Warrant: May last time anyone other than Taylor's mother saw girl alive

Brianna Williams absentee booked after remains believed to be daughter found

The mother of a 5-year-old girl reported missing from Jacksonville last week "attempted suicide" prior to her arrest Tuesday, according to an arrest report from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An arrest warrant for the mother of a 5-year-old girl who was reported missing last week from Jacksonville reveals the last time anyone other than the mother had seen the child alive was in May.

Brianna Williams, a 27-year-old petty officer first class in the U.S. Navy, was absentee booked Tuesday into the Duval County jail on two counts of child neglect and giving false information to investigators in the disappearance of her daughter, Taylor Rose Williams. Her arrest followed the discovery of remains, which State Attorney Melissa Nelson said are believed to be those of Taylor, in a wooded area in Alabama, and Brianna Williams being hospitalized after an arrest report shows she attempted suicide.

Child neglect details

Her arrest warrant, obtained Wednesday by News4Jax, alleges Brianna Williams left her daughter at home by herself at an apartment complex on Southside Boulevard multiple times dating back to April and lied to police about who was taking care of her daughter.

VIEW: Redacted arrest warrant

A neighbor at the Southside apartment complex told detectives that he saw Taylor "alone and wandering the apartment complex on more than one occasion." According to the warrant, the first time the neighbor saw Taylor alone was April 17, when he asked the girl what she was doing and Taylor replied, "Looking for my momma." 

The warrant states the neighbor continued to see Taylor home alone at least every other day. The neighbor said the girl was always wearing the same pajamas and holding the same doll. In addition to noticing Taylor from within the apartment, according to the warrant, the neighbor also observed Taylor alone outside on at least two more times in May.

Based on the warrant, May 21 appears to be the last time anyone other than Brianna Williams saw Taylor alive. The neighbor at the Southside apartment complex told police he had not seen Taylor since that date. He told police he asked Brianna Williams about Taylor's whereabouts on a couple of occasions after May 21, and she told him she was in Alabama with her grandparents, the warrant shows.

Lies to detectives

The warrant also alleges Brianna Williams "provided numerous false statements to law enforcement" about Taylor and her whereabouts. 

Brianna Williams told investigators that she drove to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Oct. 31 to pick up Taylor after her daughter had been in the care of Brianna Williams' mother for the month, the warrant shows. 

But investigators said they learned that was not true. According to the warrant, records show April 29 was the last time Taylor attended the day care center at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, where Brianna Williams works in the Tactical Operations Center. The warrant stated Taylor had previously attended a kindergarten in Jacksonville, and the last time she was at that facility was April 10. 

Additionally, according to the warrant, both maternal and paternal grandparents indicated to investigators that they have not seen Taylor in more than a year. Brianna Williams' mother also denied taking care of Taylor this past year, telling detectives she last saw Taylor in January, the warrant stated. Taylor's paternal grandmother, who lives in Alabama, told News4Jax by phone on Thursday evening that she and Taylor's father had 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.

IMAGES: Taylor Rose Williams 
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A woman told News4Jax that she was hired by Brianna Williams to help Brianna Williams move and took items from the Southside apartment to a home on Ivy Street in the city's Brentwood neighborhood on Nov. 3. The woman said she never saw the 5-year-old girl, but did help move a toddler bed. 

Key events in the search for Taylor

On the morning of Nov. 6, Brianna Williams called the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office to report her daughter missing from the Ivy Street home. Volunteers and officers began searching the area for Taylor, but some Brentwood neighbors told News4Jax that they never saw a child living at the house. An Amber Alert was issued before noon and the search then extended to the Southside apartment complex later in the day.

Sheriff Williams said that while family members have been cooperating, Brianna Williams stopped cooperating Nov. 7. The sheriff on Monday named Brianna Williams a person of interest in Taylor's disappearance.

Also on Monday, the search for Taylor extended even further, with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Urban Search and Rescue 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 Williams' phone in Alabama, and that’s what led them to search there. The Sheriff's Office would not confirm that information.

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 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.

Soon after the remains were uncovered, News4Jax began to learn of Brianna Williams' hospitalization. According to the sheriff, Brianna Williams was flown Tuesday to UF Health hospital in downtown Jacksonville to be treated after either overdosing or ingesting an unknown substance at NAS Jacksonville. The sheriff also announced that Brianna Williams had been charged with child neglect and giving false information in the investigation into Taylor's disappearance. An arrest report shows she "attempted suicide" prior to her arrest. 

Brianna Williams had still been reporting for duty as of Tuesday morning and remained administratively assigned to the Tactical Operations Centers at NAS Jacksonville as of early Tuesday evening, according to Navy officials. 

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. She's held on a $1.1 million bond. Court records show her next court date is scheduled for Dec. 4. At last check, she was reportedly in serious condition.

About the Authors:

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