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Ghost Boat: Parents of Supsect Fear Worst

since Kirby Archer was plucked from a raft and plunged into suspicion over the disappearance of four South Florida boaters, his parents have followed a grim, unceasing routine.Betty and Sam Archer watch CNN, waiting for the latest update on their son’s troubles. They read the articles posted online, the ones followed by readers’ comments like ”Hang him” and ”Make him walk the plank.” They pray.

356-10207archerembeddedprod_affiliate56.jpg”About all we’ve done for the last week is cry and walk the floor,” said Betty Archer, 67, speaking from the living room of the couple’s apartment, half of a modest, one-story white house in this small northern Arkansas town.

The Archers and other relatives have kept a vigil of incessantly lit cigarettes and bottomless cups of coffee as they agonize over Kirby Archer’s fate.

Archer, 35, has been wanted in Arkansas since January on charges he stole $92,000 from the Wal-Mart where he worked as an assistant manager. On Sept. 22, he paid $4,000 in cash to charter the 47-foot Joe Cool sportfishing boat to take him and 19-year-old Hialeah security guard Guillermo Zarabozo to Bimini, Bahamas. Two days later, the Coast Guard found Archer and Zarabozo floating on a life raft a few miles away from the empty boat.

The Joe Cool’s South Florida owners and crew — captain Jake Branam, 27; his wife, Kelley Branam, 30; Branam’s half-brother Scott Gamble, 35; and first mate Samuel Kairy, 27 — are still missing since a Coast Guard search was called off after five days.joecool1.jpg

Federal authorities have charged Archer with unlawful flight and Zarabozo with making a false statement to a federal agent. Archer and Zarabozo, being held in Miami, are scheduled to appear for a bail hearing in federal court this morning. Prosecutors are asking that both be denied bail.

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