INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Friday marked the five-year anniversary of a tragedy that changed the south side of Indianapolis forever.
At 11:10 p.m. on November 10, 2012, Liz Kelley and her neighbors in the Richmond Hill subdivision experienced a life-altering trauma.
“The loudest noise that I’ve ever heard. … You almost didn’t hear it, but you felt it,” Kelley said. “(My husband) grabbed me by the shoulders and said, ‘Go outside, the neighbor’s house is gone.'”
A home on Fieldfare way, just yards away from Kelley, had exploded. What followed were moments of chaos, confusion, and life-saving actions on the part of first responders, like Indianapolis Fire Department Lt. Russ Futrell.
“We were the first ones responding,” Futrell said. “It became apparent that there was something huge that had happened in that area.”
A young couple, Jennifer and Dion Longworth, lost their lives that day. Futrell said he looked into their home first, but heard no voices, so he moved on. It’s something he’s revisited many times in five years.
“Had I known what we had there at that point, I would have done anything in order to get in there and help them,” Futrell said.
The night of the explosion, our cameras captured homeowner Monserrate Shirley and her boyfriend, Mark Leonard, at a nearby school. It wouldn’t take long to learn that the pair, along with Leonard’s brother Bob and two others, had conspired to blow up Shirley’s house on purpose.
All five suspects would ultimately be convicted on various charges and be sent to prison.
On the fifth anniversary, Futrell and Kelley said it’s hard not to think about the fact that what happened was an intentional act.
“I don’t think you get over that. You learn how to live in that new reality,” Kelley said.
“Frustrating … to think that somebody would be that type of person or persons that would do something like that,” Futrell said.
Futrell took part in counseling after that night. Kelley was later diagnosed with PTSD, and said she still experiences symptoms.
“Thunder. … If it’s really close it’ll scare me, remind me of that night,” Kelley said. “There’s a constant awareness now that I have, of how do I escape a situation?”
Despite that, Kelley was one of the neighbors who ultimately opted to fight her insurance company, tear down her house, and rebuild.
“It’s about 50/50 right now, the people that lived here when it happened, the people that didn’t. We’re down to about 50 percent probably,” Kelley said.
Futrell also stayed: he still works out of the same fire station, occasionally responding to calls inside the neighborhood.
“I know every single street that’s in (the) Richmond Hill subdivision,” Futrell said. “Living life day to day and appreciating life is one of those things that I think I appreciate more, because it’s an event I hope to never go through again.”
For her part, Kelley said she has managed to forgive her neighbor, Shirley, despite what she did.
“I prayed with her in the neighborhood, afterwards, and there was a lot of betrayal there for a couple years. … Once she was sentenced, I kind of have to let that go, and I finally was able to forgive her,” Kelley said.
Kelley also said she hoped that people who didn’t experience the tragedy first-hand will still remember it on this anniversary, and in the years to come.
“Our neighbors died and I will never, ever forget what they sacrificed,” Kelley said.