BURGAW, Pender County - Officials believe the body of 3-year-old Mariah Kay Woods has been found in Pender County, according to the FBI.
The FBI said in a press release Saturday at 6:03 p.m. that it would hold a press conference at the intersection of Hwy. 53 and Shaw Highway in Pender County at 6:45 p.m. That was one location law enforcement, the FBI and dive teams had been searching Saturday.
At the press conference, the terrible news was finally made public, ending a six-day ordeal that leaves many in Onslow County, Eastern North Carolina and the country stunned and saddened.
“Very saddened to report to you that we have recovered what we believe are the remains of little Mariah Woods,” Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller said. “We were all hoping for a better outcome. We have made appropriate notifications to the family.”
Officials said Woods’ body was found in the water around 5:30 p.m. in Shelter Creek along Shaw Highway in a remote area where the new search was being conducted. Woods’ body was found by a member of the Fayetteville Remote Dive Team. An autopsy by the medical examiner's office will be conducted to verify for sure it's the body of Woods.
“Approximately 5:30 pm (Saturday), Mariah Woods was recovered by the Fayetteville Police Rescue Five Team,” said Ernie Lee, district attorney for district 4. “I want to thank all the many agencies who participated this week. It’s been a very difficult week, it’s been a trying week, it’s been a challenging week.
“We have had a tremendous amount of cooperation by these agencies in addition to that we have outpouring of support from our community, not only willing to assist but for stepping up, attempting to locate Mariah this week.
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of people come out from this community willing to assist, willingness to help. But the prayers from this community, I just want to thank them for that and their prayers for this family and law enforcement this week. It has been a very challenging week.
“This investigation continues. I will be awaiting the results from the medical examiner’s report and making some decisions at that time.”
Further information was not provided as the FBI and Onslow County Sheriff's Office continue their investigation.
Facebook Live with news of Mariah Woods' body found
Around 2:30 a.m. Saturday, the FBI issued a statement saying Earl Kimrey, 32, was taken into custody by investigators at the Onslow County Sheriff's Office on Friday. Kimrey is the live-in boyfriend of Mariah Woods' mother, Kristy Woods.
Kimrey was taken before a state magistrate and charged with:
-- Concealing of Death
-- Obstruction of Justice
-- Second Degree Burglary
-- Felony Larceny
-- Possession of Stolen Property
According to a press release from the FBI, Kimrey is currently being held in the Onslow County Detention Center under a $1,010,000 bond. District Attorney Ernie Lee has been consulted on the current charges and additional charges could be pending as the investigation continues.
Woods was reported missing at 6:45 a.m. Monday morning, Sheriff Hans Miller confirmed. Miller said that he had put out an Amber Alert request and a reverse 911 call within a five-mile limit of the area to let locals know what they are doing. The search quickly extended from there and the FBI was eventually called in to assist in the search.
Miller said officials were "working everything that can be worked to find this little girl."
Earlier on Saturday, the FBI and Onslow County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference where they asked for the public’s help while also saying the search was expanding to an area in Pender County.
“We are focused on two areas of interest along Highway 17 near the Southwest Creek Bridge and Highway 53 and the Shaw Highway area in Pender County,” the FBI said in a press release from media spokesperson Shelley Lynch. “If you have surveillance video taken Sunday, November 26 through Monday, November, 27, 2017, from your home, business, or game hunting cameras, please call the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office at (910) 555-3113. We would be interested to view any footage to determine whether it has any investigative value."
The search was expanded to those two areas after investigators spent five days combing the area where the family lived. Other locations within a five-mile radius of the home had also been checked out before Saturday's switch to the location in Pender County where a body was found.
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