Homeless drifter killed 14-year-old Florida boy, police say

Body of Palm Beach Gardens teen found alongside Interstate 95 overpass

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 in Palm Beach Gardens, described 39-year-old Semmie Lee Williams Jr., who’s accused of killing a 14-year-old boy.

Williams was arrested Wednesday and taken into custody in Miami on a first-degree murder charge in the death of Ryan Rogers, according to WPLG-TV.

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. It was less than 24 hours since his mother had reported him missing.

He had last been seen riding his bicycle away from his home the night before, and authorities confirmed that a bicycle was found on the ground near his body.

“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.

Police have identified Simmie Lee Williams Jr., 39, who they say lives on the streets of Miami as the person who murdered a 14-year-old Palm Beach Gardens teen. (WPLG)

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

“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.