JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Just over 24 hours after Braxton Williams, 6, and his sister, 5-year-old Bri’ya Williams vanished from their front yard in a mobile home park off West Beaver Street, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said searchers “have found nothing.”
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the children were reported missing by a family member about 1:30 p.m. Sunday after they were last seen about 11:30 a.m. while playing in the front yard of at the Paradise Village Mobile Home Park off Beaver just east of Chaffee Road. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued the Amber Alert about 5:15 p.m., according to News 6 sister station WJXT.
As the sun rose Monday, hundreds of search efforts that began Sunday afternoon ramped up. By noon, more than 100 patrol officers, 150 investigators, Urban Search and Rescue assets including Jacksonville Fire Rescue personnel. The JSO helicopter, dive team and K-9 officers and drones are also part of the search that includes a densely-wooded area nearby, abandoned mobile homes and retention ponds.
Williams said the Sheriff’s Office was utilizing state and regional partners and “every resource we can get” to find the children.
Despite all those resources and the parent’s cooperation with police, there is no indication of what happened to the children.
“Foul play could be a factor at this point. We just don’t know,” Williams said. “We’ve not no indication that anyone close to the children is involved.”
Williams added investigators have been “in heavy contact” with a couple of registered sex offenders who live in the mobile home park and others within a few-mile radius.
Williams asked members of the immediate area to be vigilant and search their properties. He also asked people throughout the community to be familiar with these children’s photos and report any sightings or anything that could provide a clue to what happened to these children.
“We’ve got a heavy focus in the trailer park today, and, obviously, it’s extended into the wooded area,” Williams said. “At this point, we’ll take anything we could get.”
Anyone who has seen the children or who has information about their whereabouts is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 904-630-0500.
Roxanne Lloyd, the children’s paternal grandmother, told WJXT that the family has been in the home for about two or three years and was preparing for a barbecue when the children’s father went inside for a brief period of time and the children disappeared.
“My son told me that they was fixing to get ready to have a barbecue and the kids was right outside the door, which is probably only steps away from the kitchen. You know, he could look out the kitchen window and see the kids, and he said that he went in the house briefly to get the meat, and when he came back out, they was gone just that quick,” explained Lloyd, who said her two grandchildren had never wandered away before. “We’re asking for all prayers.”
Lloyd said the children’s parents, Brian Williams and Bianca Jackson, were home and were not doing well.
“It’s devastating,” Lloyd said.
Police said Braxton was last seen wearing blue jeans but the red sweater they thought he was wearing was found inside their home. He was described as being 3 feet 4 inches tall, weighing 40 pounds and having black hair and brown eyes. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the boy is said to be on the autism spectrum but will communicate with others.
Lloyd said Braxton is a quiet little boy, while Bri’ya is more active and outgoing than her brother. Bri’ya was wearing a gray sweater with multicolored writing on the front and black leggings when she was last seen, authorities said.
The girl was described as being 3 feet tall, weighing 30 pounds and having black hair and brown eyes. Since the boy and girl are so close in age, they’ve always had a close sibling bond, their grandmother said.
AMBER Alert - Share These New Photos— Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) December 16, 2019
#JSO & partner agencies continue to search for Braxton & Bri’ya Williams. Please remain vigilant & be cautious when driving in the area of 10200 W. Beaver Street. If you live in the area, search your property.
Call 904-630-0600 with info. pic.twitter.com/gSocgwTsC4
On Sunday night, JSO Public Information Officer Christian Hancock said the children could be anywhere in Florida or Southeast Georgia.
“If they are alone, they are in danger," Hancock said. “We don’t know if they’re alone or they’re with somebody. That part of the investigation, obviously, is still ongoing. Our major focus right now is finding those two children.”
WJXT crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said the first 12 to 48 hours of a search are the most important. He also said that searching in the dark slows down the investigation.
“It’s not uncommon for them to have officers research an area that was searched the night before because they are dealing with darkness and maybe a spot or pocket that officers may have missed. But they just wanna make sure that they go through with a fine-tooth comb.”
Countless people who live in the neighborhood and beyond joined in the search, and police said other community members can help by sharing photos of the missing children on social media and keeping their eyes open.
“We’re asking for everybody’s assistance in looking,” Hancock said. “We want them to pay attention, look at these children, look at their faces in the pictures, and if you see something, please call us and say something.”
Police also asked people living near West Beaver Street at Port-Au-Prince Drive to check around their properties, including exterior structures and under mobile homes.