ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - It’s been almost one week since Joana Peca was shot and killed, and police said they are still searching for the murder suspect: her boyfriend. Now US Marshals and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are joining the manhunt – and offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
St. Pete police detectives identified 38-year-old Benjamin Robert Williams – a.k.a. "Bambi" – as the suspect following Saturday’s deadly shooting. They said Williams and 27-year-old Peca were in a relationship and had a baby together.
Police said Peca was holding their 4-month-old infant when Williams shot her in the face multiple times. Her older child, a 4-year-old boy, was sitting in the backseat when it happened. When officers arrived, Peca was found dead inside her vehicle.
Benjamin Robert Williams (provided by St. Petersburg Police Department)
Both children were uninjured, but "terrified at what had just happened," police said at the time.
"That 4-year-old has to live with that for the rest of their life, watching his mom being executed," St. Pete Police Chief Anthony Holloway said during a Thursday news conference.
The shooting happened outside Woodlawn Memorial Gardens on 60th Street South after 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
The victim's mother, Eleni Peca, said her daughter went to the cemetery because Williams had asked her to come visit where his sister was buried.
"She trusted him, that's why she went there that day," Eleni Peca said Thursday. "He was at his sister's grave. She went there to show support for him."
She said her grandchildren are "traumatized" after witnessing their mother's murder.
"They went to bed that night without saying good night to their mother," Eleni Peca said. "We need justice. The babies need justice."
The grieving mother pleaded for anyone with information to come forward.
"Today he did that to my daughter, tomorrow he could do that to somebody else," she said. "I'm begging one more time, please, if anybody knows anything, please come forward and help us."
When asked if she had a message for Williams, Eleni Peca replied, "He's not human."
An arrest warrant has since been issued for Williams and police believe he is connected to other murder investigations in St. Pete. They said he is armed and dangerous.
Jail records show Williams has had about 40 arrests in Pinellas County dating back to 2007. Charges included drug possession, tampering with evidence, aggravated battery, armed robbery, grand theft and resisting arrest.
Anyone with information on Williams' whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-8477. Tipsters can call St. Pete police at 727-893-7780. You can also text "SPPD" along with your tip to TIP411.