A 16-year-old boy from Miami, Florida, Rhyheim Woodard, was reportedly fishing with a friend in the Miami River on May 24 when they came across a homeless man sleeping next to a nearby wall.
The teen woke up the unidentified homeless man and began “harassing” him for bait, according to the arrest report. “The victim then stood up at which time the defendant then intentionally pushed the victim into the water," the report says.
The teen then took the homeless man’s bag and rode off on his bicycle as he drowned, Local 10 reported. The man’s body washed ashore the next day. Police identified the teen as a suspect after his friend and fishing companion talked to investigators on July 7.
Homeless advocates were stunned by the death, which the medical examiner's office ruled a homicide.
"Actually, just amazement at what could be going on through that young man's mind to want to do harm to another person, any person. And in this case, someone who really has nothing in the world except whatever he has on his back,” Sam Gil, vice president of marketing at Camillus House, an agency that helps homeless, told WSVN.
Though it’s unknown if the teen will be charged as an adult for second-degree murder, Earnest Woodard, who identified himself as the teen’s father, said his son is “a good kid.”
“He's very good. He's got to work with some very difficult problems that he's having,” he told WSVN, adding that his son struggled in school. He also told Local 10 that his son is a church-goer who "knows right from wrong."
The teen’s mother also believes her son wasn’t involved. "I don't have a clue," Willie Mae Woodard told Local 10. "I do know that he wouldn't mess with nobody unless they were messing with him”