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‘I need help:’ Jurors in 2nd explosion trial hear frantic phone call

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WISH) – Day five of testimony in the trial for Bob Leonard, Jr. is taking place right now in Fort Wayne.

Leonard is one of five people charged in connection with the deadly 2012 explosion on the south side of Indianapolis. His brother, Mark, was sentenced last year in South Bend to two life sentences without the possibility of parole, for his role in the Richmond Hill neighborhood explosion.

Prosecutors are working to prove that Bob Leonard Jr. helped his half brother, Mark, set an explosion in the Richmond Hill neighborhood in 2012, by filling Mark’s then-girlfriend’s home with gas then sparking the explosion. Prosecutors say it was all to gather insurance money.

During day five of testimony in Bob Leonard’s case, jurors heard difficult testimony.

They heard from the two firefighters who tried to save victim Dion Longworth as he was trapped inside the basement of his burning home. They also heard some of the last recorded words from Dion Longworth. It was part of the audio recording from the security company, who called him when the house alarm went off.

Longworth asked the representative, “I think my house just blew up… Notify an ambulance,. fire, police… I need everybody… I need something.”

The representative asked him questions, and he responded, “I’m bleeding, please…. I can see outside but I can’t get outside. I’m trapped. I can see burning… I can see fire… I need help, I need help. I need help.”

Later he said, “Please hurry.” Then the phone disconnected from that conversation. There were others the jury did not hear.

Dion and Jennifer Longworth both died that night. Investigators say Jennifer died instantly, but Dion was trapped in the basement. Though firefighters and neighbors tried to save him, the fast-moving fire overcame them, and they could not get Dion out.“He repeated, it’s very hot… get me out of here”

Jurors heard from the two firefighters who worked with neighbors to try to rescue Dion. Lt. Dean Teagardin with the Indianapolis Fire Department told jurors when they arrived, the Longworth’s home was 70-80% engulfed, and neighbors ran up to them to let them know someone was trapped in the back of the home.

“We could hear him before we could see him,” said Private Richard Shirven, also with IFD.

Teagardin said ‘he was talking to us and asking us to rescue him.” He explained it was extremely hot, and they could see Dion, talk to him, they were close enough to touch him, but they could not get him out.

“He repeated, it’s very hot… get me out of here,” recalled Lt. Teagardin.

As the fire grew too hot and started to overtake the area, the firefighters had to retreat.“I kept thinking they were going to show up”

Dion’s father, John Longworth, also spoke to jurors about the night of the explosion. He said he received a phone call saying there had been some type of explosion on Fieldfare Way, and knowing that was where his son and daughter in law lived, “that bothered me so I pulled on my clothes, took off in my car and headed south.”

He described trying to get to the Richmond Hill neighborhood, and it was blocked off. He went to the school nearby, and found a police officer. He remembered, “They have lists of names, but they don’t have Jennifer or Dion on them.”

Longworth described going to multiple hospitals, trying to find them, then back to the school, then a church.

They waited, and waited.

“I kept thinking they were going to show up… Somehow just show up,” said Longworth.

Nancy Buxton, Jennifer’s mom, also took the stand.

She described getting a call from Dion’s dad John, explaining something had happened in their childrens’ subdivision. They went to the school, and waited. Finally they learned two bodies had been found.“Total darkness”

Glenn and Gloria Olvey lived with their two daughters on the other side of Monserrate Shirley’s home, the epicenter of the explosion. That night, they were all watching television when “all of a sudden, everything went dark,” explained Gloria.

“It felt like someone had turned on a giant fan with a heat source behind it,” said Glenn.

Neighbors came and had to help them out of their living room. Part of the roof had fallen onto Gloria’s lap, and she was trapped. She said neighbors pryed some of the wood off of her, and she managed to escape.

At first, they weren’t sure where one of their daughters was. Finally, they found her as well. Gloria needed 33 stitches, and they all suffered multiple injuries.

Prosecutors also asked Gloria about the day before. She said at one point, she’d heard a hissing noise coming from the Shirley’s home near the gas meter. She said it sounded like a mechanical-type hiss, but she didn’t smell anything or see anything else.

Watch WISH-TV at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. for a wrap-up of Thursday’s testimony.

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