Man arrested in connection to toddler's death wears bulletproof vest during first court appearance

Tuesday, 05 December 2017, 05:56:44 AM. The Onslow County Sheriff's Office and FBI have arrested 32-year-old Earl Kimrey in connection to the disappearance of 3-year-old Mariah Woods. 

ONSLOW COUNTY, NC (WECT) -

At a news conference on Saturday afternoon, FBI agents and area sheriff's departments confirmed that 3-year-old Mariah Woods has died and that Earl Kimrey was arrested in connection with the girl's death. Kimrey, the live-in boyfriend of Woods' mother, has not been charged with murder, however. 

“It is with deep sadness that our investigation leads us to believe 3-year-old Mariah Woods is deceased,” Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller said during the news conference. “It is the outcome we feared. ... Our work is not finished. We still want to bring her home. I wish we had a different outcome.”

Kimrey was taken into custody late Friday on warrants issued in Onslow County.

He's charged with concealing of death, obstruction of justice, second-degree burglary, felony larceny and possession of stolen property. He is being held at the Onslow County Detention Center under a $1,010,000 bond.

Kimrey wore a bulletproof vest Monday as he appeared before a judge, who upheld his $1.01 million bond. His next court date is set for Dec. 18. 

“We were concerned for his safety and we had to protect him. We didn’t want anyone to take justice into their own hands," Miller said. 

Kimrey was quiet in court, only speaking when he was spoken to. He didn't have any questions for the judge and his defense attorney didn't ask for his bond to be lowered. 

Federal criminal defense attorney Walter Paramore, who once represented Marine Cesar Laurean in a high profile murder trial, will be counsel for Kimrey for now. He met with his client Saturday morning. A search of Kimrey's prior criminal record includes a conviction for misdemeanor larceny in Brunswick County in 2015. 

“We are all hurting. We are working for Mariah now. We are working for justice for her," Miller said.

The arrest warrant for Kimrey indicates that he is accused of stealing two dressers from a home on High Hill Road around the time frame of Mariah's disappearance, between 11 p.m. Sunday and 3 a.m. Monday.

The warrant charging Kimrey with concealing of death and other charges states that he 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."

The warrant goes on to state that Kimrey "secretly disposed of the dead child's body."

The Onslow County Sheriff's Office believes the 3-year-old's body was found Saturday at 5:30 p.m. by a Fayetteville dive team. According to the FBI, the body was recovered in Shelter Creek along Shaw Highway in Pender County. 

The FBI said positive confirmation that the body is that of Woods will be made by the medical examiner's office. A preliminary autopsy was completed Monday morning. 

“We are pleading with the community to come forward if they hear anything or have any pictures," Miller said. 

A memorial for Mariah Woods was put in place this weekend and continues to grow. Candles, toys and messages to Mariah written by small children fill the area and has grown so large the organizer had to move it back away from the road Monday.

Dozens of people have stopped by the site to leave gifts and to wish the 3-year-old peace. 

"I am just overwhelmed with goodness, it is beautiful and heartbreaking to see this community so shattered come together to show this little girl the love that she deserved, said memorial organizer Angela Wiles. 

Some of the items donated will be given to her brothers who are both in their grandmother's custody. The remaining items will be given to Onslow County DSS for children in need. You can give toys to the Mariah Toy Fund at the drop off site at the corner of Dawson Cabin Road and Earl King Road, or you can make a monetary donation to the Mariah's Memory Memorial Fund at the Navy Federal Credit Union in Jacksonville.  All money will go to Mariah's extended family and siblings. 

Copyright 2017 WECT. All rights reserved.

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