Semmie Lee Williams, a Miami drifter, was charged this week with the killing of Ryan Rogers, a 14-year-old Palm Beach boy who went missing last month. According to police, the 39-year-old was taken into custody Wednesday.
Williams is accused of first-degree murder in connection with the death of Ryan Rogers, whose body was discovered on a Florida highway the day after he was last seen. Williams is homeless, according to authorities. He was arraigned Thursday morning and ordered to be held without bond, according to Palm Beach County jail records.
Did Semmie Lee Williams Kill Florida Teen?
Ryan Rogers, 14, was a freshman at William T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens when he was reported missing by his family on Nov. 15, local reports indicate. The youth was found stabbed to death on the side of a boulevard near I-95, kicking off an extensive murder investigation that initially gave no leads.
But police said they discovered DNA evidence on the boy’s body implicating Semmie Lee Williams.
Investigators told the Miami Herald they were able to track down Williams — who has no permanent address — by gathering clues through his YouTube channel. The bizarre page hosts over one thousand clips of the 39-year-old filming his surroundings and apparently accusing passersby of “gang stalking,” or conspiring to sabotage him personally.
“They have chips planted all over my body right and they reading my mind through my ears and they be tearing up my shoes,” he says in one clip. “For the past 10 years, every city I go to, the police, they hit me with electric weapons to give me cancer.”
Through the landmarks and streetscapes inadvertently captured in Williams’ video, Palm Beach Gardens investigators were able to track the drifter to Miami, where he was located Wednesday and formally charged Thursday morning.
Police said they have yet to determine an apparent motive in the brutal slaying of Ryan Rogers. Authorities also said that Williams and his alleged victim had no connection prior to the boy’s death.
“The incident itself appears to be a completely random act — we do not have a motive in this case,” said Palm Beach Gardens Police Chief Clinton Shannon. “[Ryan Rogers was] an innocent child victim having a chance encounter with a very violent criminal.”
According to Fox News, the 39-year-old has been arrested previously in connection with violent crimes. In 2016, Williams was charged with strangulation and assault in Georgia. Two years prior, he was accused of beating up an elderly man in Atlanta, and the Herald reported he had at least one Florida arrest for domestic battery “in the mid-2000s.”
Police have not said if Williams was psychologically evaluated after being booked in Palm Beach County jail, nor is it clear if he’s been appointed an attorney. If convicted of first-degree, premeditated murder with a weapon – a capital felony under Florida law – he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Ryan Rogers’ Brutal Murder Stunned Beach Town
Residents of the “tight-knit” Florida community, where violent crime is exceedingly uncommon, were shocked by 14-year-old Ryan Rogers’ grizzly slaying last month.
“Palm Beach Gardens appears to be a fairly safe city with a very low crime rate,” Chief Shannon told reporters at a Thursday morning presser. “People need to always be vigilant and aware of their surroundings wherever they are.”
Rogers’ family, who does not appear to have commented on Williams’ arrest, continues to mourn their beloved son.
“I also want to take a moment to say that the loss of Ryan is unimaginable,” his mother wrote in a heartbreaking post to a GoFundMe page. “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.”
The crowdfunding page, meant to help offset funeral costs, raised more than $100,000 — easily surpassing its $50,000 goal and displaying the closeness of a community in mourning.
“His smile, his laugh, and his heart [are] what I remember the most,” the teen’s mom said. “I was blessed to have him as my son.”