Police chief: Homeless drifter from Miami with extensive record killed 14-year-old boy

Body of Palm Beach Gardens teen found alongside an Interstate 95 overpass

A 39-year-old man who police say has an extensive criminal record and lives on the streets of Miami is responsible for the murder of a Palm Beach Gardens teen.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – “He appears to be a homeless drifter spending most of his time on the streets of Miami” is how Clint Shannon, Chief of Police of Palm Beach Gardens’ Police Department, described 39-year-old Semmie Lee Williams Jr.

Williams was arrested Wednesday and was taken into custody in Miami on a first-degree murder charge for the killing of Ryan Rogers, 14.

(Watch the press conference below.)

Rogers, a freshman at William T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens and an avid soccer player, was found dead on Nov. 16 alongside an Interstate 95 overpass just a few minutes away from his home.

On Nov. 15 at 6:40 p.m., investigators say Rogers left his home in Palm Beach Gardens on his bike. At 10:30 p.m., his mother, Cindy, reported him missing.

It was less than 24 hours that Rogers’ body was found 80-feet south of the Interstate 95 overpass on Central Boulevard, according to Williams’ arrest form.

The form also states that a set of headphones, which did not belong to Rogers, were found at the scene. A DNA match to Williams was determined by the Palm Beach County Forensic Biology Unit.

Ryan Rogers (WPLG)

“The incident itself appears to be a completely random act. We do not have a motive in this case and I would best describe it as an innocent child victim having a chance encounter with a very violent criminal,” Shannon said at a Thursday press conference outside of the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department.

Shannon did say that Rogers was stabbed, but would not release further details, saying that the investigation is ongoing.

Social media reveals Miami homeless man had mental health issues and was arrested in the murder of a teenage boy in Palm Beach Gardens.

“It appears to be a chance encounter between a child and an animal that should not be out on our streets,” Shannon said.

Williams has an extensive criminal record, according to Shannon.

In 2016, Williams was arrested for aggravated assault with strangulation by the Fulton County Georgia police department.

In 2016, Williams was a fugitive from justice and arrested on a warrant in San Diego, Calif.

In 2014, he was arrested for battery on a person 65 years of age or older in Atlanta, Ga.

In 2007, he was arrested for failure to appear in Seminole, Fla.

In 2006, he was arrested for violation of an injunction on a battery case and failure to appear in Sanford, Fla.

In 2005, he was arrested on a protective order for domestic violence in Seminole County, Fla.

In 2005, he was arrested for probation violation in Seminole County, Fla.

In 2004, he was arrested for petty theft in Sanford, Fla. and

In 2004, he was arrested for carrying a concealed electric weapon in Sanford, Fla.

Williams is being held without bond at Palm Beach County’s Main Detention Center.

In a statement on a GoFundMe page set up the Rogers’ family, Ryan’s mother, Cindy, said:

“. . . The loss of Ryan is unimaginable and I never thought I would ever not see him play soccer again, or spend vacation with him or see him walk through the door or send him off to school every morning. His smile, his laugh and his heart is what I remember the most.”


About the Author:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com. She has a bachelor's degree from Emerson College, Boston, and a master's degree from SUNY-Empire State.