INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Investigators served new search warrants this week, as they continue to work to close the criminal case in the south side explosion.
It's now been nearly three weeks since the explosion, and no arrests have been made. But, the man leading the charge for answers says investigators are making steady progress, and are narrowing their list of potential suspects.
Speaking with WISH-TV--WTHI's sister station--following a meeting with officers at the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, Public Safety Director Troy Riggs was quick to praise the work that's continued since the moment the explosion hit.
"We had over 200 government employees at the initial blast," he said. "As we moved into the investigation and recovery and helping citizens rebuild their lives, on any given day you're going to have approximately 20 government employees working there."
That team of investigators includes IMPD and IFD detectives, along with representatives from the Indianapolis Homeland Security Department and other state and federal agencies.
SOLVING CRIME RIGHT, NOT QUICKLY
Despite the lack of "official" updates, Riggs says the team has made steady progress. Some caps on information have been by design, he added.
"Our ultimate goal is not to solve this crime quickly," Riggs said. "It's to make sure that we get successful prosecution down the road."
To do that, Riggs says officers have served "a number" of search warrants — though he wouldn't confirm how many, where they were executed, or exactly what officers are looking for. Each of those search warrants has been sealed by a judge, making it hidden from public view.
Officers served two search warrants last week , including one on Bob Leonard, who multiple sources have identified as the brother of Mark Leonard. Leonard lived with his girlfriend Monseratte Shirley in the home on Fieldfare Way believed to be at the center of the blast. Chopper 8 obtained video of officers removing a set of golf clubs from Bob Leonard's mobile home.
Another search warrant was served the previous week on a white van. 24-Hour News 8 obtained pictures of the van taken nearly one month ago outside the home on Fieldfare Way, and has since confirmed that the van belonged to Mark Leonard.
Riggs did confirm that investigators have been in contact with a long list of witnesses and others who are "connected to the neighborhood."
"We'll be questioning people on almost a daily basis and looking at evidence as it comes up," he said.
That information will then be combined with the results of forensic tests on debris from the site, which are now under way, Riggs said.
"There's things that will be analyzed, I'm sure. There's a lot of evidence we have to look at and process. [And], it's going to take all of that to make sure that we have a successful case," he said.
RIGGS URGES PATIENCE
On the lack of suspect identification so far, Riggs called for patience.
"It's a painstaking investigation. These are very difficult, these types of explosions. It's going to take some time. Hopefully, we can make an arrest and successfully hold the people or person accountable," he said.
Asked by 24-Hour News 8 when that might happen, Riggs said he wouldn't speculate.
"I'm not going to give any time frame on any potential arrests. I don't think that would be prudent. All of that will come out at a later time. Right now, I don't want to give anything away that would hurt us with the prosecution. But, I can assure you we're working hard. They're being very diligent," he said.
The Marion County Prosecutor's Office also confirmed search warrants have been served, but Prosecutor Terry Curry was unavailable for comment on who the warrants have been served on.
In the meantime, Riggs said teams of investigators will remain on the case full time. The department will release detailed figures on the hours they've worked and on the cost of the investigation so far by next week. There's no doubt, he added, that the response to the explosion and resulting investigation will have an impact on the department's budget next year, he added.
"I think people will be surprised by the enormity of what's been going on since day one," he said. "I think we have the best and brightest we have working to get to the truth."
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