INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - One of the people arrested Friday in connection with the south side explosion has an extensive criminal background. As 24-Hour News 8 first reported in the days following the blast, reports show Mark Leonard was previously arrested for battery, robbery and fraud.
I-Team 8 also spoke with several women who say they've been swindled by Leonard before.
They call him a "con man," who was always looking for their next score.
Long before the explosion, long before the arrests, Vicki Peyton and Kim Barker fell head over heels for "The Troubadour." That's the name on Mark Leonard's profile on one of several dating sites he allegedly used.
His smile, Barker says, was all it took.
"He was very charming. He likes to really pour it on like he's got all this big money and wants to take care of the women," Barker said.
Peyton saw it too.
"We went down to French Lick. [It was his idea.] He got a room comped and meals comped. He was a high roller," Peyton said.
But, the initial romance quickly wore off, both said.
"He borrowed money and didn't pay me back is when I thought--oh no, what have I done," Peyton said.
Barker says she found the same problem when she agreed to let Leonard and his friend David Gill "fix up" her house.
Gill has not been charged in connection with the explosion.
"[Leonard] destroyed my home. [He] took out everything in the kitchen, cabinets, sinks...my house wasn't functional," she said.
When she told him to put it all back, Barker says he demanded more money.
"He said—more money, more money, or we're taking off now and packing up," she said.
Then came what Peyton calls "her final straw."
"When we were driving at the casino he offered to get my car rear ended so we could get a Cadillac," Peyton said. "He was like--I could stop real quick and we could get rear ended. That would be easy to do."
Leonard has a lengthy criminal past with arrests dating back to his teens. He served time behind bars in Indiana twice--for drug possession in 1992 and for intimidation and stalking in 2007.
But he's also been in and out of jail more than a dozen times, including arrests for robbery, public indecency, DUI and driving with a suspended license. One police report on a battery charge accuses Leonard of threatening an ex-girlfriend, telling her he would "cut her [expletive] child in half."
Earlier this year, police were also called to a south side strip club to break up a fist fight between Leonard and Gill.
Peyton and Barker both called the arrest of Leonard "chilling."
"It still gives me goose bumps," Peyton said.
Both women filed lawsuits against Leonard, trying to recover money they say he owes them. Both also got restraining orders against Leonard.
As the call for information on a white van was broadcast in early November, Peyton also said she knew she'd seen it before.
"I took these because I had a judgment against Mr. Leonard," she said, pointing to pictures of a Cadillac and white van in the driveway of the Shirley home. "I took these about three weeks before [the explosion]. This is the work van they owned. I thought—that's it. It's all just terribly sad."
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