Family, friends of missing sailor join for candlelight vigil

Chief Petty Officer Kevin Williams missing since May

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Friends and family of Chief Petty Officer Kevin Williams gathered during a candlelight vigil Friday in Mandarin.

Williams disappeared May 28 near the Avenues Mall. The last time his wife saw him, they had an argument outside the mall and she went back in to finish shopping for a dress for their daughter.

Police say he used his debit card at a Kangaroo gas station and then got in a cab. He asked the cab driver to drop him off at the Tivoli Apartments complex.

A fellow Navy wife, Jinnie Benedict, felt compelled to help Vanessa Williams and her children through this difficult time, so she organized the vigil.

"I just want to help the family. They're devastated and I just couldn't imagine, so we're just trying to help ease some of that load for them and ease," Benedict said.

William's wife cried as she spoke with Channel 4's Scott Johnson on Friday night.

"I need people to remember and hope we find him," said Vanessa Williams. "Care everyday, and hope that he's gonna be okay and come home."

Benedict hoped the candlelight vigil would spark more leads on what happened to Williams after he got out of the cab.

"That was the last time he'd been seen or heard from. No activity ever since," Benedict said. "There's been hundreds of leads, and as far as the family knows, nothing has panned out yet."

William's wife, daughter and son have been handing out fliers with his picture on them since he went missing. But so far, no leads have given the family any more information.

"It wasn't tense enough for this to happen. It's been difficult because I didn't kiss him goodbye," said Vanessa. "I didn't tell him I love him and that's the hard part."

At one point, police believed Williams could be in North Carolina.

Vanessa has said life has been difficult without her husband.

"I can't sleep, I can't think. I feel so sick, I feel so sad without him, and I know I have to go on for my two kids," she said.

His son Jamal is still in shock over the disappearance.

"The fact that he's gone, I never thought it'd happen. I never thought I would be in front of a camera today. It's like you watch these stories all the time," Jamal said.

The military considers the Chief Petty Officer AWOL and among the group that gathered Friday night were a lot of military wives who wanted to lend Williams their support.

"He's a sailor, there's a lot of sailors in this town. A lot of wives. Our husbands go out all the time," said Kara Rice. "If he fell off a ship, they wouldn't stop looking for him. So as a wife, we need to keep looking for this sailor. We need to help this family."