MARENGO COUNTY, Ala. – Investigators have spent the week in a wooded area in western Alabama after finding human remains in the search for 5-year-old Taylor Rose Williams, who was reported missing last week from Jacksonville.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams and State Attorney Melissa Nelson said the remains are believed to be those of Taylor. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is still 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.
A JSO crime scene unit van and detectives from several other agencies made their way Thursday morning to the scene in Marengo County. Several detectives could be seen throughout the day in the wooded area where the remains were found, collecting as much evidence as possible in hopes of finding answers about Taylor’s disappearance. Crime scene tape was still up.
I’m back at the scene this morning in Marengo County where police say human remains were found during the search for 5 yr old Taylor Williams. JSO’s crime scene unit van just showed up. Several other detectives are also here. @wjxt4 https://t.co/PAwjdy6IzN pic.twitter.com/dE76SSNoFt— Corley Peel (@WJXT_CorleyPeel) November 14, 2019
The activity at the scene comes a day after a mortuary transport van, which is used for transporting remains to a medical examiner’s office, was seen leaving the rural area on Wednesday.
A van that says “Mortuary Transport” on the front license plate just left the scene here in Alabama. Police say human remains were found here during the search for 5 yr old Taylor Williams. @wjxt4 pic.twitter.com/shQxzriJQz— Corley Peel (@WJXT_CorleyPeel) November 13, 2019
If forensics testing finds that the remains are those of Taylor, investigators will have to determine whether she was killed and where she died. If she died in Jacksonville and her death is ruled a homicide, the case would be prosecuted in Florida. If she died in Alabama and her death is ruled a homicide, prosecutors would take on the case there. If police cannot determine where she died, the case would be investigated and prosecuted in Alabama because that is where the remains were found.
News4Jax attempted to contact the district attorney in Marengo County to see whether prosecutors there could handle a high-profile case, but had not heard back as of Monday afternoon.
Sheriff Williams said Monday that a tip led them to deploy JSO homicide and missing persons detectives, as well as members of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Urban Search and Rescue team, to Alabama, near towns where Brianna Williams grew up and still has friends. Family members told News4Jax that the mother’s phone pinged in the area.
Sheriff Williams announced the next day, hours after the remains were found, that Brianna Williams, Taylor’s mother, has been charged with child neglect and giving false information to investigators in her daughter’s disappearance.
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, as she was hospitalized after an arrest report shows she “attempted suicide” prior to her arrest.
Her arrest warrant, obtained Wednesday by News4Jax, alleges Brianna Williams left her daughter at home by herself at an apartment complex on Southside Boulevard in Jacksonville at least two times dating back to April and lied to police about who was taking care of her daughter.
A woman told News4Jax that she helped Brianna Williams move from the Southside apartment to the Ivy Street house on Nov. 3, but she said she never saw the 5-year-old. The Sheriff’s Office said Brianna Williams reported her daughter missing on Nov. 6 from a home on Ivy Street in the city’s Brentwood area.
Sheriff Williams said Brianna Williams stopped cooperating Nov. 7. The sheriff on Monday named Brianna Williams a person of interest in Taylor’s disappearance.