Florida Police say a 39-year-old “homeless vagrant” was behind the murder of a teenager who went out for a bike ride two weeks ago and never made it home.
Police announced first-degree premeditated murder charges Thursday morning against Semmie Lee Williams in the stabbing death of 14-year-old Ryan Rogers.
MURDER IN FLORIDA: A SUSPECT ARRESTED FOR THE HOMICIDE OF A 14-YEAR-OLD BOY THAT THE POLICE OVERBUILDED “DELIBERATED ACT”
Palm Beach Gardens Police Chief Clinton Shannon said Williams had a long criminal record, full of charges of violence and dating back more than two decades.
“The incident itself appears to be a completely random act – we have no motive in this case,” Shannon said. “[It was] an innocent child victim who had a chance encounter with a very violent criminal. “
Court records show authorities sent him to the Palm Beach County Detention Center at around 10:50 p.m. Wednesday.
Palm Beach Gardens police announced an arrest in the case earlier in the evening, saying they caught a suspect in Miami but had not disclosed any other details.
Shannon said investigators had received a plethora of advice over the past two weeks at a press conference Thursday morning.
He called it an “unthinkable tragedy” and “unimaginable loss” to the Rogers family.
Ryan grabbed his bike and left around 6:39 p.m. on November 15, authorities said. The sun went down and he couldn’t make it home. At 10:30 p.m., her parents filed a missing person report.
Police found his remains the next day along Central Boulevard under the Interstate 95 overpass.
Investigators ruled his death a homicide and police said it looked like “a deliberate act.”
“Palm Beach Gardens appears to be a fairly safe city with a very low crime rate,” Shannon said Thursday, noting that crime can still happen anywhere. “People should always be alert and aware of their surroundings wherever they are.”
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The incident shocked the surrounding community – a tight-knit upper-middle-class enclave with virtually no violent crime.
“[Ryan] was a beautiful soul with nothing but love in her heart, ”wrote family friend Janine Lano in a GoFundMe set up to help with the teenage athlete’s funeral expenses.
Ryan’s family did not immediately respond to requests for comment.