INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The search for clues that could prove of criminal intent in the south side explosion is going high tech. Sources tell 24-Hour News 8 that testing is now underway at several sites on evidence removed from the blast site.
The testing involves forensic analysis on chemicals, accelerants and fire debris, among other things.
Forensic testing can often make or break a case.
"You're going to look at what's going on, collect evidence, collect your observations and then you're going to come up with a hypothesis. And you may have to test your hypothesis. And, you may have to rule out potential theories based on your testing," said Chad Ford.
FULL COVERAGE | Richmond Hill explosion
Ford is a firefighter who currently serves as the Indiana Chapter President of the International Association of Arson Investigators. He also works as an analyst for private investigations, like those conducted by insurance companies.
"You have the involvement of many law enforcement sources, fire investigators, police, ATF, Homeland Security and the prosecutor's office. But, there are others too. The insurance companies for all those houses are going to want to have answers and make the decision whether they're going to pay the insurance claims. Each individual insurance company will have their own investigator there. So, you're going to have multitude of investigators involved in the private side as well," Ford said.
Ford is not directly involved in the Richmond Hill investigation, but because the firm he works for is, he can't talk specifically about what the evidence in an ongoing investigation shows.
But, he's investigated scenes like the one there before.
"It's important to get in there and assess things before people get in there and start moving things around, moving items from place to place. Where everything initially falls or lands or how fire debris is located can all indicate different things in the investigation. There are certain things you're looking for that will help you determine high or low velocity explosives," Ford said.
PHOTOS | View photos from the explosion site
Now that much of that analysis is complete, the search has moved to a smaller scale inside the lab. Sources confirmed to 24-Hour News 8 Wednesday that the analysis of that evidence at the lab is aimed at proving criminal intent.
Ford says in criminal cases, that's a critical step.
"You can't go to court with just half answers. You have to go to court with complete and full answers," he said.
But, finding all of those answers can take time.
Breaks in other cases Ford has investigated have come months or even years after the initial blast. And Ford says this explosion was complicated by massive flames.
"Fire burns up and destroys some of your evidence," he said. "That can make it a bigger challenge. It's a large scene. So, some of the things we may do is grid it off and work grid by grid. You have to dig it out and sift through the debris. If you want to find the truth, it's not something you rush to do."
Indianapolis Homeland Security said it believed natural gas was behind the explosion nearly two weeks ago. But, in the days since classifying it as a criminal act, investigators have paid particularly close attention to the gas meter outside the home at the center of the blast. Sources confirmed to I-Team 8 last week that the meter was found intact, and that readings taken off of it after the explosion show "elevated usage levels."
Finding out why and proving it was done on purpose may now depend on the forensic clues.
"If they want to get to the truth, they need to let those investigators do their jobs. They'll know the truth as soon as the truth is made available," Ford said.
That evidence will then go hand in hand with witness statements and interviews.
Randall Cable, who serves as attorney for Mark Leonard and Monseratte Shirley, the couple who lived in the home at the center of the blast said last week that his clients were interviewed by investigators at least three times in the days following the blast, but had not spoken with them since.
24-Hour News 8's calls to Cable on Tuesday and Wednesday were not been returned.
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