SYLVA, N.C. (WJHL) – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported Friday that escaped inmate and accused child rapist Sean Williams was seen in Sylva, North Carolina. A Sylva resident told News Channel 11 on Monday that knowing Williams could be in the area has her worried.
The FBI stated Williams, who has been indicted on federal child porn production charges and state child rape charges, was seen at a shopping center in Sylva on Friday morning. Williams escaped police custody in Greeneville, Tennessee on Oct. 18 while en route to a federal court hearing.
News Channel 11 had a crew in Sylva on Monday and spoke with Teresa Boane, who is a clerk at a store in the downtown area. Boane said she was unaware of the Williams sighting until News Channel 11 informed her, but it did not sit well with her.
“When you first told me about it, I felt like I swallowed a rock because I’m glad that you came and told me,” Boane said. “I’m aware of it. I actually carry mace in my purse, but I actually started putting it on my side. I’m concerned and I’m going to be watching for the guy.”
Boane said Sylva is a family-oriented town, which makes the charges against Williams especially concerning to her.
“If he can escape from a vehicle, what’s going to stop him from going into someone’s home with someone in it, women in it or just invading a house and holding up someone’s home?” Boane asked.
A business owner near the shopping center told News Channel 11 that he was working at the time Williams was seen, but did not see the escapee himself. He said a police officer entered his business with a photo of Williams Friday.
News Channel 11’s crew did not observe any police activity in Sylva Monday, and Boane said she has not noticed anything out of the ordinary since Friday. News Channel 11 reached out to the Sylva Police Department and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, both of whom referred questions to the FBI. The FBI did not respond to media requests regarding the search for Williams on Monday.
Williams was arrested in April 2023 in Cullowhee, North Carolina, not far from Sylva.
A combined reward of $7,500 for information leading to Williams’ arrest has been offered by the U.S. Marshals and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). The TBI asks anyone who sees Williams or may have knowledge of his whereabouts to call 911 or 1-800-TBI-FIND.