2 Brothers Allegedly Murdered Fla. Girl in 2006 Because They Mistakenly Thought She Was Pregnant
One of the suspects was 20 at the time of the killing and worried he'd get in trouble because the victim was underage
Three men have been arrested and charged in connection with the 2006 slaying of a Florida teen they mistakenly believed was pregnant, say police.
In February 2006, the body of 16-year-old Amber Woods was found in the high grass in a remote part of State Road 62 in Hardee County, Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells said at a press conference Monday.
The teen had been shot in the back.
Over the years, the case went cold.
On Monday, the sheriff announced that two brothers, Ralph Williams, 35, Tyjuan Williams, 32, and their half-brother Jamaine Brown, 37, had been arrested and charged in connection with Woods’ death.
Ralph Williams and Tyjuan Williams were arrested on Dec. 15 and are both charged with second-degree murder.
At the time they were arrested and charged, Ralph Williams was already in custody in Polk County on unrelated charges; Tyjuan Williams was in custody in Hardee County on unrelated charges, Wells said.
They are being held without bond and are awaiting extradition.
It is unclear whether they have entered pleas or whether they have retained attorneys who can speak on their behalf.
Brown was arrested in May and charged with kidnapping, Wells said.
Brown was arrested in May and on Friday, in a plea agreement with prosecutors, “He pleaded [guilty] to the charge of accessory to murder,” Wells said.
As part of the plea agreement, he told authorities about Woods’ alleged kidnapping and shooting death. (Brown's attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.)
Brown's arrest came after a witness allegedly told police he saw Brown arguing with Woods outside her home on Feb. 11, 2006, and ordering her to get into the car, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by the Bradenton Herald.
In 2006, Ralph Williams was 20 when he was dating Woods and believed she was pregnant.
Detectives allegedly found a text message that he “was concerned he could face criminal charges because she was underage,” Wells said.
As a result, “he wanted to end the relationship and conspired with his brothers” to kidnap and kill Woods, Wells alleged.
Woods was last seen by her aunt at their home on State Road 62 at 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 11, 2006, Wells said.
In a November 2, 2020, interview as part of his plea agreement, Brown told detectives that on the night that Woods was allegedly kidnapped, she was driven to a rural location on State Road 62, Wells said.
Based on information police obtained from Brown, Wells alleged, “They got out of the car, and Tyjuan shot Amber once in the back. Jamaine and Ralph then dragged her deceased body off the roadway into the high grass, before fleeing the scene.”
Her body was spotted by a passerby at 7:30 a.m. on the south side of the highway.
An autopsy confirmed that Woods was not actually pregnant.
Detectives tried to solve her murder but over the years, the case went cold.
In 2019, detectives began looking into the case again.
“This started with two detectives who picked up this cold case knowing they could do more – knowing they could bring justice to Amber’s family,” Wells said.
A phone allegedly used by Ralph Williams on the night of the slaying was in the vicinity of the location where Woods’ body was found, Wells said.
Tapping into “previously unavailable technology,” the crime analysis unit used tracking software to pinpoint the phone’s location that night, he said.
“We always believed that these three murderers were in cahoots together and were trying to do everything they could to conceal the fact that they had murdered Amber and they went the last several years like nothing ever happened,” Wells said.
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Woods’ family is relieved that the men have been arrested and charged, but are still mourning her loss.
“She was a good person, kind-hearted, loved her family,” Woods’s relative, Crystal Moses, said, ABC7 reports.
“They took something that can never be replaced, ever,” said Moses.