Investigators have recovered a body in a creek believed to be 3-year-old Mariah Woods, officials said Saturday.
District Attorney Ernie Lee told reporters that divers recovered the body in Pender County, about 25 miles from Mariah’s home in Jacksonville. He added that they were awaiting a medical examiner’s report to determine the official cause of death.
The body was found hours after Earl Kimrey, the live-in boyfriend of Mariah’s mother, was arrested and held on $1 million bond. He is charged with concealing of death, obstruction of justice, second-degree burglary, felony larceny and possession of stolen property. Prosecutors are reviewing whether additional charges should be filed.
According to arrest warrants, Kimrey removed the girl’s body from the place where she died and knew her death was not natural.
Mariah was reported missing Monday morning by her mother, who said she last saw her when she put her to bed the night before.
“It was too late to save Mariah the moment the 911 call came in,” FBI agent Stanley Meador said. “The arrest warrants are public record and the records speaks for themselves. We will not discuss any details related to the homicide investigation.”
Kristy Woods made tearful pleas for her daughter’s return. “This is my world, this is my angel,” she said.
Earlier Saturday, the FBI asked for any business or residents with security cameras near U.S. Highway 17 or state Highway 53 in the area where the girl disappeared to call police and let them see the footage.
“Allow us to review it to determine if it is of investigative value,” Meador said.
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?” Alex Woods told WCTI-TV in New Bern earlier in the 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?”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.