Nearly two months after 3-year-old Mariah Woods was reported missing from her North Carolina home, murder charges have been filed in the little girl’s tragic death. According to Woods’ mother, Kristy Woods, the last time she saw her daughter alive was in her bed just before midnight on November 26. The next morning, Mariah Woods was gone, seemingly having vanished without a trace, prompting an Amber Alert that garnered national attention and thrust the 3-year-old girl’s name into the the media spotlight.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, Mariah Woods was living with her mother, her older brothers, and her mother’s live-in boyfriend Adolphus Earl Kimrey at the time of her disappearance. Almost immediately following news reports of Woods’ disappearance, her biological father Alex Woods publicly questioned his ex-wife’s claims regarding the mysterious disappearance of their daughter, who also reportedly suffered from an “orthopedic condition” that made walking difficult.
“Someone just walked right up in there, grabbed the three-year-old out of the bed and she didn’t cry, she didn’t scream? Nobody heard anything? Four people in the house, two adults and two kids someone just comes up and snatches the baby and walks out?”
The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office was joined by the FBI and hundreds of local volunteers in their search for Mariah Woods. Despite their efforts, the 3-year-old’s remains were tragically discovered five days later in Holly Shelter Creek, roughly 30 miles from her home.
On December 1, the day before her body was discovered, 32-year-old Earl Kimrey was arrested in connection with the disappearance of Mariah Woods. As CBS News reports, the then-live-in boyfriend of Mariah’s mother was initially charged with concealing of death, obstruction of justice, second-degree burglary, felony larceny, and possession of stolen property and held on over $1 million bail.
According to investigators, Kimrey claimed to have last seen Mariah about one hour after her mother tucked her into bed on November 26. According to the suspect, he saw the little girl up and awake at approximately midnight. He claimed to have sent her back to bed. At the time of his arrest (but before Mariah Woods’ body was discovered), authorities alleged that Kimrey knew that Mariah was dead, that he knew that her cause of death was “unnatural,” and that he’d moved and/or hidden her remains.
On Wednesday, first-degree murder charges were filed against Earl Kimrey in the case of Mariah Woods. According to court documents, Kimrey is also facing a charge of felony child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury/death in connection with the alleged murder of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter. As ABC 13 reports, the first-degree murder charges stem from an autopsy which was performed on Mariah back on December 4. Authorities had previously been made aware of a preliminary cause of the girls’ death, but had been waiting for the result of chemical and toxicology tests before filing additional charges against Kimrey.
While the official autopsy report has not been released, the Onslow County Medical Examiner’s Office has stated that Mariah Woods died as a result of chloroform poisoning. Although it has been previously reported that earlier court documents claim that Earl Kimrey sexually and physically abused Mariah and her older brothers, investigators have not indicated that autopsy uncovered signs of physical or sexual trauma on the 3-year-old’s body.
Investigators claim that Kristy Woods has “been cooperating with the investigation”; she has not been charged in connection with her daughter’s death. However, according to a press release by Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller, the investigation into Mariah Woods’ alleged murder is not over yet, and the goal is to “ensure justice will be delivered for Mariah.”
“The death of a child is always a sobering reminder of how fragile life is. When the community is so deeply affected by such a horrific crime it is sometimes difficult to not allow our emotions to influence the decisions that we make. However, the best way to honor Mariah is to ensure a fair and thorough investigation, which will lead to a successful prosecution. We must remember that through these moments, together, as a community we can ensure that justice will be delivered for Mariah. We sincerely thank the community for their patience and support through this entire investigation.”
As WRAL reports, Sheriff Miller has been unwilling to disclose a potential motive in the murder of Mariah Woods, nor will he reveal how he believes Kimrey got his hands on the chloroform allegedly used on the child. He has also refused to publicly address reports that Mariah was the victim of sexual abuse.
“There is much information that is scientific in nature. Obviously, we have to depend on what science tells us. But there is a lot of information that we cannot legally or should not put out. It will come out in court.”
Earl Kimrey remains held without bond in the Onslow County Jail. His next court appearance is scheduled for February 14.