Gainesville police investigate parental abduction of child

6-year-old was taken from his aunt's Gainesville home Saturday night

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Police are searching for a 56-year-old man who they believe abducted his 6-year-old son from a Gainesville home Saturday evening. 

The Gainesville Police Department said James Williams, 56, of Maryland, tracked his estranged wife to Gainesville. Investigators said Williams' wife moved to her Gainesville about a month ago, following issues of domestic violence when they were together in Maryland.

According to the Gainesville Police Department, Williams forced his way into the home in Gainesville and took his son, 6-year-old Mezz Williams. He then left the scene in black Jeep Patriot. Williams may be headed back to Maryland with the child, investigators said. 

Mezz's mother, Tracy Washington, and his aunt, Crystal Carr, told News4Jax Monday about how the boy was taken from Carr's home.

Carr said that they never use the front door of the home, only the back door, which is why they were caught off guard Saturday night. 

"To me, I feel like we were being watched, to know our patterns," Carr said. "He was like right there, at the door. And I look down and I'm like, 'Oh my God.'"

Carr said her sister finally had the courage to leave the boy's father after what she said was a 9-year-long abusive relationship. Carr said Williams immediately began asking about his family as he stood at the back door. 

"I'm like, 'No. You need to let me process this. Give me five minutes.' And I'm trying to shut the door and he's forcing his way in. And I, literally, tried to keep him from pushing through," Carr said.

That's when Washington heard the commotion and ran to see what was happening.

"He had already pushed in. And he said, 'You know you're wrong. This is not right. I just want to see my family," Washington said. 

Washington said Williams does not have official custody of the child. She said she never completed filing for full custody of Mezz because she and Williams had an on-and-off relationship, which a Gainesville organization that works with domestic abuse victims helped her understand.

"They helped me into recognizing and realizing that I was actually in an abusive relationship because I really didn't know. I really didn't think I was because I didn't always have bumps and bruises," Washington said. 

Family Support Services said it's important for Washington, and other women in similar situations, to file for custody.

Williams has active warrants from Maryland in addition to charges of domestic battery and residential burglary from GPD.

He is described as 5 foot 9 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds, and was last seen with facial hair and glasses, wearing a black shirt and gray slacks.

Mezz was last seen wearing a green "Yo Gaba Gaba" T-shirt and green camo shorts.

A Florida AMBER Alert has not been issued.

"For FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) to accept our request for an AMBER Alert, there must be a belief that the child is in serious harm of death or serious injury -- and that has to be a very real thing that we believe," said Officer Ben Tobias. 

Washington told News4Jax, "I don't think he would intentionally try to hurt our son."

News4Jax tried to contact Williams Monday, but has not yet heard back.

"Please bring me back my son. Give my son back," Washington said.

Anyone with information is urged to call GPD dispatch at 352-955-1818. To provide anonymous information, text keyword GPDFL plus a tip to 274637 (CRIMES).

About the Authors: