Crime

Mariah Woods was zipped inside a couch cushion filled with cement, 3-year-old’s autopsy says

Volunteers line up to search for missing Mariah Woods in 2017

Video from a NC Highway Patrol helicopter show volunteers lining up to search a wooded area near Southwest Creek for Mariah Kay Woods, a 3-year-old Jacksonville, NC girl who went missing Nov. 27, 2017.
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Video from a NC Highway Patrol helicopter show volunteers lining up to search a wooded area near Southwest Creek for Mariah Kay Woods, a 3-year-old Jacksonville, NC girl who went missing Nov. 27, 2017.

Three-year-old Mariah Kay Woods was reported missing from her Jacksonville home in November, a few days after Thanksgiving.

It was cold that night — near freezing. Mariah’s family went to bed at about 8 p.m. on Nov. 26 and that’s the last time they say they saw the little girl.

The next morning, the live-in boyfriend of Mariah’s mom, Kristy Woods, reported Mariah missing. An Amber Alert was issued.

Hundreds from the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, FBI and other agencies, along with more than 700 volunteers launched nearly a week-long search for Mariah.

On Dec. 2, the Fayetteville Police Department found Mariah’s body in a creek along Shaw Highway in Pender County.

Now a new report sheds light on the toddler’s death.

‘Wrapped in trash bags’

Mariah’s autopsy, released on Wednesday, reveals disturbing details about her death and how police found her.

Mariah died of chloroform toxicity, according to the autopsy conducted by Dr. Karen Kelly.

Her body was found inside a plaid, zippered couch cushion cover. Solid cement was inside, the autopsy said. Mariah’s body was wrapped in trash bags that were tied around her neck.

Mariah had bruises and scrapes on her face, the autopsy said.

There was no physical evidence to indicate Mariah had been sexually assaulted, the autopsy said.

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The boyfriend, Adolphus Early Kimrey II, was charged with the toddler’s murder on Jan. 24.

The Onslow County Superior Court decided in February that the state would prosecute Kimrey for capital murder and he will face the death penalty. The last time someone was sent to death row in Onslow County was 2001.

Kristy Woods has not been charged in the case.

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‘Our little girl, she’s missing’

Witnesses told Onslow County deputies that they saw Kimrey place an object “bigger than a book bag” in a van registered to Kristy Woods around 11:30 p.m. the night Mariah went missing, according to warrants.

Investigators seized a pink jacket, zip ties, children’s clothing, carpet sections and swabs from the seats in the 1996 Plymouth van.

An arrest warrant 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.”

Kimrey reported Mariah missing on Nov. 27. He told a dispatcher that the last time Mariah was seen was the night before when everyone in the home went to bed, between 8 and 8:30 p.m.

The Onslow County Sheriff's Office released the 911 recording placed on Nov. 27, 2017 of Adolphus Earl Kimrey II reporting the disappearance of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter, Mariah Woods.

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In the 7-minute 911 call placed about 6 a.m., Kimrey is heard breathing heavily.

“Our 3-year-old is nowhere to be found,” Kimrey said in the call. “We have looked everywhere in our house and out in our yard, and our little girl, she’s missing.”

Previous reports said Mariah was last seen by her mother, who put her to bed at 11 p.m. on Nov. 26.

Alex Woods, Mariah’s biological father, had been in a custody dispute over Mariah and her two brothers with Kristy Woods during the child’s disappearance.

In unverified Child Protective Service documents, Alex Woods alleges that Kimrey sexually abused Mariah and physically abused the two boys.

Ron Gallagher and Aaron Moody contributed to this report.

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