Bobby Kent (May 12, 1973 – July 15, 1993)
Murder Of Robert ‘Bobby’ Kent
Bobby Kent had met Martin “Marty” Puccio in the third grade and instantly they became great pals. They lived close to one another and were always together at each others houses or riding bikes, etc. Soon it went from building ‘forts’ to liking girls and that’s when resentment, jealousy and hatred grew.
Toward the beginning of 1993 Martin (Marty) Puccio (aged 20) began dating Lisa Connelly (aged 18).
Being frustrated by how much time her boyfriend spent with Bobby, Lisa tried to distract him from Marty by setting up her friend Alice (Ali) Willis (aged 17) with Kent. They dated a few weeks but Bobby was abusive toward Ali so Ali so she cut off the relationship. In June, Marty confided to Lisa that Bobby had been abusive to him quite often over the years. Lisa tried to convince him to cut off his friendship, but Marty did not seem able to do that. By that time, Lisa knew she was pregnant by Marty and was determined that Bobby was not going to get in her way of a permanent relationship with Marty. Although Lisa admitted to having sex with Bobby as well as Marty, she maintained the baby was Marty’s. This baby, now a teenager, had a DNA test performed and discovered that she is in fact Bobby’s daughter. It is unknown if he fathered any other children before his death.
According to sources, for a few weeks prior to his murder, Bobby dated Ali and when she moved back with her parents in Palm Bay, Florida, and broke up with him, Kent said he was going to murder her and smother her baby unless she returned to Broward County to date him.
Lisa’s hatred for Bobby grew for a number a reasons including him beating and bullying Marty as well as raping Ali, her bestfriend. Bobby was also known to commonly refer to Lisa, who was overweight, as “fatass”, “tatonka”, “potlock” “chub” and “Shamu”, often encouraging and/or forcing Marty to do the same.
Allegedly, Lisa decided that Bobby needed to be eliminated permanently and started talking to Marty and other friends about murdering him. On Tuesday, July 13, 1993, Lisa called Ali and told her that “Bobby was planning to come to Palm Bay (where Ali was living) to murder her and smother her baby (by a previous relationship) unless she returned to Broward County to date him again.” Ali claimed Lisa asked her to come to her house to discuss murdering Bobby Kent. Ali went to Lisa’s house and brought two friends, her current boyfriend, Donald (Donny) Semenec (aged 17), and Heather Swallers (aged 18). Lisa had previously contacted a self-proclaimed “hit man,” named Derek Kaufman, who had been recommended by some friends. When Ali, Donny and Heather arrived, they all went to Kaufman’s home. They told him they wanted him to get a gun so they could kill Kent that night, but Kaufman told them he could not get a gun that fast. The four went back to Lisa’s house and were joined by Lisa’s cousin, Derek Dzvirko. Puccio apparently was not a part of these meetings on the 13th.
On July 14 around 11:30p.m. the six joined together at Marty’s house and discussed their plans and their roles. They had a lead pipe, two knives and a baseball bat. Marty had asked Bobby Kent to join them around 11:45pm. Marty told him that Ali was going to be there as well. Apparently Kent thought he might be able to hook up with his former girlfriend, not realizing that his best friend and ex girlfriend were helping with his murder.
All together the seven headed out to a construction site. As soon as they got there Ali, in accordance with the plan, took Bobby off to a secluded spot where they were talking. Heather Swallers joined them there and while she and Ali distracted Bobby, Donny Semenec came up and stabbed Bobby in the neck with a knife. Bobby yelled out, “Marty, whatever I’ve done to make you mad, I’m sorry.” Then he asked for Marty’s help. Instead Marty stuck a knife in Bobby’s stomach. Derek Kaufman then approached and hit Bobby with the baseball bat, which was the final blow. After this was all done Derek Dzvirko helped dump the body. Lisa was not involved in the actual murder.
Willis was going to walk Bobby down to the water at Palm Bay, pretending to mend their ‘relationship.’ And Swallers was going to go down to Willis and Kent and talk about the crocodiles, which was the ”code word”
MUGSHOT: Martin Joseph Puccio, Jr. also known as “Marty” is now 39
Martin Puccio was convicted and sentenced to death but that sentence was reduced in 1997 to life in prison.
Donny Semenec was given a life sentence, and Derek Kaufman was given life plus 30 years. Lisa was convicted and given life in prison but that sentence was reduced to 22 years. She gave birth to her and Kent’s child during her incarceration. She was released in 2004. Alice Willis was convicted and given a 17 year sentence. She was released in 2001. Derek Dzvirko served 6 years in state prison. Heather Swallers served 5 years and was released on parole in 1998.
Derek Kaufman, now 39, self-proclaimed “mafia leader and hitman”
Derek Dzvirko, now 40, cousin of Lisa Connelly
Lisa Connelly who is now 37 – Connelly was arrested in 2007 for a traffic violation which can be seen at Florida Arrests
Donny Semenec (now 39)
Heather Swallers (now 37)
Martin Joseph (Marty) Puccio – March 21, 1973 – Bobby’s best friend since childhood, boyfriend of Lisa Connelly.
Lisa Marie Connelly – July 31, 1974 – Marty’s girlfriend. Was angry at Kent for beating and bullying Marty as well as allegedly raping her best friend, Alice Slay. Kent was also known to commonly refer to Connelly (who was overweight) as “fatass”, “tatonka”, “potlock” “chub” and “Shamu”, often encouraging and/or forcing Puccio to do the same. On January 5, 1994 Lisa Connelly, who was Puccio’s girlfriend, gave birth to their daughter. She is in the custody of Connelly’s parents in Central Florida.
Alice Jean Slay (Ali Willis) – August 29, 1975 – Kent’s former girlfriend, set up with Kent by Connelly in the hopes that if he was with her, he’d leave Puccio alone. Allegedly involved in a teenage prostitution ring prior to Kent’s murder.
Donald Roth (Donny) Semenec Jr. – July 15, 1975 – Slay’s boyfriend at the time of the murder. Habitual drug user. Supposedly helped in the murder because he was angry at Kent for raping his girlfriend. Struck the first blow on Kent. Murder occurred on his 18th birthday.
Derek Leon Kaufman – May 8, 1973 – Self-proclaimed mafia hitman who the group enlisted to plan Kent’s murder. Had no association to any of the other conspirators prior to this. Was actually the leader of a gang of youths 7-10 years younger than he was, who committed petty crimes such as theft.
Derek George Dzvirko – November 2, 1973 – Connelly’s cousin who was enlisted for extra help by Connelly. Played a minor role in the murder, borrowed one of the baseball bats used to kill Kent from a friend. Along with Swallers, was offered and accepted a plea bargain in exchange for testimony that would help convict others in the group. The two were originally promised the same prison sentence, however Dzvirko got four extra years for attempting to lie on the witness stand.
Heather June Swallers – May 24, 1975 – Previous friend of Slay who had just gotten out of drug rehab. The member of the group deemed by the State of Florida to be the least culpable for Kent’s murder. Had no participation in the murder itself and ran and hid in Slay’s car once it started. Cut the same plea bargain as Dzvirko did and got the promised sentence because unlike him, she did not lie during her testimony.
The co-perpetrators were convicted and sentenced as follows:
Heather Swallers – second-degree murder and conspiracy (seven years imprisonment); Released February 14, 1998
Derek Dzvirko – second-degree murder and conspiracy (11 years imprisonment) Released October 1, 1999
Alice Willis – second-degree murder and conspiracy (40 years imprisonment, which was commuted on appeal to 17 years in prison. She was released on parole on September 16, 2001 and is currently under community supervision for 40 years)
Donald Semenec (aka Day) – second-degree murder and conspiracy (life and 15 years imprisonment) He is incarcerated at Columbia Annex DC number 963020
Derek Kaufman – first-degree murder and conspiracy (the jury recommended life and he was sentenced to life and 30 years imprisonment) He is incarcerated at Mayo/C.I. DC number 894391
Lisa Connelly – second-degree murder and conspiracy (life and five years imprisonment, which was reversed on appeal and reduced to 22 years; she was released on parole on February 3, 2004).
Martin Puccio – first-degree murder and conspiracy. He is incarcerated at Desoto Annex DC number 963022.
* Alice Willis, after serving her time for being 1 of the 7 involved in Bobby Kent’s Murder had finally decided to an interview, 18 years later.*
Left: Police Photo Of Ali Willis In 1993 (17)
Right: Photo of Ali Willis at 35
Today she is a 35-year-old stay-at-home mother of four. Ali Willis was 17 when she helped plan the stabbing and beating death of her ex-boyfriend. Willis said she was brought into the mix by her best friend, Lisa Connelly. Connelly was pregnant with the child of Kent’s best friend Marty Puccio. In 1993, Puccio said he felt he’d “been pushed around” too much by Kent, claiming he was a bully.
Not too long after Willis met Kent, Puccio and Connelly started plotting murder. Broward County detectives said Lisa Connelly called her friend Willis to help in their plot and the group grew from there.
Detective Frank Ilarraza with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office worked on the case. “Ali requested others to come along and do it,” Detective Ilarraza said. “It’s like it didn’t faze her. They had total disregard for human life.”
But Willis said she thought she was just visiting friends. Her new boyfriend Donny Semenec and friend Heather Swallers came along. Lisa Connelly ‘s cousin, Derek Dzvirko, and a self-proclaimed hitman Derek Kaufman were also involved. “Somebody said, ‘Oh, why don’t you just kill him.’ You know, a flipping off the wall joke,” Willis told NBC Miami.
Detectives said their original plan was Willis would meet Bobby Kent at a construction site in Weston and shoot him.
“I never had a gun,” Willis said. “Lisa did have a gun on her. The gun was just there.”
The next night, the “Broward Seven” as they became known, tricked Kent into coming back to the construction site in Weston. He thought they were drag racing, and Willis said she thought she was there to witness a fight, not murder. “I got beat by that man,” Willis said. “So yeah, I wanted to see him get beat up. I wanted him to know how it feels.”
What happened that night was made into a movie called “Bully” and Willis said the murder scene portrayed in it is accurate. Willis acted as bait, leading Kent into a trap. It all started with Willis’ new boyfriend, Donny Semenec, stabbing Kent in the neck.
Actor Nick Stahl (left) played the part of Bobby Kent, portrayed as the ”bully” who was constantly abusing, degrading and teasing Marty Puccino (played by actor Brad Renfro, right, who died in 2008 in a drug overdose.) Renfro was portrayed as a ‘victim’ of Bobby Kent. A friend who secretly harbored a resentful hatred for his supposed ‘best friend’
“What I remember after that was he screaming at Marty, Bobby’s yelling at Marty: ‘Get him, get him. Do something, do something. He hit me, he hit me,'” Willis said. “I remember standing there, and I seen Marty go like this. To me, it looked like he hauled off and hit him. I’ll never forget the look on his face when this happened. I looked down and there was blood everywhere … and he was holding his stomach … and I just froze.”Marty Puccio stabbed Kent multiple times and slit his throat twice. Finally, Derek Kaufman, who didn’t even know Kent, went after him with a baseball bat.
The lead detective at the time, Ilarraza said in his 30 years on the job, it is the most shocking case he has ever worked. “This was very personal,” Ilarraza said. “They got right on him – where you could smell him, where you could hear him breathing – and that’s when they savagely killed him.”
Four days later, Lisa Connelly’s cousin Derek Dzvirko confessed, leading police to Kent’s body.
“As soon as I got out of the car, you could smell the decomposing body,” Ilarraza said.
After her son’s murder, Farah Kent told NBC Miami, she thought Willis was the mastermind, a lover scorned. “He didn’t want to see her anymore,” Kent said. “That’s why I think the whole thing happened.”
But in court, it was proven that it was Kent’s best friend Marty Puccio, and his girlfriend Lisa Connelly behind the murder plan, but all seven helped carry it out.
In 1993, a detective said, “If one of these people simply said, ‘No. This is wrong,’ I think the whole group would’ve backed off their plans.”
Willis told NBC Miami, she doesn’t know why she didn’t say anything to stop it. “It was fear, but it was almost like being in a trance,” Willis said.
Marty Puccio, Donny Semenec and Derek Kaufman were all sentenced to life in prison. The four who were part of the planning but did not attack Kent, are now all out of jail.
Willis, originally sentenced to 40 years, served eight.
“I do think I should have gotten some prison time,” Willis said. “I do agree with that totally, but I don’t believe I got off easy.” “It was a big deal, but I didn’t kill him … I honestly didn’t believe that he would end up dead. How can you feel remorse for something you didn’t do?”
But being a mom, Willis said she does feel sorry for Kent’s parents. “I would tell them I’m sorry I was there, I’m sorry I never said anything,” she said. “I am sorry I didn’t try to stop it. I am sorry I didn’t say something.”
Willis was the only one of the Broward Seen who agreed to an interview. She said she does not keep in touch with any of the others.
Kent’s parents still live in Broward County. They declined an interview saying it’s been 18 years and they are ready to put their son’s murder behind them.
The murder of Bobby Kent resulted in a best-selling true crime book in 1998, Bully: A True Story of High School Revenge (ISBN 0-380-72333-6), written by Jim Schutze. The book was adapted by Zachary Long (a pseudonym used by David McKenna after he demanded his name be removed from the film and Roger Pullis into the 2001 film, Bully, directed by Larry Clark. The story was also covered during an episode of the A&E series American Justice.
In the film, Puccio was portrayed by Brad Renfro, Kent was portrayed by Nick Stahl, Willis was portrayed by Bijou Phillips, Connelly was portrayed by Rachel Miner, Semenec was portrayed by Michael Pitt, Swallers was portrayed by Kelli Garner, Dzvirko was portrayed by Daniel Franzese, and Kaufman was portrayed by Leo Fitzpatrick.