Mother’s boyfriend appears in court in connection to 3-year-old Mariah Woods’ death

The man charged in connection with the death of 3-year-old Mariah Kay Woods, whose remains were found over the weekend, had his first appearance in court Monday morning.

Earl Kimrey, 32, 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.

Kimrey appeared in District Court on Monday morning to be read his rights and the charges. He is being held in the Onslow County Detention Center under a $1.01 million bond.

Kimrey is the boyfriend of Mariah’s mother, Kristy Woods, and was living with the two when the toddler was reported missing.

The Jacksonville Daily News on Tuesday reported on a court document in which Mariah’s biological father Alex Woods outlined reasons he was pursuing custody of Mariah’s two brothers, who are also his sons. Woods alleged that Kimrey sexually abused Mariah and physically abused the boys, hitting them with a belt.

One of the brothers said their mother knew about Kimrey allegedly sexually abusing Mariah, according to the document.

In a news release sent Saturday evening, an FBI spokeswoman said Mariah’s remains had been found in Shelter Creek along Shaw Highway in Pender County, North Carolina.

Officials did not say what led them to arrest Kimrey, or what evidence suggested that Mariah was no longer alive.

The Fayetteville Police Department dive team discovered the remains, which were sent to the state medical examiner for positive confirmation. A positive ID had not yet been publicly announced as of Monday afternoon.

Mariah was presumed dead based on evidence gathered throughout the weeklong investigation into her disappearance, according to the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office. At a news 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.”

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 her death” and alleged that he “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 reportedly was abducted from a home on the 2400 block of Dawson Cabin Road in Jacksonville, according to an Amber Alert issued Monday. She was last seen when her mother put her to bed about 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.

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?”

Camila Molina: 919-829-4538, @Cmolina__