The Defendants

Letters from Leavenworth

In advance of their sentencing on Wednesday, July 2, 1997, each of the five convicted persons wrote letters to The New Times in Kansas City in response to articles by J. J. Maloney, who covered the trial and sentencing. New Times publisher and editor, J. Patrick O'Connor, also attended the sentencing hearing and became a life-long advocate for the defendant's innocence. In 2009, this page was updated to include more personal information about the defendants. Feel free to contact them at the addresses below.

G. Frank Sheppard

G. Frank Sheppard
USP McCreary
P.O. BOX 3000
PINE KNOT, KY  42635


Frank Sheppard

Hello, please let me introduce myself in print. I am Frank Sheppard and am very glad to meet you. Yes, I am!

I am, as you know, one of the five convicted wrongly of the firemen's 1988 explosion. I would like to express some of my thoughts to you and J. J. Maloney.

Number one thing is thank you very much for trying to help us with the very informative articles in your paper New Times. Number two, do not stop this pursuit of the truth about this lame-duck case in KCMO. The reason I say lame duck is this: To me it seems a slap in the face and an insult to everybody in Kansas City that cares about honesty, integrity, and professionalism of the court system and police agencies in KCMO. Including the Feds! It's as though 811 Grand (KCPD Headquarters) can do anything to anybody and get away with it!

But, maybe not so now that you and J. J. both have gotten involved. Push them damn it! With this new push, maybe you can force a stop to our sentencing phase of this flimflam!

Mr. O'Connor, I just read in USA Today, Thursday June 12th, that an investigation was ordered by an Oklahoma judge concerning a cover-up by FBI agents. It's as though this case and ours are distant cousins. If it can there, why not here?

The Oklahoma grand jury probe investigation was sought by State Rep. Charles Key (Republican). Part of the procedure to grant this probe was a petition of signatures. Hell, we can do that here, can't you?

[U.S. Attorney Stephen] Hill, [U.S. District Judge Joseph] Stevens, [Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul] Becker, [U.S. Labor Department attorney Dan] Miller, and [ATF Special Agent Dave] True, I guess they are kind of proud of themselves for pulling off (so far) but I know that you, J. J., Pat O'Connor and The New Times can stop this! It just has to be pushed. Ronnie Edwards's [the government's key witness before the grand jury] lying testimony and Becker and True are lying to the grand jury.

Well, J. J., this letter is also yours and how I feel about your help (mainly your help) but I wanted to thank you both and also Mr. O'Connor.

Would you do me a favor? Get me the hell out of here!

Also, to the staff and all at New Times, thank you.

Frank Sheppard


About Frank Feb 1, 2009

"Here I am 58 years old. I will be 59 June 9th, 2009 and I feel like I'm withering away being locked up. I stay in shape because I constantly workout. It's not vanity, it's just that I'd like to be able to enjoy life if I do get out of here not be a worn out couch potato!! So working out and staying in shape is a passion of mine. I haven't smoked a cigarette in years and to be honest, I don't miss the smokes and I don't think I will smoke again.

I'm definitely into hot-rod cars. Always have been and always will be. I've had hot-rod cars on the streets I drove.

I'm also into politics! But GREED seems like the sole driving force of politics. We've got a good country USA, but we are perceived around the world as greedy bullies! And that is not the way it should be. I think it takes a not very good person to scam on other people. Whether it be their misfortune or their ignorance about something, or maybe just their trusting belief in people and the people that prey on people--are worthless. From the Federal Reserve Bank on down the line.

Another like of mine is athletics of any kind. Baseball, Football, Boxing, Tennis, Golf, the Olympics. I'm athletically inclined.

And since I've gotten older I like to read more than I used to and that means I like to read everything; books, magazines and newspapers. And even in prison there never seems to be enough time to read! I know that seems crazy, but it's the "anxiety" of being jammed into a sardine can, you might say, that keeps you from reading as much as you want to. Being in the hole sometimes you read a lot! But that goes back to anxiety again, do you really want to be in the hole and go through all the inconvenience ? Hell of a trade off!"


Earl "Skip" Sheppard

Earl "Skip" Sheppard

died of cancer July 25, 2009

Earl "Skip" Sheppard

--from Skip Sheppard

To J. J. Maloney and Patrick O'Connor:

Hello there. My name is Skip Sheppard (Earl O. Sheppard). I would just like to say thank you for your interest in our case. You are the only good word I have had through this whole case.




About Skip:

 "I am a quiet guy. I like to fish, hunt, play pool. I love girls. When I have a girlfriend its for years and years. I like to be by myself quite a bit. I am Good People."


Bryan Sheppard

Bryan Sheppard
Released March 6th, 2017

Bryan Sheppard

6-17-97, 2:20 a.m.

Well J. J.,

I haven't been putting you off, just waiting for the words to thank you for all that you have done for us all and I'm still at a loss for words. I still can't believe that people out there really do care how this all turns out for us, even though I feel that my life, as well as the lives of the others, is over. I don't see ever getting out. They are the law and they got and did just what they wanted and it doesn't seem to bother anybody where the government is concerned.

I just wish there were more people out there just like you. I could keep on going with that but I'll just leave that alone, because I can't do anything. I'm just nobody and that don't count.

But like I said before, I'm very grateful to have you on my side, and I hate to put this on your shoulders, but I think you're our only hope besides God. I loved each and every article that you wrote and so do a lot of people, they really tell it how it is. I wish that the whole world would have seen you when you were on TV that night. [Mr. Maloney appeared on KCPT's "This Week in Review"] on May 16, 1997, the day after the first part of the "Firefighters Case: Frame-Up" was published in The New Times.]

As far as the articles go, they were like a dream come true. If only the rest of the world would have seen them too. I am praying that Senators Bond and Ashcroft and Congressional Representitive McCarthy read what you write and do something about all that has happened. We are people too, we have family, we have lives. Six people have died and it's just not right to go and take five more lives while the crime is still unanswered. You already know all that. But most of all, thank you very much and keep up the good work and I'll sign off as one more innocent person.

P.S. I think you should come and interview all of us. I bet you already have that in mind anyway.

Thank you!

Bryan Sheppard


About Bryan:

"I am one of those people that loves the rain. I love Hot Rods, 'I'm a Motorhead'. I would love to see the ocean and if at all possible race a big fast speedboat. I would love to do some traveling. We only live once so I would love to see New York, east coast-- west coast--Marti Gras. I don't care for cold weather, My old bones can't handle it. I would also love to be able to learn the game of golf. After spending time with my daughter, I would be spending time in Florida."


Richard Brown

Richard Brown
USP Coleman
P.O. Box 1033
Coleman, FL 33521

Richard Brown

Hello J. J. what's up?

This is Richard Brown. How are you doing today? Good, I hope. Well, I want to thank you for all that you're doing for us because you're the only one that's helping us right now besides our families and we are very grateful for what you have done for us. If there is anything we can do, come to CCA (Corrections Corporation of America is the pre-sentencing holding facility in Leavenworth, Kan., where the five defendants were being held.) and let me know.

By the way, those were some killer papers that you wrote. I'm glad we have someone like yourself helping us. I guess you can say we owe you one for what you have done for us.

This jail sucks. You can't smoke or anything. I have to look at my kids through a glass. It's hard to imagine how that feels, seeing your kids trying to kiss you through the glass. Shit, that's what gets me the most. I can't sleep because I'm thinking about this case on my family. When is it going to stop? Soon I hope. Well, good luck and thanks.

Richard Brown


About Richard from the KC Star June 29, 2008

"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."


Darlene Edwards

Darlene Edwards
Carswell FMC
PO Box 27137
Fort Worth, Texas 76127

Darlene Edwards

--from Darlene Edwards

Mr. O'Connor,

I have read two of your articles concerning the arrest and conviction of the five people from south Kansas City.

The articles were well written and very informative. The evidence and facts you presented were very true. I know these defendants are innocent. I am one them. I am Darlene, the female accused of that terrible tragedy.

I cried tears of joy when I read the articles in your paper. I thought the only people who believed us was our families and attorneys.

I am writing to you to thank you for seeing past the bull and looking for the true criminals. In this case the criminals are not only the person or persons responsible for the fire but also the people who lied and in this case our own system.

May God help us!

Once again, thank you!

Darlene Edwards


About Darlene:

"My Name is Darlene. I have been in federal custody since February of 1995.

My mom is still doing fine and playing bingo for excitement. My Daddy went to heaven a few years ago. Gosh, I sure do miss him. I never got to tell him goodbye, but I know that one day in the future I will see him again. I plan on spending lots of time with my mom when I get home. Bingo excitement sounds wonderful. I'm so ready to walk through the garden and smell the roses.

I have two children. My son is 38 and stays with my mom. He sure does love her. He also has two sons that he shares custody of. My baby daughter is 32 and has two sons and a daughter.

I get to talk to them all real often. Since I've only had 1 visit with my grandbabies, I make sure that they know who I am. I love them all so much and have their love as well.

My grandbabies always let me know what they want for Christmas. I make a lot of different things for them. I have crocheted them all afghans and made them all kinds of stuffed animals, clowns and dolls for my granddaughter. I also do beadwork for my family such as jewelry, fish, key chains, and each of them has a snowflake tree ornament specially made. I also like to cross-stitch, paint and draw. I make really nice cards, beaded and cross-stitched for them on the holidays.

I also read lots of books, all different kinds of books, as well as reading the bible everyday.

I work full time, 40 hours at Unicor. I have worked at the same place for over six years. I work with Directory assistance in the Quality Assurance. I will listen to recorded calls and see if I can make any suggestions to improve the service. I also have to bring to my supervisors attention if an operator is not polite to a customer. Thankfully, that doesn't happen often.  I enjoy my job and have learned a valuable skill to use when I get home.

As you can see, I keep myself busy and try to stay out of trouble.

I also love sunsets, butterflies, birds chirping and beautiful summer days. I miss swimming, picnics, going to the zoo, and walking in woods. I miss driving to the mall, just to window shop while drinking a cherry-limeade. I miss camping, fishing, cook-outs, and swinging in the park during a summer rain.

Most of all I miss hugging my family goodnight. Telling them that I love them before each time we part. Seeing my mom, children and grandbabies smile means the world to me.

I try to keep busy and stay hopeful that this nightmare is almost at an end. That faith, and my faith in GOD, keeps me going day after day."

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