Sheriff: Remains in Alabama believed to be Taylor Rose Williams

Mother of Jacksonville girl reported missing last Wednesday arrested

The mother of a 5-year-old girl reported missing from Jacksonville last week has been arrested on charges of child neglect and giving false information to investigators in the search for her daughter, Sheriff Mike Williams announced.

DEMOPOLIS, Ala. – Teams from Jacksonville searching rural Alabama for 5-year-old Taylor Rose Williams uncovered human remains in a wooded area Tuesday morning. By late afternoon, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said they are awaiting confirmation of the remains, but they may be of the missing girl.

Taylor's mother, Brianna Williams, who reported the girl missing from her Jacksonville home six days ago, was charged Tuesday with giving false information to police and child neglect. She was absentee booked after an apparent overdose at NAS Jacksonville, where she works as a petty officer first class, Sheriff Williams said. She is reported to be in serious condition.

The remains were found on County Road 55 off Highway 28 in Marengo County, according to the Demopolis Police Department. As of Tuesday afternoon, law enforcement officials were securing the scene and processing the evidence. Blue tarps could be seen in the distance beyond the crime-scene tape.

An Alabama State Bureau of Investigations crime scene van arrived about 1 p.m. to assist the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and additional JSO personnel and other investigators from several agencies arrived throughout the day.

Taylor's great aunt in nearby Linden, Alabama -- where Brianna Williams grew up -- told WUVA-TV, "I'm feeling a lot of hurt."

"It's unbelievable that this is going on but, as a family, we try to work through it just try to get closer together," Boyd Jackson said.

IMAGES:  Taylor Rose Williams |
 Alabama scene where remains were found

Sheriff Williams had said that Brianna Williams stopped cooperating with the investigation after the first day of the search and was considered a person of interest in her daughter's disappearance.

News4Jax was told last week that a cadaver dog alerted on the trunk of the mother's car, a black 2017 Honda Accord, which was towed from her Brentwood home last week.

Sheriff Williams said Monday that a tip led them to deploy dozens of members of the Jacksonville Fire-Rescue Urban Search and Rescue team to Alabama, near towns where Brianna Williams grew up and still has friends. Family members told News4Jax that the 27-year-old mother's phone pinged in the area.

The JSO asked anyone who saw Taylor and her mother together between Jacksonville and Alabama in the last two weeks to call the Sheriff's Office with that information. The sheriff said Brianna Williams was believed to have been driving her Honda Accord, which has tinted windows and black rims.

Brianna Williams was still reporting for duty at NAS Jacksonville as of Tuesday morning, according to Navy officials. Her Navy bio shows she works at the Tactical Operations Center.

"We need her cooperation," Sheriff Williams said in a news conference announcing the deployment of the search teams to Marengo County, Alabama.

AS IT HAPPENED: Human remains found in Alabama
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Search teams, with the assistance of K-9s and some high-tech tools, began at daybreak Tuesday searching a 25-mile radius around Demopolis, where Brianna Williams has friends, and her hometown of Linden. 

JSO homicide and missing persons detectives and 38 members of Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department's Search and Rescue Team traveled to the area on Monday and set up a command post at the Demopolis Sport Complex. 

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 Brianna Williams' phone pinged. Police would not confirm that information Monday. 

JSO 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."

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.