 2012 10:05 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Indianapolis • Authorities launched a homicide investigation Monday into the house explosion that killed two people and left numerous homes uninhabitable in an Indianapolis neighborhood.

Indianapolis Homeland Security Director Gary Coons made the announcement after meeting with residents affected by the Nov. 10 blast and just hours after a funeral for the husband and wife who were killed. The couple lived next door to the house where investigators believe the explosion occurred. Hundreds of people attended the funerals earlier Monday for 34-year-old John Dion Longworth and 36-year-old Jennifer Longworth. She was a teacher remembered for knitting gifts for her students, while her husband, an electronics expert, was known as a gardener and nature lover.

"We are turning this into a criminal homicide investigation," Coons said, marking the first time investigators have acknowledged a possible criminal element to the case.

Search warrants have been executed, and officials are now looking for a white van that was seen in the subdivision the day of the blast, Marion County prosecutor Terry Curry said. Federal authorities are offering a $10,000 reward for information in the case.

Curry said the investigation is aimed at "determining if there are individuals who may be responsible for this explosion and fire," but neither he nor Coons took questions or indicated if investigators had any suspects.

Officials have said they believe natural gas was involved in the explosion, which destroyed five homes and left dozens damaged, causing an estimated $4.4 million in damage.