A Friend To Die For

kirsten-costasLeft; Kirsten M. Costas as a child and right photo shows her as a teenager (right)

Kirsten Costas was a 15-year-old Freshman who attended Miramonte Highschool in Orinda in Northern California.  She was a petite, wavy-haired brunette who was described as popular among her peers. Outgoing, witty, sarcastic and confident are just a few charactor-traits that describe  her. She had a good home life and was the oldest of two children. She enjoyed going to school and excelled in many different things including being a member of the varsity swim team, cheerleader, she worked in the student office and was a member of the “Bobbies”, a sorority that female students attempted to be part of but only a small chosen few achieved.

bernadette-protti-school-photo

Freshman class photo of Bernadette Protti (She looks fairly decent in this photo but the photos below in this story will show her looks were often unappealing.)

Bernadette Protti, then 16, was also a student who attended Miramonte High School. She was described as a quiet “bookworm” who studied and received good grades, and someone who had alot of potential when it came to education. She was respectful to teachers and always got her school work done, attended church, arrived to class each day on time, had a good family upbringing. Your typical good teenager who didn’t rebel.

However, from a students point of view Bernadette was kind but a bit of a follower. Every teenager wishes they were ‘popular’ but many aren’t and learn to accept it. Bernadette was the few who refused to accept it. She rarely went out on weekends mainly due to the fact that she was never invited to social-outings, which bothered her because she wanted so badly to be socially accepted.

She was a huge wannabe according to students who grew up with her. She was anxious around many of the popular students, almost on the verge of being socially awkward. She had low confidence, was insecure and had fantasies of being popular. even attempting to become a cheerleader which, by the way, she failed to do.

The closest she had to the in-crowd was a childhood friend who she grew up with and attended church with. They drifted apart as they entered middle and high school and the childhood friend was paired with Kirsten Costas and her clique, while Bernadette didn’t really fit-in or have a clique, but she did however, have a friend. They were average students on the social-rank, maybe slightly lower but not the lowest rank. They didn’t really stand out and many didn’t know who they were.

Bernadette had a hidden obsession with Kirsten. Why? because Kristen was everything she wasnt. She described her in court as “being good at everything”. She not only had the grades, she had the popularity, boys, social life, style, personality and confidence. The severity of Bernadette’s obsession to be accepted would become apparent a little later down the road.

Everyone at Miramonte High School knew Kirsten even if they never met her, they knew who she was. Bernadette had a class with Kirsten but was mainly ignored. She was quiet and reserved and the only times she would get up close to the in crowd was when her childhood friend was speaking to her in their presence.

Bernadette knew that being friends with Kirsten was her biggest chance at popularity because she over-shadowed her friends and although she tried on several occasions to make small talk with Kirsten, her efforts were always subtly rejected, rebuffed or quickly forgotten. Kirsten popularity and confidence made her a little high maintenance and somewhat stuck up. She had her friends, she had the boys, she had a good family, she had everything and didn’t have room reserved for someone like Bernadette who, in Kirsten’s eyes, was just a follower lurking in the background.

Bernadette started taking up babysitting and used the money to purchase trendy name-brand clothing. She put a hard effort into her appearance in yet another attempt to impress but her stylish attempts were not recognized and it even backfired on her one time.

kirsten-costas-1981

Full body-shot photo of Kirsten Costas (photo is believed to have been taken during a her highschool ski-trip)

In 1985 students go on a ski-trip vacation. Bernadette was super excited to be spending the weekend sharing a dorm-like room with Kirsten and her friends. Finally she thought, a chance to bond. She went out a purchased what she thought was a stylish ski-outfit. Kirsten didn’t think so and made a snide remark on it, sarcastically asking her if she purchased it at a thrift store, which is a second-hand clothing store that sells outfits at an inexpensive price. The store has a low reputation and many assume that families with low-income go there for deals.

Although she didn’t show it, Bernadette was highly upset at the comment and quietly dwelled on it for several days.

Her efforts persisted however. She was definitely a follower and joined many of the same activities as Kirsten’s clique, including a job at the student office where she worked besides Kirsten. Kirsten would ask her to do ‘favors’ that, if caught, could have made Bernadette lose her office privileges. Bernadette agreed and took the chance in an effort to win her admirer over which never worked. She never gained the respect of Kirsten and started becoming more desperate.

This came after her attempt to join the cheerleading squad, which she didn’t make by the way.

Kirsten apparently never took Bernadette seriously. Bernadette was just a child-friend of one of her friends who followed them when she had the opportunity. She never had to struggle with popularity so she wouldn’t have possibly understood the severity and state-of-mind of someone like Bernadette. I’m sure if she knew what the overly sensitive, high-strung teenager was really capable of, she would have stood clear from the gecko. But she didn’t and had no fear of someone like Bernadette who was just a ‘harmless wannabe’ in her eyes.

One night when Bernadette was hanging with (only) close friend, the friend mentioned a party in which a few older high-school boys were throwing. The friend’s sibling was going so she automatically got an invite and decided to bring Bernadette along for company. Bernadette was thrilled at the idea. She instantly thought of inviting Kirsten to this party. She now had the opportunity to show Kirsten that she was going to be at a party thrown by popular high school boys. She rushed to the phone and called the Costas home and when Mrs. Costas answered she told her that she was a “bobbie”, which is a school sorority in which Kirsten was part of, and that they were throwing her daughter a surprise dinner as part of being a new member of the sorority. Mrs. Costas told the caller that she will inform Kirsten and asked what she should wear in which Bernadette replied, something nice but casual for a night out. She didn’t give Kirsten’s mother her name so Kirsten didn’t know exactly who was going to arrive to pick her up, all she knew was that she had to be ready for 8:30PM.

kirstencostashouse

Photo above of Kirsten Costas home on Orchard Road, and below is her parents, Arthur and Berit Costas.

kirstencostasparents

It’s Saturday evening, June 23, 1984 — Kirsten’s parents and brother had already left to attend a dinner for Peter’s little league team. Kirsten is excited and getting ready for her 8:30PM surprise. She attempts to figure it out beforehand and calls a couple of friends that she believes will give up the secret easily. They, also bobbies, tell her that there is no bobbie surprise and that they didn’t know what she was talking about. She somewhat believed them but thought maybe they were just telling her there was no party to keep the surprise going.

bernadette-protti

Pictured; Bernadette Protti

8:30PM, June 23, 1984 — A car honks its horn outside the Costas residence. Kirsten comes outside to find out who is behind this ‘surprise’ dinner. By this point she’s still curious and still planning on going out. She walks outside, leaving the TV on, to the mustard-colored, less than appealing Pinto and discovers Bernadette behind the wheel. Her excitement turns to amusement. Bernadette isn’t someone she would consider a fun person to spend a weekend night out with. She asks her what’s going on and that there was no bobbie dinner. Bernadette excitedly tells her that she just made it up and that the real surprise is even better. After being asked more than once, Bernadette finally tells her that there’s a party being thrown by (name of students unknown). Kirsten says alright and gets in the car and they drive off.

On their way to the party Kirsten asks Bernadette to pull over in an empty parking lot so she could smoke some weed. She notices a butcher knife and asks Bernadette about it who in return laughs, and tells her that her sister takes it in the car to cut fruits and vegetables. Kirsten thinks nothing of it and instead turns her attention on the party, asking her who was going and how she had gotten invited. When she learned the truth that Bernadette hadn’t exactly been invited she became annoyed and said she was going to walk into a party that she wasn’t invited too. Bernadette tried explaining that it’s ok but kept getting cut off by Kirsten, who told her that she wasn’t going to embarrass herself and to just take her home. Bernadette became desperate and in a loud-tone said “NO, that would spoil everything”, in which Kirsten responded “There was never anything to spoil”.

By this point it was getting close to 9PM. Bernadette was getting increasingly desperate and felt this incident was the final blow to any chances she had at a decent reputation. Her last attempt was to plead with Kirsten. She asked her why she had to be so mean. Kirsten rolled her eyes in response. — She then told Kirsten that all she wants to do is be her friend and how much she admired her and wanted to be like her.

If Bernadette was hoping for sympathy she surely didn’t get it.

Kristen at this point was “weirded out” and told her that she was pathetic and was acting like she was in love with her. When Bernadette tried explaining herself she was called a weirdo.

By this point Kirsten was out of Bernadette’s vehicle and fled to the nearest house, knocked on the door and was met by an older couple, Alex and Mary Jane Arnold. She asked if she could use their phone to call for a ride. She explained to them, while pointing to Bernadette’s car in the distance, had “gone weird” on her.

Bernadette was bawling, she knew she blew it and her already rocky reputation was going to be tarnished forever. She was frantic and knew Kirsten was going to make her the butt of the joke at school. She felt that she was going to be the laughing-stock and needed to silence Kirsten before she could ruin her name even more.

When Kirsten could not reach her parents by telephone Alex Arnold offered to drive her home.  On the ride to drop her off he noticed the pinto following them and asked Kirsten if everything was okay with her and her friend, to which Kirsten replied “Yeah, she’s just a little weird”.

Kirsten was supposedly calm during the ride and talked about school and activities. They pulled up to her home on Orchard Road and she stepped out of the car, thanking Mr. Arnold.

She made it to the front door, which was locked, and knocked. That’s when she noticed Bernadette walking towards her fast, yet silent. Bernadette muttered the words “I would have taken you home” too which Kirsten replied, in a loud tone, “Go Away! You are so weird” — Without warning, Bernadette started stabbing her. Kirsten screamed and Bernadette ran off.

Arnold, sitting in his car, witnessed the incident which he thought was a fist fight. He attempted to follow Bernadette’s car but by this point she was long gone. She had fled after the fifth stab. Kirsten neighbor’s heard her screams and came out and noticed her lying on the ground. They called police and comforted the dying teenager until the ambulance came.

Neighbors heard Kirsten’s screams and noticed her lying down in blood. The ambulance was called and she was comforted. She is reported to have struggled, saying “I can’t breathe”, followed by a gurgling noises. She was choking on her own blood and was mortally wounded.

The ambulance raced her to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead. A stab wound had gone through a major artery.

She was just one month short of her 16 birthday.

kirsten_costas

Everyone was shocked and hundreds attended her funeral, including Bernadette who was seen by witnesses crying.

Investigators were at Miramonte High School the upcoming week, questioningg students and having many taking lie detector tests. Bernadette was one of the chosen ones who took the test. It came back inconclusive which didn’t point to guilt, but didn’t point to innocence either. She was asked where she was on the night of the murder. Her (fake) alibi went unverified and Kirsten’s murder went unsolved for six months.

Rumors and theories quickly spread threw-out school. Students were pointing fingers, but none pointing to Bernadette, the quiet wannabe who secretly idolized Kristen.

Many students harassed a girl who they believed was responsible for Kirsten’s murder. The student was labelled a ‘goth’ and Kirsten use to pick on her, so many assumed she freaked and murdered her in revenge.

The next half a year Bernadette lived her outward appearance as normal as possible, but inside she was holding a deep dark secret which gave her overwhelming guilt.

Six months later Investigators went over all their evidence, they finally had a person-of-interest. Bernadette Protti.

The real Angela Delvecchio

Photo to the left is Bernadette in Court during her trail – Right photo is a school photo

After attempting to confirm her alibi and rereading her lie detector test, investigators realized they had no evidence so they decided to give Bernadette another lie-detector-test which proved, in their mind, her guilt. The test showed some lies and some inconclusive. They interrogated Protti in an attempt to gain a confession.. After speaking with a FBI officer.Protti wrote her mother a letter in which she made a full confession.

Bernadette claimed to have found the kitchen knife by chance, and her elder sister Gina testified in court that she used to have that knife in her car to cut her vegetables. The Costa’s did not believe her story – they claimed that nobody would use an 18-inch-long knife to slice tomatoes and that Protti, casually dressed on that evening, never intended to take Kirsten to a party, but had planned to murder her.

Bernadette Protti was sentenced to a maximum of 9-years, but was released 7-years later on parole. She was released from prison in 1992 at the age of 23 she left Ventura County. She changed her name, got married (name change again after marriage). And I believe had children, not sure how many to be exact.

 The Costas left Orinda and moved to Hawaii. They did state that they didn’t agree with Bernadette’s release and were disappointed with the Justice System.

kirstencostas

Kirsten Marina Costas (July 23, 1968 – June 23, 1984)

Left; Tori-Spelling played ”Stacey Lockwood” who depicted Kristen Costa, Right; Kellie-Martin played ”Angela ”Angie” Delvecchio.”

This murder-case attracted alot of attention, and in 1994, the case was made into a life-time movie called ”A friend to die for”, or the UK title, ”Death of a cheerleader”.  In the movie, the story is told from Bernadette’s point of view, she is portrayed as the real victim who killed her classmate, while Kirsten Costas is portrayed as a mean-spirited bully, constantly teasing girls who were ‘socially below her.’.

A friend to die for did a good-job matching the personalities of both Kirsten and Bernadette. although somewhat exaggerated. According to an individual who attending the same school as the two girls during the early/mid 80’s, the only thing that was a bit off was the appearance. Kirsten Costa was younger than her killer, and shorter with brown hair, while the lifetime-movie depicted her as a  tall-blonde who is a little bit older than the jealous Bernadette.  Bernadette Protti however, is blonde in real-life and  taller than Kirsten.

A friend to die for AKA Death of a cheerleader – YouTube

The group, ‘Seeing Means More‘, named a song “Bernadette
Protti

Although the story below was published in Ladies’ Home Journal — and was the topic of the 1994 made-for-TV movie “Death of a Cheerleader”/”A Friend to Die For” starring Tori Spelling and Kellie Martin — this story has personal meaning to me, because I was a student at the same school. Along with the rest of the town, I watched this whole tale unfold sadly and slowly during the course of several months.
In addition to presenting the story as it was published in November of 1985, I have also added some photos from my own collection, including one from a trip Kirsten and I both took to Washington DC with a school group, as well as other pictures from our ’85 class yearbook.

The Murder of Bobby Kent (BULLY)

Bobby-Kent-MurderBobby 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”

9630222

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.

MUGSHOT PHOTOS

derekkaufman

Derek Kaufman, now 39, self-proclaimed “mafia leader and hitman”

derekdzvirko

Derek Dzvirko, now 40, cousin of Lisa Connelly

Lisa Connelly

Lisa Connelly who is now 37 –  Connelly was arrested in 2007 for a traffic violation which can be seen at Florida Arrests

donnysemenec

Donny Semenec (now 39)

heatherswallers

Heather Swallers (now 37)

Conspirators:

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.*

AliWillis

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.
Marty+puccio+and+bobby+kent
 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.