Suspect in 1988 explosion that killed 6 KC firefighters considered for compassionate release

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nearly 32 years ago, six Kansas City firefighters were killed in a south Kansas City construction site explosion.

It was one of the worst to ever shake the metro.

“Pretty awesome it really, getting the bodies out of here and putting another company in service, getting the equipment ready and all that. It was…we had guys that transferred away from there,” retired KCFD Capt. Robert Umphress said.

In 1997, five people were sentenced to life in prison for causing the explosion. Now one of those co-defendants, Darlene Edwards, is asking for a compassionate release due to COVID-19.

Local 42 President Tim Dupin is against it.

“We don’t believe that she’s shown regret or remorse for the crime and that she should be released,” Dupin said.

Bryan Sheppard was one of the five convicted in the case.

He was released in 2017 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled mandatory life sentences are unconstitutional for minors. Sheppard was 17 at the time of the incident.

Sheppard insists he, Darlene and the thee others are innocent. The other three who are still alive deserve to be free, he said. He added they weren’t at the scene of the explosion.

“I’m behind Darlene getting out 100%. I want the rest of them to get out as well,” Sheppard said.

Sheppard said he hopes the families of the six fallen firefighters get justice.

“They deserve the truth just like we do. We may have been in prison suffering for many, many years. But they’ve lost their loved ones,” Sheppard said.

Edwards will have a hearing this Friday, where a judge will review her case for compassionate release.

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