JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WJXT) -- The mother of 5-year-old Taylor Williams -- who reported her daughter missing last year in what investigators say was a lie from the start -- is now charged with aggravated child abuse and tampering with evidence.
Court records show the charges were added Friday to the two counts of child neglect and one count of lying to law enforcement that Brianna Williams already faced.
The new aggravated child abuse charge against Brianna Shontae Williams says the U.S. Navy petty officer “did willfully torture, maliciously punish, or willfully cage” a child. And the new tampering charge states she destroyed or removed evidence, and did “transport human remains,” with the purpose of impairing an investigation, the State Attorney’s Office said.
Last week prosecutors released evidence against Williams, showing that she returned to Jacksonville from Linden, Alabama -- where her 5-year-old daughter’s remains were later found -- six hours before placing a Craigslist ad asking for help to move out of her apartment.
Investigators found Taylor's remains about 4 miles outside of Demopolis, near where Williams lived and went to high school, the Florida Times-Union reports. Williams was hospitalized the same day as her daughter’s remains were found after an attempt to kill herself by overdosing, police said.
Investigators later searched that apartment after Williams reported her daughter missing from the Brentwood home where she moved. According to records, they found possible bloodstains in six locations in the apartment, soiled children’s clothes, fecal matter, cans of soup with small openings in them -- and a scent of decay.
That same scent was noticeable in the trunk of Williams’ Honda Accord, records show. The trunk was empty but a rubber liner inside smelled of cleaning fluid. A cadaver dog picked up the scent of decomposition in the trunk and the driver’s compartment. According to records, dead maggots, fecal matter, soiled clothes and assorted sex toys were also recovered from the car.
Three days after the move, Williams called police to report her daughter missing, saying she woke up and the back door was open and Taylor was gone.
The Florida Times-Union reports Brianna Williams, a U.S. Navy petty officer, remains behind bars on $1.1 million bail following the new charges, on top of the two child neglect and a single charge of giving false information to police that were filed when she was arrested Nov. 12, the State Attorney’s Office said.