The search for Mariah Woods, the 3-year-old North Carolina girl who went missing last Monday, took a tragic turn late Friday when authorities arrested her mother’s boyfriend and accused him of hiding Mariah’s dead body.
Earl Kimrey, 32, was arrested in a joint operation by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI in connection to the Monday disappearance of the toddler, WRAL-TV reported. He faces charges of concealing a death, obstruction of justice, second-degree burglary, larceny and possession of stolen property.
The arrest warrant claimed that Kimrey is guilty of “removing Mariah Woods’ body from the scene of her death and did conceal Mariah Woods’ death and body, knowing that Mariah died from unnatural causes.”
“The defendant acted with deceit and intent to fraud,” the warrant continued, alleging that Kimrey “secretly disposed of the dead child’s body.”
Authorities are now operating under the assumption that Mariah is dead, but no body has been recovered in the case.
“At this time, the location of Mariah is unknown,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement issued just before 2:30 am. “The searches will now shift to a recovery process.”
Mariah was last seen on Sunday night, when her mother says she put the little girl to bed. She called police the next morning at 6:00 am to report that her daughter was missing, and an Amber Alert was issued later that day.
Professional search teams and volunteers combed through the woods near the family’s home and a dive team was dispatched to a nearby portion of Southwest Creek. Neighbors were also asked to check their property for any sign of Mariah.
Her biological father, Alex Woods, expressed doubt that Mariah was abducted.
“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?” he told WCTI 12. “Nobody heard anything? Four people in the house, two adults and two kids, someone just comes up and snatches the baby and walks out?”
Sheriff Hans Miller said during a Friday press conference that he had a “long conversation” with one of Mariah’s family members and claimed “they are cooperating.”