TAMPA, Fla. -- It's hard to think of someone as a career criminal when they're just 22, but Tampa police say David Earl Williams, Jr. was already committing crimes when he was half that age.
Williams was already behind bars doing time on a burglary charge, say police, when they charged him with Ryan McCall's 2009 murder.
It's a familiar place for the 22-year-old, they say, who's been in and out of the system since he was a child. "His first arrest came when he was 11 years old," said Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor. "Strong arm robbery, for beating up a fellow student in Tampa."
Investigators say the burglary charges that landed Williams in jail most recently occured during the same month and a half when the 22-year-old allegedly shot and killed McCall.
Police say on July 23, 2009, Williams, then 19, got out of prison after serving nine months on a charge out of Jackson County.
And at that point? "He was a one-man crime spree on those 41 days," said Castor. "Robbing, burglarizing, and even killing. And the Tampa Police Department is here to make sure he pays for each of those crimes."
Just 27 days after his release, police say Williams killed McCall.
Eleven days after that, he allegedly committed another armed robbery.
Two days later, there were a pair of burglaries for which he was arrested the following day.
Williams tried to convince police there was another person there the night McCall was killed, and that person, he said, was the one who murdered McCall. But detectives say there has never been a report of a second suspect at the scene of the crime and they're convinced Williams is the killer.
On the University of Tampa campus, where students are taught from day one to beware the surrounding area, the news of Williams' arrest was welcome, but they say they'll still keep their guard up.
"It's not like he can get away with it now. He's not roaming the streets or anything like that," said M.J. Lorenzo, a sophomore. "Yeah, it helps you sleep at night."
Not far from campus, at Williams' last known address, a voice through the door would only say that Williams no longer lived at the home along the I-275 service road in Tampa.
In Williams' neighborhood, person after person said they could not recognize his picture. Perhaps that's because police say Williams has spent so much of his young life off his neighborhood streets, and instead behind bars.
This time it took nearly three years to clear the case, but Chief Jane Castor's message was clear. "You will pay eventually for the crimes that you commit," she said.