Did police suspect Brianna Williams all along?

Taylor Williams reported missing last week, but how long was she gone?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Was Taylor Williams' mother, Brianna Williams, the prime suspect in her daughter's disappearance from the very start?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Was Taylor Williams' mother, Brianna Williams, the prime suspect in her daughter's disappearance from the very start?

A former FBI special agent told the I-TEAM that was likely.

Tony Chrabot, now CEO of the Risk Confidence Group, explained this case was different than other missing children incidents. She believes that after a massive search of both Brianna Williams' Brentwood home and a Southside apartment complex where the family used to live when the 5-year-old was reported missing at 7:22 a.m. Nov. 6, it's likely police had their attention focused squarely on Taylor's mother.

"Within the first 24 hours, I would guess, police knew that the mom may have had something to do with it," Crabot said.

Chrabot said holes in Brianna William's story were likely immediately apparent. Within hours of the girl's disappearance, police towed the mother's black sedan and interviewed a woman who helped move the family to the Brentwood neighborhood who never saw Taylor.

When dive teams began searching retention ponds at the apartment complex and police searched dumpster in the area, it was apparent they were searching for a body.

Chrabot said it became clear to her during Sheriff Mike Williams' first news conference on the disappearance that Brianna Williams wasn't telling the truth.

"I think one of the big indicators in this case is when he came in and talked about asking the public for help to determine the whereabouts of the last six months," Chrabot said. "To me, that was really telling that they knew there was a problem." 

Chrabot said balancing what investigators know and what they can reveal to the public is a very delicate task with the end goal of protecting the integrity of the investigation. She suspects police found the human remains in Alabama in such a short amount of time by using a number of investigative avenues.

"If you have apps on your phone; if you use OnStar; if you have your location settings on -- all those give police a lead," Chrabot said. "Certainly, they have to go through their legal process to give them leads as to where someone is helping to put together a timeline."

Chrabot said that since Brianna Williams is currently charged with child neglect and giving police false information, it may be some time before they file other charges. Was it a murder? Was it premeditated? Or was the child's death an accident or the result of neglect? They're all questions police must answer and back up with evidence before making their next move.

About the Authors:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.

Digital election producer in 2022. He created WJXT.com in 1995 and managed The Local Station's website through 2021.