Neighbor of missing Florida 5-year-old said girl was often ‘alone and often wandering’

Published 4:44 pm Thursday, November 14, 2019

A neighbor of a missing Florida girl told investigators the 5-year-old child was “alone and often wandering” around the apartment complex where she lived with her mother, who reported her missing last week.

Brianna Williams was charged Tuesday with child neglect and providing false information to police in the case after investigators found human remains near her hometown in Demopolis, Alabama. Sheriff’s officials say Williams was admitted to the hospital in serious condition Tuesday because of an apparent overdose. She’s being held on a $1.1 million bond.

Williams reported Taylor Rose Williams missing from their Jacksonville home Nov. 6. News outlets reported the mother told police she last saw the child around midnight and she wasn’t in her bed the next morning.

An exterior door was unlocked and the child was gone. She stopped talking to detectives after being questioned about inconsistencies in her story.

The search for the child took officials to Alabama, where Brianna Williams grew up. Remains were found Tuesday, shortly before Williams was admitted to a hospital back in Jacksonville. Authorities are still trying to confirm the identification, but believed it was the little girl.

The neighbor told investigators he first spotted Taylor Williams alone, wearing pink and purple pajamas and carrying a doll, on April 17. The child told him she was “looking for my momma.” He walked her to her empty apartment and instructed her to lock the door before he left her, according to an arrest warrant.

The neighbor said he continued to see Taylor Williams alone through the apartment’s sliding glass door at least every other day and that she would wave to him from inside her apartment. She was always wearing the same pajamas. He said he saw her wandering outside two times in May and that he saw her with her mother on May 21. That was the day he last saw the child, the report said.

When he questioned Williams about the child’s whereabouts, she told him the girl was in Alabama with her grandparents, the report said.

The report says Williams told multiple investigators false information about the child’s disappearance. She told them she drove to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Oct. 31, to pick up the child from her grandmother, who she said took care of the child in October.

According to the report, Williams told investigators the girl had attended day care at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, where she worked. But her work schedule changed and she pulled the child from day care and had been driving her back and forth to Alabama, where Williams’ mother took care of her.

The investigation determined the statements were false. The child had attended a day care in Jacksonville until April 10. Records also showed the last day Taylor Williams attended the Naval Air Station day care was April 29.

In addition, the child’s grandparents told investigators they had not seen her in over a year.

A lawyer for Williams isn’t listed in jail records.