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DNA evidence from headphones, bloodstained bandana links Semmie Williams Jr. to killing of Ryan Rogers

Probable cause affidavit reveals 14-year-old boy 'stabbed numerous times' in head, face
Ryan Rogers and Semmie Williams Jr., photos divided by crime scene
Posted at 1:42 PM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 21:15:31-05

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — A homeless drifter accused of fatally stabbing a 14-year-old boy in Palm Beach Gardens traveled from Miami to Palm Beach County on the same day of his random encounter with Ryan Rogers, a probable cause affidavit revealed Thursday.

Semmie Williams Jr. was arrested Wednesday in connection with the teenager's death.

A probable cause affidavit from the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department details how DNA evidence collected at the crime scene and found on a bloodstained bandana in the suspect's possession led police to Williams.

Rogers left his home on his bicycle at 6:40 p.m. on Nov. 15. About four hours later at 10:30 p.m., the boy's mother reported him missing.

The boy's body was found the next day in a wooded area, "out of plain sight," off Central Boulevard, 80 feet south of the Interstate 95 overpass and about 24 feet from the sidewalk.

Chopper 5 view of search for Ryan Rogers
A view from Chopper 5 shows Palm Beach Gardens police search for Ryan Rogers in a wooded area off Central Boulevard.

Lead Detective Jennifer Brashear said the investigation revealed that Rogers was traveling south along the I-95 overpass on Central Boulevard when, according to data recovered from his cellphone, he stopped at 7:31 p.m.

Surveillance video showed Williams walking north on Central Boulevard in Rogers' direction at 7:28 p.m.

"The two would have crossed paths at approximately 7:31 p.m.," Brashear wrote in the affidavit.

An autopsy revealed that Rogers "was stabbed numerous times in the head and face." Palm Beach Gardens police announced on Nov. 20 that Rogers was the victim of a homicide.

Brashear noted that a set of headphones found at the crime scene didn't belong to Rogers. DNA swabs were collected from the headphones and processed by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office forensic team. The DNA sample was then entered into a national database, "which produced a positive match belonging to the suspect."

investigators at scene where Ryan Rogers found dead, Nov. 19, 2021
Police investigators return to the scene where Ryan Rogers, 14, was found dead along Central Boulevard, Nov. 19, 2021, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

When investigators located Williams in Miami, he had a green backpack in his possession.

A search warrant was obtained and investigators discovered a bloodstained bandana inside.

Forensic analysis showed that "the sole two contributors to the DNA mixture from the blood on the bandana" were Rogers and Williams, Brashear wrote.

Williams was interviewed by detectives last Friday but "denied any interaction with the victim."

However, Brashear said there was "evidence to show" he traveled to Palm Beach County on Nov. 15 -- the day Rogers disappeared -- and returned to Miami on Nov. 16 -- the day the boy's body was discovered.

William is now back in Palm Beach County, where he was being held without bond at the main jail on a charge of first-degree murder.