Body found in Pender County positively identified as Mariah Woods

Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Emotional public visitation for Mariah Woods
An emotional public visitation was held Wednesday in Jacksonville for Mariah Woods.

JACKSONVILLE, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Remains found in Pender County have been positively identified as those of 3-year-old Mariah Woods, who was the subject of an Amber Alert that garnered national attention.

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The Onslow County District Attorney's office confirmed the ID to ABC11 on Wednesday afternoon.

Mariah's body has been returned to her family.

A public visitation for Mariah was held Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Jones Funeral Home in Jacksonville. No funeral arrangements have been made but Jones will handle the services.

Questions still linger about how she died. Investigators say the autopsy and lab reports are not complete.


Neighbors wait in anguish.

"It just hit my heart," said Benford Brown, who lives a mile away from the toddler's home. "How could something happen to a beautiful girl like that?"

Wednesday's rain and dreariness added to the mood of visitors who left the visitation service in tears.

"Hopefully other people learn to just be watchful of your children," Doris Wiggins said.

Mariah was reported missing by her mother, Kristy Woods, on Nov. 27.

Last Saturday, Fayetteville Police found the toddler's body in a murky, muddy creek near Shaw Highway in Pender County, which is about 15 miles away from Mariah's home in Jacksonville.


Earl Kimrey, 32, the mother's live-in boyfriend, was arrested December 1 and charged with concealing of death; obstruction of justice, second-degree burglary, felony larceny, and possession of stolen property. He is not charged with murder.

ABC11 has learned that Kimrey dropped out of Orange High School and has a criminal past that includes serving time for theft and assault.

In an exclusive interview, his former classmate and roommate of three years told ABC11 that Kimrey was troubled.

"He started breaking into places. He started using drugs. He just, really got out of control. My heart just dropped to my feet-like 'oh my God. He's finally done it. He has finally went too far,'" said April Rhew, who said she lived with Kimrey and his ex-girlfriend between 2003 and 2006.

When ABC11 asked Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller whether there could be more charges or arrests, the sheriff said his team is following every possible lead in a very complex investigation.

Missing 3-year-old Mariah Woods