Miami teen charged in drowning of homeless man

Rhyheim Woodard, 16, accused of pushing victim into river

MIAMI – A 16-year-old boy from Miami was arrested Wednesday in connection with the death of a homeless man.

According to an arrest report, Rhyheim Shadrach Woodard and his friend were fishing May 24 in the Miami River in the area of Northwest North River Drive and Third Street.

Police said the victim was sleeping next to a wall near the river when the boys started "harassing him, asking for bait."

Police said Woodard grabbed the man's hat and threw it into the river. Police said the victim stood up and Woodard pushed him into the river. The homeless man struggled to stay afloat, went under and never surfaced, according to a witness.

According to the report, Woodard grabbed the victim's bag and rode off on his bicycle.

A witness who was walking his dog flagged down an officer, but authorities were not immediately able to locate the man in the water.

The victim's body was found the next day floating off West Flagler Street, three blocks away from where he was pushed into the water.

A medical examiner determined the cause of death to be drowning and the manner of his death to be homicide.

Woodard's friend was interviewed by detectives, who said the boy claimed that Woodard pushed the victim into the river and left him to drown.

Woodard's sister questions the friend's statements.

"You have two people there. If I saw somebody push you in the water, you think I'm going to stand there and let you drown?" she said. "No I'm not. I don't care if I know you or not. I'm not going to stand there and let you drown. I'm going to try to get help for you to get you out of there."

Woodard's father called said his son is a church-going boy who "knows right from wrong."

His mother also told Local 10 News reporter John Turchin that she doesn't believe that her son was involved in the victim's death.

"I don't have a clue," Willie Mae Woodard said. "I do know that he wouldn't mess with nobody unless they were messing with him"

Woodard faces one count of second-degree murder and could soon be charged as an adult. He remains in custody at the Juvenile Detention Center.

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