Taylor Williams' mother charged with child neglect, giving false information
Brianna Williams absentee booked after remains believed to be daughter found
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – 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, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams and State Attorney Melissa Nelson announced early Tuesday evening.
Brianna Williams, 27, was absentee booked, as the sheriff confirmed that she was flown earlier in the day from Naval Air Station Jacksonville to UF Health hospital. Duval County jail records show Brianna Williams was booked in absentia on two counts of child neglect and giving false information to law enforcement during an investigation, and the three charges carry a total bond of $1.1 million.
A first appearance was scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, but at 11 a.m., police confirmed Brianna Williams was still in the hospital and would not be making an appearance in court Wednesday.
According to the sheriff, Brianna Williams was taken to the hospital in downtown Jacksonville to be treated after either overdosing or ingesting an unknown substance at NAS Jacksonville. She was reported in serious condition Tuesday evening.
A News4Jax crew at UF Health on Tuesday afternoon captured video of a helicopter landing and then someone being led into the hospital on a stretcher, surrounded by security. Hospital officials could not confirm that the person on the stretcher was Brianna Williams, due to privacy issues. A steady police presence could be seen outside of the hospital until Monday evening.
News4Jax began to learn of Brianna Williams' hospitalization soon after investigators announced Tuesday afternoon that human remains had been found during the search for her daughter, Taylor Rose Williams, in a wooded area in western Alabama. Sheriff Williams and Nelson said the remains are believed to be those of Taylor.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is awaiting positive identification of the remains found on County Road 44 off Highway 28 in Marengo County, Alabama, until forensics tests are completed, according to the Demopolis Police Department. It's unknown how long that will take or how long it might take to determine a cause and manner of death.
At a 5:30 p.m. news conference, Sheriff Williams would not say what the lead was that led them to the discovery. He acknowledged, "We are nowhere near done in this investigation."
Nelson said there is a massive amount of evidence.
"This is obviously not the outcome any of us wanted to reach," she said. "We will ensure justice is served for Taylor Williams."
Brianna Williams works in the Tactical Operations Center at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, her Navy bio shows. She was still reporting for duty as of Tuesday morning and remained administratively assigned to the Tactical Operations Centers as of early Tuesday evening, according to Navy officials.
"The Navy is fully cooperating with civilian authorities as they continue to investigate," reads a statement from the Navy.
No one else is in custody. Sheriff Williams said that while family members have been cooperating, Brianna Williams stopped cooperating the day after she called 911 to report her daughter missing from their Brentwood home. On Monday, the sheriff named Brianna Williams a person of interest in Taylor's disappearance.
"We need her cooperation," the sheriff said in a Monday afternoon news conference announcing the deployment of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Urban Search and Rescue Team to Marengo County.
The search for Taylor expanded Monday, with the JFRD team and JSO homicide and missing persons detectives traveling to the Demopolis area of Alabama, where her mother is from and has friends, and her hometown of Linden. Three sources told News4Jax that authorities pinged Brianna William's phone in Alabama, and that's what led them to search there. The Sheriff's Office would not confirm that information Monday.
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Sheriff Williams on Monday asked anyone who saw Taylor and her mother together between Jacksonville and Alabama in the last two weeks to call JSO with that information. The number is 904-630-0500. He said Brianna Williams was believed to have been driving her black 2017 Honda Accord, which has tinted windows and black rims. Sources previously told News4Jax that cadaver dogs had gotten a scent on the car, and it was taken into evidence.
Less than a week before Taylor was reported missing, according to neighbors, her mother moved from a Southside apartment complex to the home in Brentwood. Neighbors said they never saw a child living at the house.
After learning remains had been found in Alabama, neighbors who spent hours on the streets in Brentwood, helping in the search for Taylor, were shaken.
"I was shocked. I couldn't believe it," said Cynthia Raney, who lives in Brentwood. "The whole neighborhood was looking for that baby. That's sad. I hate to see it, but it is really sad."
Jesse Dobbin, who owns properties in Brentwood, added: "It's unfortunate, and I am heartbroken about the situation."
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