Braxton and Bri’ya Williams are the two children who vanished from outside their home in Jacksonville, Florida, on December 15, 2019. Luckily, after a massive search and an Amber Alert, the children were recovered safely on December 17.
Braxton is 6 and Bri’ya is 5.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Braxton & Bri’ya Williams Were Found About 400 Meters From Their Home & Asked For a Cheese Pizza After They Were Found
Braxton and Bri’ya Williams were located around 3:35 p.m. on Tuesday, December 17, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s department announced. The children were found in a “dilapidated pumphouse” which was located in the densely wooded area near their home at the Paradise Village Mobile Home Park along West Beaver Street. A member of one of the search teams heard the children’s voices.
Sheriff Mike Williams explained that the pumphouse was located no more than about 400 meters north of their home. He speculated that Braxton and Bri’ya likely entered the structure for shelter.
He said that both children were in good spirits, describing them as “lively and talkative.” The sheriff said they asked for a cheese pizza after being found, and officers made that request happen.
Braxton and Bri’ya were taken to a hospital for observation. The sheriff said the children were dehydrated and had a few bumps and bruises, but were otherwise in good shape.
2. Deputies Say They Have No Reason to Believe Braxton & Bri’ya Were Ever Abducted
During a news conference on December 17, investigators confirmed that at this stage, there is no evidence to suggest that Braxton and Bri’ya were ever abducted. It appears that the children simply wandered off and got lost. Deputies said they hoped to learn more about what happened in follow-up conversations with the children.
During the search for Braxton and Bri’ya, teams looked in more than 430 homes and combed through more than 20 bodies of waters. They interviewed registered sex offenders who lived in the area. They also urged neighbors to search their own properties in case the children had gotten stuck somewhere.
3. Family: Braxton & Bri’ya Williams’ Father Left the Children Alone Outside Briefly As He Grabbed the Meat For a Barbecue
Braxton and Bri’ya Williams were outside with their father on Sunday morning as the family prepared to host a barbecue.
Their paternal grandmother, Roxanne Lloyd, explained to News4Jax that her son, Brian Williams, stepped inside the home briefly to get the meat. “The kids was right outside the door, which is probably only steps away from the kitchen. He could look out the kitchen window and see the kids… when he came back out, they was gone just that quick.”
The children were last seen around 11:30 a.m, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. A family member called the police around 1:30 p.m. after relatives failed to locate the children on their own. Sheriff Mike Williams says that both parents were home at the time Braxton and Bri’ya disappeared.
4. Braxton & Bri’ya’s Grandmother Had Said It Was Out of Character For Them to Have Wandered Away
Roxanne Lloyd, the paternal grandmother to Braxton and Bri’ya Williams, spoke with members of the media as the search went on. She told News4Jax on December 16 that the children’s disappearance was “devastating” for the family. She explained at the time that Braxton and Bri’ya’s parents, Brian Williams and Bianca Jackson, hadn’t been doing well and that the family was asking for prayers that the children would be found safely.
She also spoke with First Coast News on December 16; that video is embedded above. Lloyd explained in that interview that she “hoped nobody took them” because Braxton and Bri’ya were typically good about staying in the yard and weren’t known to wander away.
5. A Vehicle Had Been Seen Speeding Away From the Area Shortly After The Children Disappeared But Officials Confirmed the Driver Was Not Involved
A couple that lives in the Paradise Village Mobile Home Park reported to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office that they had seen a car speeding out of the neighborhood shortly before noon on December 15. The couple spoke with First Coast News but their names were not included.
They explained that they were walking toward their trailer around 11:50 a.m. when they noticed a woman driving quickly away. The man said that he pulled his girlfriend out of the way of the vehicle. They saw two children in the backseat. His girlfriend explained that the little boy had his hands pressed against the window. They said that at the time, they didn’t think much of it. But after investigators said that Braxton and Bri’ya Williams had vanished around 11:30 a.m., the couple said it jogged their memory about the speeding vehicle.
During a news conference early in the afternoon on December 16, Sheriff Mike Williams was asked whether investigators believed this incident was related to the children’s disappearance. He stated that deputies were looking into it but did not provide additional details.
But by the afternoon of December 17, Chief of Investigations Thomas Waters clarified during a news conference that they had confirmed that this particular vehicle was not connected to the disappearance of Braxton and Bri’ya. Investigators say they believe at this point that Braxton and Bri’ya simply wandered away and got lost.