A breakthrough has finally been made in a cold case.
In 2006, the body of a 16-year-old girl, who was identified as Amber Woods, was found in a remote part of Manatee County, Fla., and now decades later, three men have been arrested and charged in connection with the murder of the girl whom they believed was pregnant.
At the time, Woods’ 20-year-old boyfriend, Ralph Williams, thought his younger girlfriend was pregnant and feared the legal repercussions of getting a minor pregnant, so Williams and his brothers hatched a plan to kidnap and murder Woods.
This is 16-year-old Amber Woods. Deputies say she was dating her accused murderer 35-year-old Ralph Williams. He’s accused of wanting to end the relationship and it was generally believed she was pregnant. Ralph is accused of conspiring with his brothers to kidnap and kill her. pic.twitter.com/FWkktZQueV— Daniela Hurtado (@DaniCHurtado_) December 21, 2020
Williams, who is now 35, his brother Tyjuan, 32, and their half brother Jamaine Brown, 37, drove Woods to a remote location and "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."
Woods was last seen by her aunt in their home at 12:30 p.m. on February 11, before a passerby found her body at 7:30 a.m. on the side of the highway. The body was positioned to appear as though she had been sexually assaulted but no assault actually took place. An autopsy also confirmed that Woods was not pregnant.
However, the case went cold and was reopened in 2019 by "two detectives who picked up this cold case knowing they could do more — knowing they could bring justice to Amber’s family." An award of $10,000 was even put up for any information that could lead to an arrest.
Ralph and Tyjuan were arrested on Tuesday, December 15, and were both charged with second-degree murder, but they were already in custody for unrelated charges. Ralph was in Polk County, and Tyjuan was in Hardee County. The brothers are being held without bond as they await extradition.
It's not yet known if they have entered plea deals or have attorneys.
Brown was arrested in May and charged with kidnapping Woods, and pleaded guilty to the charge of accessory to murder on Friday, December 18, and as part of the plea, he opened up about the series of events behind Woods’ murder.
Brown was arrested after a witness told police that he saw Brown arguing with Woods outside her home and had told her to get in a car.
New technology also afforded detectives to tap into tracking software — it located a phone, which was believed to be Williams’ in the area where Woods’ was found.
"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," Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells said in a press conference on Monday, December 21. "These detectives were never going to quit searching. We knew. We knew we had enough to build a case."
While Woods’ family is relieved her killers have been brought to justice, "they took something that can never be replaced, ever," relative Crystal Moses told ABC7.
We’re thinking of Woods' family during this time.