What we know about family of missing Jacksonville 5-year-old
Taylor Rose Williams was reported missing from an Ivy Street home Nov. 6
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The mystery of a 5-year-old girl's disappearance from her Jacksonville home remains under investigation.
The discovery of human remains Tuesday in a wooded area of Alabama, between the cities of Linden and Demopolis, may provide some answers, but many in the community are still curious about another mystery: Who is the child's family?
Since Taylor Rose Williams was reported missing by her mother at 7:22 a.m. Wednesday, her family has chosen to remain out of the media spotlight.
Police confirmed last week that Taylor's mother, Brianna Williams, had been taken downtown for questioning, and she has not yet been seen publicly. She told police she saw Taylor in her pajamas in bed at midnight, but when she woke the next morning, the back door was open and Taylor was gone.
Investigators found no sign of the little girl in Jacksonville and their investigation took them to Alabama, where Brianna Williams was originally from.
Sheriff Mike Williams (no relation) said Thursday that Brianna Williams was initially cooperating with the investigation but had stopped answering officers' questions on Wednesday, the same day she reported Taylor missing.
On Monday, Brianna Williams was named as a person of interest in the case. As of Tuesday afternoon, she had not been charged or arrested.
Brianna Williams, a petty officer first class at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, was still reporting for duty as of Tuesday morning, according to Navy officials.
Sheriff Williams said other family members investigators have spoken with are cooperating.
Taylor's father, Maurice Tate, is a truck driver who lives in Alabama. He told News4Jax that a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detective drove to Alabama to talk with him and that "it's been a while" since he'd last seen Taylor. He declined to elaborate on how long.
He said he had no idea where his daughter might be.
Taylor's paternal grandmother, who also lives in Alabama, told News4Jax by phone early Thursday evening that she and Taylor's father have not spoken to Taylor or her mother in two years because Brianna Williams, who moved to Jacksonville with Taylor two years ago, cut off all communication.
She said her granddaughter's disappearance is heartbreaking, and she hopes she is found.
Family and close friends of Brianna Williams have declined media interviews but have asked the community to continue helping investigators search for Taylor. Taylor's godmother, Dorielle Sims, on Wednesday sent News4Jax photos of the little girl, but was very emotional and did not wish to talk much. The sister of Brianna Williams spoke with News4Jax, but she declined to give a statement on the record.
Volunteers swarmed the girl's Brentwood neighborhood on Wednesday and Thursday, passing out flyers with her picture and calling her name as they drove through the streets.
"We need answers," said Carolyn Thomas, who has been searching for Taylor in the Brentwood area since Thursday. "I'm a mom myself. I'm out here -- not for show, for fashion -- because I am a mom and it's heartbreaking to see this type of situation happen to a precious baby that can't defend herself."
Some loved ones, most of whom are out of state, have posted messages on social media with hashtags like #FindTaylorWilliams and #bringTaylorhome along with pictures of Taylor.
One woman posted that Taylor is a sweetheart and that her mother loves her very much and wants her back home.
Brianna Williams herself has little to no presence on social media, but we've been able to learn a bit about her. According to an Alabama newspaper, she was valedictorian of Linden High School in 2010.
She studied mechanical engineering at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville before joining the U.S. Navy.
The Navy confirmed she works at the Tactical Operations Center at NAS Jacksonville. Brianna Williams has received nine awards for her service and was deployed overseas twice. Her awards range from a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal to a National Defense Service Medal.
Until recently, Brianna Williams lived at the Southside Villas apartment complex on Southside Boulevard, where police were seen investigating Wednesday and Thursday. A dive team searched small ponds in the area and investigators dug through trash from the complex's dumpster.
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A woman who spoke with News4Jax said that on Sunday, she helped Brianna Williams move from Southside Villas to the Ivy Street home in Brentwood, where Williams told police her daughter was last seen. She said she never saw the little girl.
For now, family and friends said they are waiting for Brianna Williams to speak publicly before they agree to any interviews with the media.
They ask the community to continue spreading the word and looking for Taylor.
Taylor is described as being 3 feet tall and weighing 50 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair.
Anyone who has seen Taylor or who has information about her whereabouts is asked to immediately call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500.
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