Special Reports

The five who went to prison for the crime

Call them the "dream team" of suspects.

Five people convicted for the deaths of six Kansas City firefighters all lived in a working class neighborhood just a mile from the 1988 explosion, where gossip and rumors about their possible involvement percolated for years.

All but one were high school dropouts. All used drugs and alcohol. And all had been in trouble with the law.

But of the three defendants given polygraph tests before their trial, all passed. All also refused to testify against any of the others in return for shorter sentences.

All continue to maintain their innocence.

"I feel for the families of the firefighters; I really do," said defendant Bryan Sheppard, an inmate in Kentucky. "But this case is not closed. As long as we sit in this prison, they don’t know the truth. They might think they do, because of what the government did to us, but the real people that did it are still out there."

Frank Sheppard

38 at the time of the explosions. He readily admits having an extensive criminal history, including robbery, burglary, assault, larceny and resisting arrest. Intelligent and well-spoken, Frank later earned a GED. But he had a mean streak, many say, especially when drinking.

Darlene Edwards

Frank’s girlfriend was 34 at the time of the explosions. She had filed an order of protection against him a month before the blasts, after she accused him of beating her. Darlene had been convicted of shoplifting, forgery, resisting arrest and felony drug distribution.

Earl "Skip" Sheppard

Frank’s younger brother was 28 at the time of the explosions. He had been in trouble for assault, larceny, stolen firearms and property destruction. Skip suffered two head injuries over the years that federal investigators said caused memory loss.

Bryan Sheppard

Frank and Skip’s nephew was 17 at the time of the explosions. Family members say he did not like or associate with his uncles or Darlene Edwards. He had been in trouble for stealing and drug violations.

Richard Brown

Bryan’s best friend was 18 at the time of the explosions. He had a reputation in Marlborough for fast women and fast cars. Richard made a game out of outrunning the police and was cited for careless driving. He was convicted of assault and escaped three times from the municipal farm.