Published September 26, 2007
MIAMI – Two men who had been plucked from a life raft near Cuba were charged Tuesday after the boat they had rented was found adrift in the Bahamas, its four crew members missing.
Kirby Logan Archer, 35, who is wanted in a robbery case in Arkansas, was charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said. Guillermo Zarabozo, 19, was charged with making a false statement to a federal agent, she said.
Both were being held in the federal detention center in Miami for a court appearance Wednesday, she said.
Logan, of Strawberry, Ark., and Zarabozo, of Hialeah, were found in good condition Monday morning on a raft in the Florida Straits. Orihuela said they were questioned about what happened on the 47-foot sport fishing yacht "Joe Cool," which was found Sunday afternoon near the Cay Sal Bank in the Bahamas with no one on board.
The two men had paid the crew of the Miami Beach charter boat $4,000 to taken them to Bimini, Bahamas, where they said girls were waiting for them, authorities said.
Halfway through the trip, the boat turned south. "That leads us to believe that something happened at that time," Coast Guard Petty Officer James Judge said.
A search was being conducted Tuesday from just north of Cuba to the Bahamas and South Florida for the captain, Jake Branam, 27; his wife Kelley Branam; his half brother, Scott Campbell, 30; and Samuel Kairy, 27, all of Miami Beach, authorities said.
Jeff Branam, the boat captain's uncle, told The Miami Herald the boat crew may have been forced overboard or worse.
"Now, the best-case scenario is if they gave my nephew and the others onboard life jackets and told them to swim for it," he said.
Archer is accused of stealing $92,620 in cash from a Wal-Mart in Batesville, Ark., where he had worked as an assistant manager, authorities said. The cash was reported missing shortly after Archer left work Jan. 26, according to a police wanted poster.
Independence County, Ark., Sheriff Keith Bowers said the assistant manager was brazen in getting the money out of the store, putting it in an empty microwave box.
"He put the money in the box and went to the front acting like he was paying for a microwave and even used his employee discount," Bowers said.