Detectives gather evidence in Alabama where remains found in search for 5-year-old

Investigators hope to find answers about disappearance of Taylor Rose Williams=

VIDEO: Investigators hope to find answers about disappearance of Taylor Rose Williams.

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.

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.

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.

Investigators are seen in a wooded area of Alabama where human remains were found in the search for Taylor Rose Williams. (WJXT)

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.

About the Authors:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4JAX in 2016.