The body of Mariah Woods was found this weekend, and now police are determining the cause of death for the 3-year-old girl whose disappearance sparked national headlines.
Though no determination has been made, there are some clues about how the toddler may have died and what happened to her body after her death.
After an exhaustive search, officials near Jacksonville, North Carolina, said they found the body of the missing toddler in a creek. As CBS News reported, authorities have already charged the live-in boyfriend of the girl’s mother, a man named Earl Kimrey, with knowingly disposing of the girl’s body after she died an unnatural death.
While that new detail has shed some light on how the little girl died, the exact cause of death for Mariah Woods has not yet been announced and could include homicide, though it does not necessarily mean she was murdered. The term “unnatural death” is used by medical examiners to cover a range of causes of death, from accidents to homicide to poisoning.
As The Forensic Panel noted, it usually requires expertise and close examination to determine that a death was unnatural versus natural, hinting that police in the Mariah Woods case already have more information about the girl’s death than they have released or that her cause of death might have appeared more obvious, as in a homicide.
But police have not yet verified if Mariah Woods was murdered. Thirty-two-year-old Early Kimrey currently faces a number of charges including obstruction of justice and second-degree burglary but has not been charged directly with the toddler’s death. It was Kimrey who reported the girl missing on Monday after she was last seen being put to bed on Sunday night, but police said they believe the toddler was already dead by the time he called 911.
The arrest documents claimed that Kimrey knowingly transported and concealed the body of Mariah Woods after she died.
Authorities believe they have found the body of Mariah Woods, a 3-year-old North Carolina girl missing since Sunday, the FBI said. The mom's boyfriend was arrested. https://t.co/chUKA6tWlc pic.twitter.com/sKGzhRAmz3— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) December 3, 2017
“It also points out that Kimrey unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did with intent to conceal the death of a child, Mariah Woods, failed to notify a law enforcement authority of the death of Mariah Woods, and secretly disposed of the dead child’s body, knowing, and having reason to know the body and human remains of Mariah Woods are of a person that did not die of natural causes,” KVUE noted.
It appears that police are busy at work determining the cause of death for Mariah Woods. The FBI is reportedly analyzing items found during a massive search before the girl was found dead, and CNN reported that they are also sifting through 95,000 pounds of trash from a landfill in order to find more clues about her death.
Police have not yet said when they might be able to determine an exact cause of death for Mariah Woods, or whether Earl Kimrey could face upgraded charges related to her death and the disappearance of her body.