Officials recovered what they believe to be the remains of missing toddler Mariah Woods.
In a press release sent Saturday evening, an FBI spokeswoman said the 3-year-old’s remains were found in Shelter Creek along Shaw Highway in Pender County, North Carolina.
The Fayetteville Police Department dive team discovered the remains.
The remains were sent to the state medical examiner for positive confirmation.
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Mariah was presumed dead based on evidence gathered throughout the weeklong investigation into her disappearance, according to the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office. In a press conference on Saturday, FBI officials called the search for Mariah “a homicide investigation.”
“I'm very saddened to report to you that we have recovered what we believe are the remains of little Mariah Wood,” Sheriff Hans J. Miller said. “We were all hoping for a better outcome.”
Kristy Woods’ boyfriend, 32-year-old Earl Kimrey, was arrested Friday and charged with concealing a death, obstruction of justice, second-degree burglary, felony larceny and possession of stolen property, according to arrest records.
Officials did not say what led them to arrest Kimrey, or what evidence suggested that Mariah was no longer alive.
Kimrey is being held in the Onslow County Detention Center under a $1.01 million bond. His first court appearance was scheduled for Monday morning.
State arrest records show that Kimrey had previously been charged with larceny, assault, and drunk and disorderly conduct.
An arrest warrant released Saturday morning accused Kimrey of “removing Mariah Woods’ body from the scene of the her death, and did conceal Mariah Woods death and body, knowing that Mariah Woods died from unnatural causes. The defendant acted with deceit and intent to defraud.” The warrant also said Kimrey “secretly disposed of the dead child’s body.”
The toddler was allegedly abducted from a home on the 2400 block of Dawson Cabin Road in Jacksonville, according to an Amber Alert issued Monday, when she was reported missing. She was last seen when her mother put her to bed around 11 p.m. Sunday, according to the Charlotte Division of the FBI.
More than 225 members of 14 local, state and federal agencies conducted nearly 100 interviews, and followed more than 140 leads. Among them are the FBI’s Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team and Team Adam from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Officials said 730 volunteers participated in a search for Mariah on Friday. The search expanded from Onslow to Pender County after Kimrey was arrested. Investigators also sorted through 95,000 pounds of trash by hand, searching for items of interest, the sheriff’s office said.
Several items of interest were sent to FBI experts in Quantico for testing.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office at 910-455-3113 or Crime Stoppers at 910-938-3273.
A memorial has now been set up – with flowers, stuffed animals and other mementos – near Mariah’s home on the 2400 block of Dawson Cabin Road in Jacksonville. Residents of the community held a vigil for Mariah Saturday night.
Mariah’s father, who has been involved in a custody dispute with her mother, has criticized her version of events.
“Someone just walked right up in there, grabbed the 3-year-old out of the bed and she didn’t cry, she didn’t scream?” Woods told WCTI-TV in New Bern last week. “Nobody heard anything? Four people in the house, two adults and two kids someone just comes up and snatches the baby and walks out?”