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Dead Calm, for Real

In September 2007, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter rescued Kirby Archer and Guillermo Zarabozo from a life raft drifting near the coast of Cuba. The two wove an unbelievable tale about pirates attacking their boat and murdering the captain, his wife, and two crew members before ditching their bodies overboard. It was called the “ghost boat” case, and without the four victims’ bodies, investigators had scant evidence. But Archer and Zarabozo’s yarn began to unravel when dogged prosecutors punched holes in the pair’s story. Here’s what really went down: They chartered the Joe Cool from the Miami Beach Marina for a quick trip to Bimini. While en route, Archer — who had stolen $92,000 from his employer and was wanted for sexually abusing a minor — and his teenage accomplice Zarabozo shot and killed Jake Branam, his wife Kelley, and two others. When the Coast Guard picked them up, they were headed to Cuba hoping to find refuge. After nearly three years in the courts, Archer and Zarabozo were eventually found guilty and received multiple life sentences. This Monday at 8 p.m., catch Carol Soret Cope at Books & Books, where she will read excerpts from and sign copies of Murder on the High Seas: The True Story of the Joe Cool’s Tragic Final Voyage. The Miami attorney and crime author takes readers through the tangled web of one of the strangest cases in the Magic City’s lurid crime history. Admission is free.
Mon., April 18, 8 p.m., 2011


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