Two Charged With Murder In Bahamas Boat Trip



Guillermo Zarabozo, 20, of Hialeah, left in a 2005 picture, and Kirby Archer, 35, of Arkansas, right, are charged with first-degree murder in the disappearance of four Miami Beach charter crew members that headed for Bimini.


Hardbeatnews, MIAMI, Fl, Thurs. Oct. 11, 2007: Two men were yesterday slapped with murder charges in the disappearance case of four crew members from a sport-fishing boat near the Bahamas.

Federal prosecutors charged Kirby Logan Archer, 35, and Guillermo Zarabozo, 20, with murder in the first-degree of the captain and three crew members of the Joe Cool fishing boat they hired for a trip to the Bahamas.

The two are accused of killing the boat’s captain, Jake Branam, 27; his wife, Kelley Branam, 30; his half-brother Scott Gamble, 30; and Samuel Kairy, 27 on September 22, 2007.

Prosecutors claim that Archer and Zarabozo chartered the fishing vessel at the Miami Beach Marina for a trip to Bimini on September 22, 2007 and paid $4,000 in cash for this voyage. They apparently claimed to be going to Bimini to meet their girlfriends on a yacht at the Big Game Resort and Yacht Club in Bimini. The boat left for Bimini on September 22, with the captain, his wife, and two crewmen.


On September 23, 2007, the United States Coast Guard found the Joe Cool adrift approximately 30 nautical miles away from Cuba. On September 24, 2007, the Coast Guard found the defendants in a life raft, but could not find the bodies of the captain, his wife, or the two crewmen.


When rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, the defendants allegedly stated that they had been on their way to meet their girlfriends on a yacht docked in Bimini when the Joe Cool had been overtaken by three pirate-hijackers. The defendants claimed that these three pirate-hijackers killed the crew, caused their bodies to be thrown overboard, commandeered the vessel and steered it south for several hours.


According to the defendants, when the Joe Cool ran out of fuel, a third boat eventually picked up the pirate-hijackers, who then allegedly left the defendants alone and unharmed aboard the Joe Cool.

Prosecutors, however, say the statements made by the defendants to federal agents investigating the matter are inconsistent. And that forensic analysis link the two to the crime.

Still prosecutors have no bodies, no murder weapon, no witnesses and no confession. But R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, insisted at a news conference, “We shouldn’t shy away from a case simply because it isn’t an easy one. These four individuals were doing what they loved. They were out on the seas, on a boat, and they were murdered in cold blood.”

Both men could get the death penalty or life in prison if convicted. The defendants are expected to make their initial appearances in federal court today Thursday, October 11 at 1:30 p.m