JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville mother is trying to rally people together from across the First Coast to attend a candlelight vigil for 5-year-old Taylor Rose Williams next week.
Amanda Simpson personally knows what it feels like to have a missing child, so any situation like this is especially near and dear to her heart
"Taylor Rose Williams' story, any missing child’s story, really weighs at my heart," Simpson said.
Simpson has been following Taylor William's story from the beginning, especially when she heard about the search at Brianna Williams’ former home on the Southside because she also used to live there.
In fact, she said that’s where her 14-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted, which triggered a chain reaction of events that led to her daughter's disappearance.
"My daughter was raped," she said. "I put her in a trauma center, where she ran off with another little girl, but they were kidnapped and forced into human trafficking, for nine months I didn’t know where my little girl was."
Thankfully, her daughter was eventually found and brought back by the FBI and placed into safe housing.
"She is so grateful to be alive, I am so thankful for law enforcement," she said.
Simpson's own traumatic experience made her passionate about missing child cases, like Taylor Williams.
She’s a part of a Facebook group called "Justice for Taylor Williams" through the "Red Shoe Crime District." Like many people in the community, she and the rest of the Facebook group members want to do more than just follow the case.
"We want people to come together and recognize the need for support," she said.
On Nov. 23, there will be a candlelight vigil at Losco Park where they’ll also be accepting monetary donations for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Taylor Williams' honor. They ask people to bring candles. The vigil starts at 6:30 p.m.
They also will be collecting toys in her honor. The toy donations will go to children who have been in unfortunate circumstances and may be in foster homes for Christmas.
If you can’t make it there, she asks that you light a candle wherever you are at 7 p.m. that night in honor of all missing children.