JSO: K-9s didn’t pick up scent of missing siblings

Nassau K9 handler on difficulties of search for siblings

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday that K-9s had not picked up any trace of missing siblings Bri’ya and Braxton Williams. They were found in the wood hours later after a days-long search.

Search teams had been focusing on the large wooded area right behind the Williams home for days.

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“The downfall about the house is they’re there all the time, the kids are, so their scent is all over,” Nassau County Sgt. Jonathan McCracken said. “So the dog has to sort out the old scent from the new scent and try to figure out where that new scent is, where it’s going.”

McCracken and his partner Maggie, a bloodhound, track missing people and suspects in Nassau County. They weren’t involved in the search.

JSO said Braxton and Bri’ya were found in a dilapidated pump house in the woods about 400 meters into the wood line. It’s a densely wooded area behind Paradise Village, the mobile home park where they live.

Action News Jax asked McCracken what could’ve made it hard for the dogs to track them.

“Other animals, pine straw, things like that. There are a lot of elements that help and can distract a dog also. It all depends. Concrete, some dogs have harder time going across concrete," he said. “It just depends on A) the dog and B) the totality of it. Dogs have bad days just like humans do. If there’s a lot going on, the dogs can get spooked and not focus. They’re a lot better than we are, but they have their days too."

Action News Jax asked JSO how many K-9s were involved in the search and if that included any specially trained bloodhounds like Maggie. We’re still waiting to hear back.

McCracken said even more than 48 hours later, K-9s could still help find a missing person.

“That is an old track but it's been done before,” he said.

In 2014 in Baker County, an 8-year-old boy with autism was found alive in the woods a half-mile away from his home 49 hours after his disappearance. That was despite several K-9 searches.

“When we show up, they expect us to be the answer,” McCracken said. “You never want to give up. There’s always that chance a different dog – dogs get exhausted. It’s very common to switch dogs out on long tracks and stuff like that."