Health Care

Disappearance of NC 3-year-old shifted to homicide case, officials say

Mother's boyfriend is arrested in connection to disappearance of 3-year-old Mariah Woods and police believe she is dead

The live-in boyfriend of Mariah Woods' mother has been arrested in connection to the disappearance of the 3-year-old - and police believe the child is dead.

32-year old Earl Kimrey, the boyfriend of the child's mother, has been arrested and charged with concealing death, obstruction of justice, and other charges.

Kimrey has been charged with concealing of death, obstruction of justice, 2nd degree burglary, felony larceny and possession of stolen property.

On Friday, Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller said he was "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of support from the community and nearby military members, who came out to assist in the search for Mariah.

Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Shelley Lynch confirmed Kimrey lived with Mariah and her mother. Kimery told her the little girl woke up and he told her to go back to sleep.

The agency is transitioning from search operations to recovery operations, officials said.

Kimrey is now being held in the Onslow County Detention Center under a $1,010,000 bond. Her body has not been found.

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The girl's mother made tearful pleas for her daughter in the days after she disappeared sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning.

The statement did not say if Kimrey has a lawyer.

In all, 730 volunteers joined law enforcement personnel in the search on Friday.

Investigators believe that Mariah is deceased due to evidence gathered throughout the investigation.

They were sent straight to the FBI's base in Quantico, Virginia, for testing on Wednesday afternoon.

Also, FBI agents searched a landfill. Authorities said they have been using all means necessary to find Mariah including ground searches assist by a helicopter and K9 units - so far, officials have covered 100 acres.

The sheriff said Wilmington Police Department officers and e New Hanover County Sheriff's deputies were searching on horseback, and boats from the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries were in on the search. They said no information is too small or insignificant when looking for the missing child.