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Ghost Boat: Fourth bullet casing found

A yacht at the center of a suspected quadruple slaying on the high seas has yielded one more surprising piece of evidence — another bullet casing hidden under a cabin couch.

The 9mm shell, the fourth collected from the Joe Cool, a charter boat found abandoned in the Florida Straits near Cuba on Sept. 23, came to light Wednesday night as FBI investigators were releasing the boat to relatives of three of the boat’s four missing crew members.joecool5.jpg

”Four people, four casings. What can you say?” said a somber Jeff Branam, uncle of Jake Branam, 27, who is presumed dead along with his wife, Kelley Branam, 30; Branam’s half-brother, Scott Gamble, 35; and first mate Samuel Kairy, 27, all Miami Beach residents.

Last week, federal prosecutors formally named two men who had chartered the boat to Bimini as suspects in the crew’s deaths. Murder charges could come as early as next week before the pair are arraigned on Thursday.

It’s unclear why the shell was missed during previous sweeps, FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said Thursday. ”The casing was found underneath a couch when they tried to get to an engine on the boat,” she said.

It was apparently inaccessible until the cabin sofa was moved to get to a hatch to start the boat’s diesel engines. An FBI agent on board took the casing, she said.

Family members and friends also were preparing for a water-borne memorial service at 10 a.m. Saturday on Norris Cut between Fisher Island and Virginia Key. The plan is for a procession of boats to motor through the Port of Miami and past the Miami Beach Marina, where the 47-foot sportfishing boat had been docked.

The Joe Cool won’t be in the procession. The family intends to retire the name, which was a tribute to Jake Branam’s father, Joseph Branam Jr., who died of a heart attack at 52 last year.

Source: MH

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