Kelly Branam and Jake Branam were killed aboard the Joe Cool boat, along with two others more than a decade ago. Their killers Kirby Logan Archer, 35, and his gullible friend Guillermo Zarabozo, 26, will be the featured story on ID’s Dark Waters Murder In The Deep: “Hijacked.” Records show that Kirby and Guillermo, two fake CIA agents, hijacked the Branam’s boat and shot them to death before dumping their bodies overboard. The other two victims cited in documents were expert fishermen Scott Gamble and Samuel Kairy. Kirby Logan Archer is housed at the Lewisburg USP in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and Guillermo Zarabozo is at the Coleman II USP prison facility in Sumterville, Florida.
Dark Waters Murder In The Deep episode “Hijacked” on the ID Network
Captain Jake’s new charter boat business keeps him away at sea for hours every day, leaving his wife lonely at home. To ease her suspicions, Kelly accompanies her handsome hubby on what turns out to be a fatal voyage.
Entire Boat Crew Vanishes: Miami, Florida September 2007
When Jake Branam found out that his partner booked a charter trip for $4,000 to Bimini aboard their 47-foot yacht, Joe Cool, he was pleased. But his contentment turned to deep concern when he got a glimpse of Kirby Logan Archer and Guillermo Zarabozo, two shady guys with no identification.
His uncle had made the deal. But from the start, Jake had a bad feeling about it. He was so concerned he called his friend, Maria, to see what she thought. Maria advised Jake Branam the details sounded sketchy and that he shouldn’t go.
Against his better judgment, Jake Branam cranked up the boat and headed to the Bahamas. His wife, Kelley Branam, usually stayed at their Star Island cottage with her children. But lately, she had complained of loneliness, and she was starting to wonder if Jake had another woman. To spend more time with him, Kelly decided to make arrangements for the kids to stay behind while she headed out to sea with Jake.
It was a desperate move. Kelly Branam wanted to fix her marriage and live the perfect dream. Jake Branam wanted that as well, and spending balmy afternoons on the beautiful waters while providing a nice life for his family was important, according to the Riverfront Times.
Jake had longish curly hair that was bleached blond by the sun. There was usually a few days’ stubble on his chin. He was tan because he often fished. Jake was 23, three years younger than Kelley, but she loved hearing his stories of sailing around the Caribbean and reeling in big catches. Kelley envisioned herself onboard with Jake, diving into the blue water or angling for tarpon.
Sadly, their lives weren’t perfect. And after they set sail, Kelly and Jake Branam were never seen or heard from again. What they didn’t know was Kirby Logan Archer was a thief from Strawberry, Arkansas, who had just stolen $100,000 in cash from Walmart. And his next plan was to kill Kelly and Jake and take the Joe Cool boat to Cuba to fulfill the “Cuba Idea” mission. Archer had convinced his younger friend, Guillermo Zarabozo, that they were performing a dangerous and secret government assignment for the CIA.
The Cuban trip was ruined after the boat ran out of fuel. Kirby Logan Archer and Guillermo Zarabozo were found drifting in a small raft. They told U.S. Coast Guard crews Cuban pirates hijacked their boat. A while later, police found the Joe Cool floating in the Florida Straits. No bodies were on board, only blood and bullet casings.
- Kirby Logan Archer’s wife said her husband left months earlier. She knew about the Walmart accusations but had no idea he was aboard a boat and had killed innocent people.
Guillermo Zarabozo and Kirby Logan Archer are serving concurrent life sentences for the four killings. Guillermo Zarabozo hopes he’ll eventually be found innocent since he believed he was helping the government.