On Saturday, Nov. 24, 1984, Deborah “Tara” Green and Cathy Dopler were inside a first-floor bedroom at 1512 Belle Ave., Davenport, when they heard an explosion in the front of the house.
Dopler, the aunt to Green’s three children, Cindy, 6, John Richard “J.R.” Green Jr., 3, and Mark, 1, said that after the explosion, “Tara got up and ran through the living room yelling at the kids to get out,” according to a Quad-City Times story published Sunday, Nov. 25, 1984, by reporter Lucy Moll.
Cindy was in the kitchen at the time and ran out the back door. But the two boys were in an upstairs bedroom, trapped.
Richard died that day of smoke-inhalation. Mark died at 3:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 25, at University Hospitals, Iowa City.
The flames and smoke were so intense that efforts to rescue the children were in vain.
Davenport Police Sgt. Allen Sylvia went into the house by way of the back door and crawled through the kitchen toward the living room. “It reached the point where I was cooking,” Sylvia said after Davenport firefighters pulled him out by his ankles and treated him for smoke inhalation.
According to the Davenport Fire Department District Chief Art Kenyon, the fire started in two places – just outside the front of the house and inside the front door – just after the explosion was heard.
Kenyon said at the time that firefighters looked for gasoline can while they cleared the debris but could not find one. Still, arson was suspected.
For 33 years the case has remained cold.
Davenport police said that no detail is too small and that anyone who remembers anything about this case can call the Davenport Police Department at 563-326-6125 or leave an anonymous tip on the city’s mobile apps “CityConnect Davenport, IA” or CrimeReports by Motorola.”