In October 1994, Wilk told the Houston Press, a New Times sister paper, that his fellow Republicans simply didn't understand. Through the Log Cabin organization, he wanted to show that "we're not a Mardi Gras parade. That we're not deviant. That we're not looking for special rights. Mainly we want a fair shake, that's all."
Wilk was the third of four children born in Chicago. When he was a teenager, his father Walter, an accountant, landed a job in Houston. How Wilk became both a Republican and a gun lover still baffles his father, a Democrat. A 1960s cowboy hero may have been the inspiration. "In the 19 years that Ken lived in this house, we never had guns," Walter Wilk says. "The only thing I can think of is Hopalong Cassidy. My son was obsessed with Hopalong Cassidy."
In high school, Wilk had a date to the prom but never a girlfriend. It wasn't until July 1987, at age 26, that he told his family he was gay. The circumstances were tragic. Wilk came over to his parents' house and handed his father a piece of paper. "It said he had AIDS," Walter Wilk remembers, then takes a long pause.
"I don't understand the attraction of males and males -- I'll be the first to admit that," he continues. "But we accepted him. We didn't ostracize him. He's gay, I thought. What's the big deal?"
In the mid-'90s, Wilk's sexuality and love of guns drew him to the Pink Pistols, an organization that advocates arming gays -- and operates 49 chapters in the United States and Canada, including one in Wilton Manors that held its first meeting earlier this month.
According to Hill, Wilk would often say that more gays with concealed weapons permits would mean fewer instances of harassment. "Ken would say that's the solution to homophobic violence -- guns," Hill says. "He was a strong advocate that everyone should get a gun and join the Pink Pistols."
In 1996, Wilk met Kelly Ray Jones, a lanky, 6-foot-2, 155-pound man with hazel eyes, red hair, and large ears. "Kelly seemed to have a calming influence on Ken," Hill says. After meeting Jones, Wilk left the Log Cabin Republicans and dropped out of public life.
Jones AIDS as well, and soon after their first date, they realized they were in love. From the beginning, Walter Wilk disliked his son's new partner. "I think in Kenny's case, a lot of [his trouble with the law] has to do with his infatuation with Kelly," Walter Wilk says. "That character is a leech who had an enormous impact on Ken."
Indeed, a court-ordered psychological report of Jones indicated that he was "egocentric and paranoid in his conceptualizations." He also blamed others for problems, psychologist Lori J. Butts said, making it appear as if everyone were against him and repeatedly responding to questions with the statement, "They want us dead."
Not long after meeting Wilk, Jones fell on hard times. He lost his job at a mortgage company, and his health began to fade. The couple moved to Miami, then to Chicago. Finally in 2000, they returned to South Florida, purchasing together a 1769-square-foot home in Fort Lauderdale for $237,000.
"They had previously lived in South Florida, where [Jones] responded well to warm weather," psychologist Merry Haber wrote in another court-ordered psychological report. But in Broward, Jones told Haber, his relationship with Wilk began to sour. They started sleeping in separate beds. Lonely, Jones bought a computer and a subscription to America Online. He worked at a desk in a spare bedroom. On top of the desk was a name plate that read: "Kelly R. Jones." Next to the keyboard was a mouse pad shaped like a dog's face.
And that's when he made a new friend named Henry.
On February 9, 2001, while in an AOL chat room known by law enforcement as a popular place to trade child pornography, Jones sent a private instant message using the user name FTLBAREBACK.
"What kinda pics and videos u got?" Jones wrote Henry. "Real turned on by young here."
Henry explained that he was a 36-year-old man in Fort Pierce with a 12-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter. Then Henry asked Jones if he was a cop.