Last week, the body of 3-year-old Mariah Woods was found in a remote body of water near her hometown of Jacksonville, North Carolina. The news came after an emotional three-week search. Her mother reported her missing after she awoke to her daughter’s empty bed on a Monday morning.

Mariah’s parents, Kristy and Alex Woods, are divorced, and Mariah was residing with her mother and live-in boyfriend at the time. Despite Kristy’s pleas for her daughter’s safe return on national news channels, Alex maintained that something wasn’t right.

In fact, he told WCTI he didn’t believe his baby girl was just taken by a stranger in the middle of the night, saying:

“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? Nobody heard anything? Four people in the house, two adults and two kids, someone just comes up and snatches the baby and walks out?”

It was reported that Alex had been fighting for custody of Mariah and her two brothers, but he said it was nearly impossible because of attorneys fees. He told WRAL that even before Kristy was investigated by Child Protective Services, every week his kids spent with the woman and her boyfriend were “like hell, like a nightmare” for him.

To Alex’s point, Kristy’s boyfriend, Earl Kimrey, was arrested soon after Mariah’s body was found. He was charged with concealing of death, obstruction of justice, second-degree burglary, felony larceny and possession of stolen property. However, it is still unclear how exactly Kimrey was involved in Mariah’s death.

Since his arrest, it’s become more and more clear that Alex has been fighting for his kids the whole time — he not only accused Kimrey of abusing his children, both sexually and physically, but he believed that Kristy knew about it.

WFMY discovered court documents in which Alex claimed Kimrey beat one of his sons so badly with a belt that he suffered a bloody nose. It also stated that Kristy knew Kimrey was sexually abusing Mariah.

Now, after tragically losing his little girl, Alex is once again trying to win custody of his remaining two children. He told The Daily News of Jacksonville this week it’s still a hardship:

We can’t come up with that money at once.

Woods’s fianceé, Heather Craft, added:

We’ve been trying to get lawyers, but all the lawyers we went to, they wanted thousands of dollars. We didn’t have much support.

According to The Daily News, the court reportedly believes Alex and Kristy’s sons have been exposed to “a substantial risk of physical injury or sexual abuse because of the parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker has created conditions likely to cause injury or abuse or has failed to provide, or is unable to provide, adequate supervision or protection” under the custody of Kristy and Kimrey.

The documents state:

The respondent mother failed to protect the juveniles from discipline by Mr. Kimrey.

Craft told The Daily News:

[Alex] cries himself to sleep every night for his sons and his baby girl.

The Daily News reported that both Alex and his fianceé “choked back tears” while speaking about their beloved Mariah, and now the two are more determined than ever to regain custody of their 5- and 10-year-old boys.

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