Filmmaker says he found new evidence in 1988 blast that killed six KC firefighters

by Micheal Mahoney Nov. 28,2018

A documentary filmmaker says he has found new evidence in the 1988 explosion that claimed the lives of six Kansas City, Missouri, firefighters.

That incident happened 30 years ago -- Nov. 29, 1988. Since then, questions have remained.

The huge blast of ammonium nitrate happened before dawn at a construction site near 71 Highway and 87th Street.

The cause of the blast was ruled arson.

Firefighters Thomas Fry, Gerald Halloran, Luther Hurd, James Kilventon Jr., Robert McKarnin and Micheal Oldham died answering the call.

Filmmaker Joe O'Connor says new evidence points to a second, separate fire in the pickup truck of two security guards there that morning.

O'Connor says there was combustible material on the truck's seat with different burn patterns than the rest of the truck.

"So it looks like someone tried to get rid of these materials in a separate fire event, and disguise them in the pickup truck fire remains," O'Connor said.

He also says it makes no sense for the five convicted defendants to have set a second, separate fire.

"Oh, I think it haunts us all," said attorney John Osgood.

Osgood was a defense attorney on that case.

"Very few of the cases I have participated in where I am convinced my client was not guilty," Osgood said.

"There is no physical evidence or any eyewitness that tied these defendants to the crime scene that morning," O'Connor said.

Prosecutors stand by the case.

Some members of the firefighters' families still have questions. Others believe justice was served.

Of the five defendants, one died in prison, three are still serving life sentences, and the fifth, Bryan Sheppard, was released last year because of a sentencing error.

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