14-Year-Old on Bike Ride Fatally Stabbed in 'Random Act' by Homeless Man, Police Say

Florida authorities announced Thursday that last month's fatal stabbing of a 14-year-old boy riding a bicycle was committed at random by a homeless man, the Associated Press reported.

Palm Beach Gardens Chief Clinton Shannon said that Ryan Rogers, 14, left his home onto go on a bike ride when he encountered Semmie Lee Williams, 39. He was stabbed multiple times in the head. Rogers' body was discovered along an overpass on Interstate 95 the following day.

"This appears to be a completely random act. We do not have a motive," Shannon said. "I would best describe it as an innocent child victim having a chance encounter with a very violent criminal."

According to court records, a bandana that had Rogers' blood on it was found inside Williams' backpack. Williams, who was arrested in Miami Wednesday, denied having ever been with Rogers.

The records also show that a pair of headphones present at the scene had Williams' DNA on them.

Williams reportedly had a history of committing random acts of violence. Court records show that he pleaded guilty to an attack in Atlanta in 2014 for aggravated assault-strangulation and battery on a person 65 or older.

Williams spent four years in jail and a mental hospital for the incident.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Palm Beach, Florida, Murder
This photo provided by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office shows Semmie Lee Williams. Williams, 39, was arrested Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, in Miami on first-degree murder charges for the Nov. 15 slaying of Ryan Rogers, whose body was found alongside an Interstate 95 overpass the next day, said Palm Beach Gardens Chief Clinton Shannon. AP Photo/Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office

Court procedures were delayed for four years because Williams was found mentally incompetent to assist in his defense.

A man was walking down the street when Williams jumped out from behind a wall, ran up behind him, put him in a tight chokehold and beat him on the head, transcripts of WIlliams' 2018 court hearing show.

The victim testified that he could not breathe during the attack and was about to pass out when passersby intervened. Williams threw the victim into a ravine, leaving him with a permanent arm injury, and ran away. Williams was arrested after a short search of the area.

The victim said that he asked Williams during the attack if he wanted money.

"He said no. He knows my kind and he is going to finish me," the victim told Judge Thomas A. Cox Jr. "I'm lucky to be alive. The intent was to kill me."

Williams had served four years in jail and a mental hospital. Prosecutors wanted an additional year, but Cox said that since Williams had no prior felony convictions, he would be sentenced to time served and released that day. Cox ordered Williams to leave Georgia immediately upon release and travel by bus to central Florida to live with his mother, who had agreed to care for him. He was to serve five years probation in Florida.

The Atlanta victim did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The Associated Press is not naming him to protect his privacy.

Williams also has arrests in the mid-2000s in central Florida for various misdemeanor charges including domestic violence, resisting arrest without violence, petty theft and carrying a concealed electronic weapon. His mother, during that period, took out a restraining order against him.

His mother did not return a call seeking comment.

Williams was arrested Wednesday in Miami on first-degree murder charges for the Nov. 15 slaying of Rogers.

Williams made his first court appearance Thursday and was ordered held without bond.

Investigators say Williams also matches the description of a man videotaped by a security camera walking toward the area where the body was found about 10 minutes before the boy's cellphone stopped moving.

Shannon said Williams has no known ties to Palm Beach County and it is unknown why he would have been in the area, which is about 80 miles (129 kilometers) north of Miami. No one else is believed to be involved in the slaying.

The Palm Beach County Public Defender's Office declined comment.