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St. Petersburg police hope TV show, $25K reward will help lead to suspect in killing

Police say Benjamin “Bambi” Williams, now 39, gunned down his girlfriend while she held their 4-month-old child in her arms. He’s been on the run for more than a year, they say.
St. Petersburg police spent much of Tuesday handing out these flyers of wanted fugitive Benjamin "Bambi" Williams. His case will be featured on the TV show "In Pursuit with John Walsh" on Wednesday at 9 p.m.
St. Petersburg police spent much of Tuesday handing out these flyers of wanted fugitive Benjamin "Bambi" Williams. His case will be featured on the TV show "In Pursuit with John Walsh" on Wednesday at 9 p.m. [ St. Petersburg Police Department ]
Published Nov. 8, 2022|Updated Nov. 9, 2022

For 15 months, St. Petersburg police have searched for a man they say is responsible for killing his ex-girlfriend — gunning down the 27-year-old mother in front of her two children, then leaving them behind when he fled the scene.

Still, despite pleas to the public and increasing rewards for information, police have yet to find Benjamin “Bambi” Williams.

Now, the reward for information leading to his arrest has increased to $25,000, police said. The mysterious case has also captured the attention of the true-crime television show “In Pursuit with John Walsh,” which will feature the hunt for Williams this Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 9 p.m. EST on Investigation Discovery, and streaming on discovery+.

On Tuesday, detectives with the Police Department handed out flyers asking the public for help in locating Williams, now 39. The hope, the agency said in a statement, is to use “this opportunity to refocus public attention on the search for Williams,” who also has been linked to several open homicide investigations.

It was July 31, 2021, just after 5:30 p.m., when St. Petersburg police responded to a call about a shooting near the Woodlawn Memorial Gardens Cemetery, at the corner of First Avenue S and 60th Street S.

There they found Joana Peca, 27, shot dead inside her car as her two young children sat inside, unharmed but “terrified,” Police Chief Anthony Holloway said at the time. Investigators quickly pieced together that Williams had asked Peca to meet him at that location with her two children so he could see them, then shot her multiple times in the face while she was holding their 4-month-old child in her arms.

Photos of Joana Peca, 27, are displayed at a news conference at St. Petersburg police headquarters on Aug. 5, 2021. Authorities now are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Benjamin "Bambi" Williams, 39, who police say fatally shot Peca on July 31, 2021.
Photos of Joana Peca, 27, are displayed at a news conference at St. Petersburg police headquarters on Aug. 5, 2021. Authorities now are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Benjamin "Bambi" Williams, 39, who police say fatally shot Peca on July 31, 2021. [ TONY MARRERO | Times ]

In the back seat, Peca’s 4-year-old child from a previous relationship watched the shooting in horror, the Police Department said.

Holloway’s department launched a manhunt for Williams with help from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service, but to no avail. The two federal agencies each have pledged $10,000 toward the reward, Holloway said.

As of Tuesday, the total reward for information leading to Williams’ capture is $25,000.

Authorities asked anyone with information on Williams’ whereabouts to call 877-926-8332.