Safe Haven holds Jacksonville vigil honoring 5-year-old Taylor Williams

Police say missing child’s remains were uncovered in rural Alabama in November

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Safe Haven of Northeast Florida held a candlelight vigil Saturday night to honor a 5-year-old Jacksonville girl, whose remains were found in a rural area of Alabama.

The vigil for Taylor Williams, who was reported missing Nov. 6, was scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Safe Haven on Arlington Road.

A slideshow with photos of Taylor played for the crowd with the message of the night to never forget little Taylor’s face and name.

Kathy Swafford, the founder of Safe Haven, said it’s important to remember children killed for their lives and not just their deaths.

“I put on a vigil for every child that’s killed due to any kind of abuse," Swafford said. “I think it’s important that they are remembered for who they were and not a number or statistic, which is what they become. Every child deserves to keep their identity, even in death."

Organizers of the vigil played tribute songs and read poems to the crowd, asking them to think of Taylor as they listened.

In attendance were family members of other slain children, as well as the lead Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office detective on Taylor Williams case.

The group leaned on each other through hugs and prayer.

“It means a lot it means that the community, even though they didn’t know this child, they care," Swafford said.

Zykerria Robinson’s grandmother, Almarie Doyle, wiped away tears as she listened to the poems and music.

Zykerria’s mother and her mother’s boyfriend are charged with murder in the little girl’s death.

Doyle said she continues to attend the vigils of slain children because she knows firsthand how important community support is.

“We have a lot of kids that have got murdered and everything, so I’m glad we got justice for my granddaughter and it’s so sad to see little Taylor, so that’s why I’ve been thinking about her as my granddaughter,” Doyle said.

Saturday’s vigil took place two weeks after activists and community members gathered to honor Taylor at Losco Park in Mandarin. About 50 people prayed and sang songs under the park’s pavilion in the child’s memory.

Brianna Williams, the 5-year-old’s mother, was scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday, but her court date has been moved to Dec. 18. The State Attorney’s Office has not yet filed formal charges against Williams.

Williams’ lawyer has filed a request with the State Attorney’s Office for all pertinent discovery material, including witness statements and DNA evidence. Williams has been charged with lying to police and child neglect.

As of Tuesday, no one had been charged in Taylor’s death.

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