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Homeless man from Miami charged with murder of Ryan Rogers, Palm Beach Gardens police say

WPBF West Palm Beach logo WPBF West Palm Beach 12/3/2021
Parents in Palm Beach Gardens react to arrest of Ryan Rogers' alleged killer © Palm Beach Gardens Police Department Parents in Palm Beach Gardens react to arrest of Ryan Rogers' alleged killer

A homeless man from Miami was charged with the murder of 14-year-old Ryan Rogers, who was found stabbed to death in Palm Beach Gardens.

Semmie Lee Williams Jr., 39, was taken into custody in Miami on Wednesday, according to police.

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Palm Beach Gardens police charged Williams with first-degree murder with a weapon. His first appearance in court was Thursday morning, where he was told he will be held without bond.

Officials said there is no motive at this time and they believe this was a completely random incident with "an innocent child victim."

"It appears to be an absolute chance encounter between a child on a bike and an animal that probably should not be out on our streets," said Chief Clint Shannon.

The investigation

Rogers was found dead on Nov. 16 just south of the I-95 overpass on Central Boulevard with his bike nearby. He was found two dozen feet from the sidewalk in a wooded area out of plain sight. He had gone missing one day earlier after his mother said he had left his home on his bike and not returned, according to police.

Data from Rogers' phone revealed he was traveling south on the I-95 overpass and stopped at about 7:31 p.m. Williams was seen on surveillance video walking northbound on Central Boulevard at 7:20 p.m. The two would have crossed paths at about 7:31 p.m., according to investigators.

"He has no ties that we can determine to Palm Beach Gardens or Palm Beach County — none whatsoever. It’s a mystery to us why this man was in our community but we have evidence that places him on the scene and makes him responsible for the murder of this child," Chief Clint Shannon said.

The autopsy results showed Rogers was stabbed multiple times in the head and face, police said. His cause of death was ruled a homicide.

Police said headphones were found at the crime scene that did not belong to Rogers. A DNA sample produced a positive match belonging to Williams.

When Williams was located in Miami, a bloodstained bandana was found in his backpack, investigators said. Further analysis showed the two contributors to the bloodstains were Rogers and Williams.

When he was interviewed by law enforcement, Williams denied any interaction with Rogers.

Officials said while he was located in Miami, there is evidence that he traveled to Palm Beach County on Nov. 15 and returned to Miami the following day.

Video below: Williams' criminal history

Officials said the investigation was "extremely challenging" from the beginning, and there was a lot of information that couldn't be released to the public without endangering what they were doing. The investigation moved very rapidly, with a lot of local and federal departments helping, according to Palm Beach Gardens police.

Earlier this week, police said parents should remain vigilant and take steps they feel are appropriate with regard to their children's activities in public.

Palm Beach Gardens Police said they increased patrols in the community amid the investigation. The chief said that while people should always be vigilant, the community is safe, they "removed a dangerous monster from the streets," and this incident could have happened in any location.

Shannon said he met with Ryan's parents Thursday morning to offer condolences in this "unimaginable tragedy."

The investigation is ongoing at this time, and police said there are still many details that can't yet be revealed.

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This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.

READ THE FULL STORY:Homeless man from Miami charged with murder of Ryan Rogers, Palm Beach Gardens police say

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