It’s Freaky Friday, and we’re due to talk about true crime. Bizarre crimes fascinate the public. Books get written about them. Documentaries are made. Movies sensationalize the details and give the involved parties beauty makeovers.
Today, we’re going to talk about the 1993 murder of Bobby Kent. It has had the full Hollywood treatment for a reason. The crime was brutal. The murderers weren’t much more than kids. The reason they did it was oddly believable…though not necessarily justifiable.
Bobby Kent was twenty years old in 1993. He lived in Hollywood, Florida. Bobby was athletic and charming. His parents were successful and had plans to help Bobby achieve success once he graduated college.
It all ended for him one hot Florida night. Seven kids bludgeoned and stabbed Bobby Kent to death July 15, 1993. They dumped his body in the swamp.
The kicker? Bobby Kent was not murdered by strangers. He was murdered by kids he knew. One of them was his childhood best friend. Another was an ex-girlfriend.
The murderers became known as the Broward County Seven. Because so many people were involved, here’s the cast list for the Broward County Seven:
- Martin “Marty” Puccio — Bobby Kent’s best friend since childhood. Lisa Connelly’s boyfriend.
- Lisa Connelly DOB — Marty’s girlfriend. Claimed Bobby was physically abusive to Marty. He was also verbally abusive to Connelly, making references to her weight.
- Ali Willis — Lisa’s best friend. Bobby’s ex-girlfriend.
- Donny Semenec — Ali’s boyfriend at the time of the murder. Supposedly got involved in the murder because Bobby raped Ali.
- Derek Kaufman — Self-proclaimed mafia hitman. Didn’t know anybody in the group prior to the murder.
- Derek Dzvirko — Lisa Connelly’s cousin. He participated in the murder at Lisa’s request.
- Heather Swallers — A friend of Ali Willis who got caught up in the murder.
These seven people armed themselves with a lead pipe, two knives, and a baseball bat. They lured Bobby to a remote lake near Weston. Bobby believed he might have sex with Ali Willis, an ex-girlfriend.
The Broward Seven had different plans for Bobby Kent. Donny Semenec stabbed Bobby in the neck with a knife. Bobby begged Marty, his friend, to help him.
Marty stabbed Bobby in the stomach and slit his throat twice. Derek Kaufman hit Bobby in the head with a baseball bat, which was the final blow. Derek Dzvirko helped dump the body.
Heather Swallers was Ali Willis’s friend. She didn’t know much about Bobby Kent, Marty Puccio, or Lisa Connelly prior to a few days before the murder. When the murder started, she ran and hid in Ali Willis’s car.
Their motive? Bobby was a bully.
Was Bobby a bully? Mr. and Mrs. Puccio–Marty’s parents–claimed their son often came home bruised and bleeding after being with Bobby. There were also claims that Bobby used steroids, which can cause physical aggression.
One of the prosecutors at the murder trial compared Bobby Kent to the fictional character Eddie Haskell. In front of parents, Bobby put forth one persona. In front of other kids, it was a whole different story.
Another theory is that Bobby and Marty were involved in gang activity and that the Bobby’s murder was gang related. This website goes into more detail on that theory.
Gang activity or no, Bobby Kent and Marty Puccio were definitely up to some odd stuff…including making homosexual porn movies. They convinced a local man named Harry Suiter to perform in their production, which was called Rough Boys. Due to the content, none of the local porn shops were interested.
[The content of Rough Boys consisted of Mr. Suiter dancing naked and playing with a dildo.]
The following is the most commonly believed theory about the murder.
Marty’s girlfriend, Lisa Connelly, was pregnant with Marty’s child. She didn’t like how much time the father of her unborn child spent with his good buddy Bobby Kent. She talked her best friend Ali Willis (AKA Alice Slay) into going out with Bobby. Ali claimed Kent was abusive to her and cut off the relationship.
At this point, Lisa Connelly instigated discussions about getting rid of Bobby Kent permanently. On July 13, 1993, Ali Willis brought her boyfriend Donny Semenec and her friend Heather Swallers to talk with Lisa about killing Bobby.
Lisa contacted Derek Kaufman and asked him to get her a gun. He was unable to get a gun that fast, so the plan with the lead pipe, the knives, and the baseball bat formed.
The night of the murder, the Broward County Seven met in the alley behind Marty’s home. Marty wore a black trench coat over a white T-shirt and black jeans. He had a red bandana tied Ninja-style around his head.
On July 15, 1993, in the wee hours of the morning, the plan was carried out. Bobby was murdered, and Broward County Seven was born.
- Marty Puccio was convicted of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. He was sentenced to the death penalty. In 1997, through appeals, his sentence was lowered to life in prison.
- Lisa Connelly was convicted of second degree murder and conspiracy. She was sentenced to life and five years imprisonment. This sentence was appealed and reduced to twenty-two years. She was released on parole in 2004.
- Ali Willis (AKA Alice Slay) was convicted of second degree murder and conspiracy. She was sentenced to forty years in prison. Her sentence was appealed and reduced to seventeen years in prison. She was released in 2001 and is on community supervision for forty years.
- Donny Semenec was convicted of second degree murder and conspiracy. He was sentenced to life and fifteen years imprisonment.
- Derek Kaufman was convicted of first degree murder and conspiracy. He was sentenced to life and thirty years imprisonment.
- Derek Dzvirko testified in exchange for a plea bargain. He was convicted of second degree murder and conspiracy. Dzvirko was sentenced to eleven years imprisonment. He was released in 1999.
- Heather Swallers testified in exchange for a reduced sentence. She was convicted of second degree murder and conspiracy. Ms. Swallers was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. She was released in 1998.
It didn’t take long for the entertainment industry to embrace the story. Jim Schutze wrote a book about Bobby’s murder in 1998.
2001 was a big year for the Bobby Kent story. A & E made a documentary called Payback for a Bully. The inimitable Larry Clark made a feature film about the crime called Bully. It starred Brad Renfo, Nick Stahl, Bijou Philips, and Rachel Miner.
Not long after I wrote this post, the real Ali Willis replied with this:
You are all way off on the truth. Dont believe whatever you read. Ali
I like to make these blogs as informative and truthful as I am able. Thus, I emailed Ali–who was very nice. Much of her dispute dealt with the movie–and probably the book, too, as they are very similar. Hence, the placement of this update.
Ali said that the drug use portrayed in the movie was exaggerated. There was never a glovebox full of LSD in her car. The night of the murder, nobody was intoxicated.
The Hollywood version of Ali Willis was a promiscuous young woman. Ali says that was not the case at all. She was married to her first child’s father–he was not a one night stand–and they were divorced at the time of the murder.
Ali said she and Lisa Connelly most certainly did not meet Marty and Bobby at a deli and then go do drugs and have sex with them. Marty and Lisa had been dating for about a year when Lisa introduced Ali to Bobby.
Ali has moved on with her life and has been married to the same man for the past ten years. They have three children. She seems to be doing very well. I thank her for sharing her experiences with me.
Watch the trailer:
Eighteen years after Bobby Kent’s murder, Ali Willis spoke out about her part in the murder. Click here to check it out. This is worth the click. There’s a video and everything.