Focus of search for 5-year-old Taylor shifts to Alabama

Mother reported Jacksonville girl missing last Wednesday

Crews set up camp Monday evening at the Demopolis Sport Complex in Alabama as part of the search for Taylor Rose Williams.

DEMOPOLIS, Ala. – The search for 5-year-old girl Taylor Rose Williams expanded Monday, with dozens of Jacksonville police offers and firefighters traveling to Alabama, where her mother is from and has friends.

This comes as Sheriff Mike Williams said that Taylor's mother, Brianna Williams, is now considered a person of interest in the girl's disappearance. She stopped answering questions the day after calling 911 last Wednesday to report the girl missing.

"We need her cooperation," the sheriff said in a news conference announcing the deployment of the Urban Search and Rescue Team to Marengo County, Alabama.

Search teams, with the assistance of K-9s and some high-tech tools, plan to search a 25-mile radius around Demopolis, where Brianna Williams has friends, and her hometown of Linden. 

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office homicide and missing persons detectives, and 38 members of Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department's Search and Rescue Team traveled to the area. As of 7 p.m. Monday, News4Jax was told the JFRD team was in Pensacola, on its way,

A command post was set up Monday night at the Demopolis Sport Complex in Alabama, where crews arrived throughout the evening. A few Emergency Preparedness Units and a tanker truck could also be seen.

VIDEO: Focus of search for Taylor Rose Williams shifts to Alabama

News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said the mobilization of certain resources is telling

"What they're following, we don't know. But when you look at cadaver dogs, that means they're looking for remains," Jefferson said. "Homicide detectives, that means they're investigating possibly a homicide. So it doesn't take a genius to figure out what they're after when you look at the type of people actually going."

Police said Brianna Williams' family and that of Taylor's biological father are cooperating in their investigation. Family members told News4Jax that police are searching where Taylor's mother's phone pinged. Police would not confirm that information Monday. 

The Sheriff's Office believes Brianna Williams drove her black 2017 Honda Accord to Alabama within the last two weeks and asked anyone who saw her with Taylor recently to call investigators at 904-630-0500. There's a $4,000 Crime Stoppers reward offered for information that leads to Taylor. To be eligible, call 866-845-TIPS.

"The information that drove us to Alabama demanded this response," Sheriff Williams said.

FBI Jacksonville Special Agent in Charge Rachel Rojas said they are offering any and all assistance, both locally and in Alabama.

"We've called upon several of our skilled teams, including the FBI child abduction response team, the cellular analysis survey team, the evidence response team and many others with legal and technical expertise," Rojas said. "There is a lot of love for Taylor here -- even those who have never even met her," Rojas said. "We want you to know we will do anything we can to bring her home."

About the Authors:

Corley Peel is a Texas native and Texas Tech graduate who covered big stories in Joplin, Missouri, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Jacksonville, Florida before returning to the Lone Star State. When not reporting, Corley enjoys hot yoga, Tech Football, and finding the best tacos in town.

Kelly Wiley, an award-winning investigative reporter, joined the News4Jax I-Team in June 2019.