‘Deep sadness’ as search continues for NC toddler now presumed dead, officials say

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — Authorities said Saturday afternoon it was with “deep sadness” that they believed a missing 3-year-old North Carolina girl was dead.

CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS OF MARIAH WOODS AND THE SEARCH

Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller talked during a news conference about Mariah Woods, who vanished Nov. 27 from her home on High Hill Road.

Earlier Saturday, officials said that the live-in boyfriend of Mariah Woods’ mother was charged in connection with the case.

MOBILE USERS: Click here for photos of Mariah Woods and the search

Deputies took Earl Kimrey, 32, into custody Friday night, as the search continued for Kristy Woods’ daughter.

Saturday afternoon, officials said they were still searching for Mariah Woods, but believed she was dead.

“This is the outcome we all feared. And sadly it is now what we face. Our search for Mariah is not over,” Miller said.

Earl Kimrey, 32, charged in connection with the disappearance of Mariah WoodsSaturday.

“It is with deep sadness that I tell you our investigation leads us to believe 3-year-old Mariah Woods is deceased,” Miller added.

The FBI, which was also at the news conference, said that two areas in Pender County were now part of the focus of the search.

Those areas are Highway 17 near Southwest Creek Bridge and Highway 53 in the Shaw Highway Area, according to officials.

“Sadly, it was too late to save Mariah the moment the 911 call came in,” said FBI Senior Resident Agent Stanley Meador.

“The focus of this investigation has changed from a missing child to homicide case,” Meador added.

Miller said that the outpouring of support from the community has been “overwhelming” and asked that residents continue to support each other “as we all grieve the life of this little girl and still focus on finding her.”

“We all hope and pray to find her alive, but it is still extremely important we find her. We have got to find her. We have got to bring her home,” Miller said.

“I wish we had a different outcome,” Miller added.

Kimrey faces several charges, including concealing of death, obstruction of justice, second-degree burglary, felony larceny, and possession of stolen property.

Arrest warrants obtained by CBS North Carolina report Kimrey obstructed justice by, ”removing Mariah Woods’ body from the scene of her death and did conceal Mariah Woods’ death and body, knowing that Mariah Woods died from unnatural causes. The defendant acted with deceit and intent to fraud.”

In the warrants, officials claim Kimrey “secretly disposed of the dead child’s body.”

Additionally, records say Kimrey broke into a home on High Hill Road and stole two dressers around the time of the toddler’s disappearance.

He is being held at the Onslow County Detention Center on a $1.01 million bond and due in court Monday at 8 a.m., according to these documents.

Deputies said more charges could be pending.

...[READ MORE]   Source: WNCN Durham County News